ForCom Back to School Forensics Guide

The lazy, hazy days of summer are ending.  Catching fireflies in the warm twilight is fading.  Sprawling out barefoot in the warm, prickly grass to read over a possible speech piece is over.  Summer debate camp has come and gone.  School is starting soon!  And you are…slowly realizing that you have done none of those things.  At least the speech and debate related ones.

Not everyone is a speechie year-round.  And not dedicating every moment to forensics is honestly a-okay.  But for those easing back into speech and debate, or even those who are new to the scene, it can become overwhelming flickin’ the speechie switch to the on position. 

This Back to School Forensics 101 run-down should help mitigate the stress and get you prepared to get back into speech and debate.


A Box-o-Supplies
Let’s take it slow in this budding speech and debate relationship.  If you already know what events you will be doing from having become the go-to competitor in insert event name here, then this is simple.  You do Extemporaneous Speaking?  Make sure you have a functioning file case, file folders, labels, etc.  (Also, knowing how  to file will help you decide how much of what supplies to buy.)  Any Prose or Poetry readers?  Get yourself a binder, paper, cover sheets, whatever it is you need to create that wondrous binder.  Impromptu kids, go get yourselves some note cards.  Think about the supplies you needed from the previous year, and go forth and purchase!  Being prepared for the upcoming season means you do not waste valuable piece finding/cutting/writing time on runs to an office supply store. 

A Snazzy Suit

Speech and debate competitors can technically (unless the rules specifically state otherwise in your region) perform in most anything as long as it is a nice outfit.  However, most forensicators will inform you that a dashing suit not only makes anyone look terrific, but suits are also the unofficial speechie uniform.  Try your suit on and make sure it fits.  If not, it is time for another piece of fashion to replace that cloth.  If the previous year was your first year of competition, and you only bought one suit on the pretense you did not know if you would continue, consider buying another suit.  Think of it as an investment.  You are going to be wearing a suit every weekend for months.  Having two adds some variation and makes laundry time easier--no, Fabreeze will not be your salvation.  If a new suit is too much, think of maybe getting a new tie and shirt to spice up your look.  Remember, looking good not only makes a good impression on all who behold you, it also boosts your self-esteem--which translates into an improved mood and more engaged performances.  This can also lead to you getting the digits of the cute girl you noticed in your second round who goes to a neighboring school. 

Click here for a short video on forensics attire.

A Piece
You didn’t think a list of Back to School Forensics would exclude finding a piece, did you?  Silly forensicator!  It is a truth that your coaches can and will help you find a piece suitable to you for competition.  Still, having some potentials in mind truly states that “I am a speechie, speech and debate has begun, now hear me ROOOAAAAARRRRR!!!!”  Or something less ridiculous than that.  Possible pieces serve as a warm-up for the season to come.  It gets you back into the mind-set of forensics, gets you back to the librarian research mode you let get dusty, and can motivate your other teammates to get focused as well.  Besides, even if you do not find THE ONE PIECE for you, you very well can find a splendid piece for another teammate.  Check out our pieces homepage or a specific speech categorie's homepage for information on how to find a piece for that event.  

A Partner…
…in crime.  Kidding.  Actually, not really.  It should be a crime how brilliant partners who are in synch with one another perform in rounds.  Hint: you want to find that person who complements you in a round.  (That was not a joke and written with absolute sincerity.)  There are all sorts of partner relationships.  They can range from being family, to best friends, to a simple working relationship.  But it is the finding a partner bit that is most challenging.  Some teams have the coaches pair speechies together based on chemistry and strengths/weaknesses.  Other teams let the performers choose.  If you are not in a pre-arranged partnership, it is suggested you begin looking for a partner EARLY IN THE SEASON.  You do not want to be single in the Duet or Duo game and forced into a Humorous or Dramatic Interpretation--if that is a competition you do not wish to enter.  Nor do you want to get paired with someone you are totally incompatible.  It is called a partnership for a reason.  It is a type of relationship.  Accept it and DO NOT SLACK IN FINDING A PARTNER.

A Warm-Up Mentality
Forensicators, even the most talented ones, do not simply enter into a new season at their best.  Practice!  Practice!  Practice!  Know that you will not be amazing at the start.  Yet, with some hard work and happy thoughts you can become a speech and debate force at the season’s first tourney.  Get back your skills of diction you drilled for last season.  Unleash all that muscle memory you engrained within every fiber for character pops.  Maybe even try performing pieces from last year to see what you excel in and where you are slacking. 

Be chill.  Relax.  PRACTICE.


A Bummer Attitude
If you go into the fresh speech and debate season with a fresh mouth and a poor attitude, you will not enjoy forensics.  Neither will those around you.  So cut it out.

There it is speechies and debaters.  Back to School Forensics 101.  Yes, this is a basic guide of what you need to be prepared.  But basic is all you need.  The detail in speech and debate comes later when you are polishing everything from the piece to your look to ultimately get to state and beyond. 

Good luck forensicators!  Enjoy the summer air while you can, read a book, watch some Anderson Cooper, and relish the final rays of sunshine before Speech Season claims you!