forensic speech



Forensic speech otherwise known as forensics is all about competitive public speaking and debate. The National Forensic League (NFL) in the USA organize these speech competitions with the aim of training. high school and college students to become excellent communicators. Public speaking and debate competitions have been held amongst high school students and college students since as far back as 1930.

This post is the 10th in a series of 10 posts describing 10 different types of speech , with examples and topics ideas. Please find below the other posts.

A lot of forensic competitions alumni have gone on to become celebrities and prominent members of the society. Some of them include Oprah Winfrey, Ted Tamer, Patricia Neal, Renee Zellweger and even members of the US Senate.

This is one of our posts on the types of speech series, should you be interested in learning about other types of speeches, please click on of the links below when you are done reading this article.

Types of Speech Series

Part I. 8 Persuasive Speech Techniques & Topics

Part I. 8 Persuasive Speech Techniques & Topics

Part II. 9 Tips for Writing and Amazing Informative Speech and 120+ Topic Ideas

Part III. 5 Quick Tips on how to Give an Effective Motivational Speech

Part IV. 15 Demonstration Speech Ideas and Techniques

Part V. How to Give an Effective Special Occasion Speech?

Part VI. 6 Key Tips for a Memorable Entertaining Speech + Topics and Ideas

Part VII. Explanatory Speech: 7 Key Tips to Help You Deliver an Effective Speech

Part VIII. 5-Step Strategy for an Effective Debate and Speech Delivery

Part IX. 7 Oratory Secrets: How to Deliver Effective Oratorical Speeches

Part X. Public Speaking Contests: 7 Ways to Nail at Forensic Speech Competitions

Part XI. 80+ Impromptu Speech Topics & 7 Ways to Nail One

Part XII. 13 Ways to Effectively Deliver Pitching Presentations

Part XIII. Farewell Speech – An 8-step guide to help you deliver a Memorable one

Part XIV. Eulogy Guide: How to Give a Heartfelt Funeral Speech (with 4 Eulogy examples)

In this article, I will be sharing some tips on how to excel at forensic public speaking and debate competitions. Let’s dive in.


1.     Dress Right

Yes, we have all heard the saying that it’s all about what’s in your heart, not how you look, but when it comes to public speaking and debate competitions, looks do matter.

Remember you are going to be standing in front of an audience and a panel of judges who are definitely going to take dressing into account when scoring you.

As a rule of thumb, try to stand out from the other contestants. Dress so good that everyone notices. Your hair and nails should be well-groomed. Your clothes should be ironed and your shoes polished.

Dress exceptionally well but don’t go overboard, a suit and tie are great for guys while a corporate dress or suit should be fine for ladies.

public speaking contest

2.     Practice

Practice makes perfect. If you want to have a shot at winning, you will have to do a lot of practice. Practice will help you memorize your speech and reduce feelings of stage fright. The more you practice the more confidence you get.

To get the most out of your practice sessions, get a coach or mentor. Someone who you can trust or someone who is knowledgeable in the act of public speaking. A coach will provide feedback to help you finesse the details of your speech. Your coach will be able to point out problems in your speech which you may have overlooked.

3.     Prepare

You are expected to have read extensively on the topic you are going to present. Read up a lot on the topic and gather as many materials as you can lay your hands upon. If you can demonstrate your depth and breadth of knowledge to the audience you will be rewarded. 

You are also expected to write out your speech. You can refine it till it gets close to perfect. Remember to take your audience into consideration, your aim as a contestant in a public speaking competition is to impress the audience and judges. So, tailor your speech to do just that. 

4.     Be Confident & Passionate

Having adequately prepared by mastering the speech you are to give, looking clean and smart, and practiced in front of a test audience, you should be all set. Your confidence feeds off your level of preparedness. So, the harder you prepare, the more confident you are likely to be. 

Another factor that boosts your confidence is how passionate you are about the topic. If it is within your control, always try to speak on topics and subjects that you are passionate about. When you speak on topics that are in line with your personal goals and interests, confidence flows naturally.

5.     Speak Clearly

Speak loudly but don’t shout. Usually, during public speaking competitions, the judges sometimes sit amongst the audience. They could be in the front row, back row or anywhere within the crowd. So, make sure you are audible from every point in the room. 

If a microphone is provided, learn to use it. Note how much distance should be between you and the microphone to get optimal results. If a microphone isn’t provided, you will have to project your voice. 

Also, employ some variety in your speaking. Don’t just use one tone all the way through. Be loud and aggressive when there is a need for that, be soft and gentle when the moment requires it. The judges notice your vocals and award extra points if you command a variety of vocal expressions.

6.     Make Sense – Be Coherent

In order to stand out and possibly win the competition, your points should be compelling and should challenge the audience in a good way. Avoid repeating your points over and over again, use fresh and inventive examples. 

Even if you are speaking on a popular topic that has been over flogged, you can still make things interesting. Bring your own unique perspective and let the audience see the topic in a whole new light. 

As a conclusion, challenge your audience to take action. Encourage them to be a part of the solution and not just stand by and watch things go wrong.

7.    Tell Stories

Everyone loves a good story, and so will your audience. A good story may just be the difference between a winner and a runner-up. 

Deliver your speech in a compelling way with twists and turns, ups and downs a vocal flare. A bit of mystery and suspense will keep your audience guessing where you will go next. You can also tell your own personal story; those will pack a much heavier punch.


  1. What is your biggest fear?
  2. Which is more important, the arts or the sciences?
  3. Media corrupts children.
  4. Is it better to learn from your own experience or from other people’s experience? 
  5. The importance of emotional intelligence .
  6. If you had to persuade someone to do something that they have never done before, how will you do it?
  7. How do your dreams of today differ from your dreams of yesterday? 
  8. The world is a small place.
  9. Let’s make love not war.
  10. How do you measure happiness?
  11. The death penalty should be abolished. 
  12. All life is precious. 
  13. Global warming should be taken more seriously in all circles.
  14. Death is only the beginning. 
  15. Fashion as a means of expression.
  16. Who would you rather be, a doctor or a politician? 
  17. Man wouldn’t have gotten to the moon if not for…
  18. Our differences unite us.
  19. Divided we fall, together we stand.
  20. How would you describe love?


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