Forensics isn’t just techniques used with solving crime, it’s also a way for students to perfect their public speaking skills in competitions nationwide. The forensics team at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater has already kicked off their season. It culminates in April with the team hosting nationals at Whitewater.
The process starts in July, with students working on their first pieces they plan to perform. As the season continues, they work on different speeches or other events with the help of Co-Directors Brian Schanen and Kevin Hill. Though they may start out only performing one event, they can end up performing up to six events, ranging from persuasive speeches to duo interpretation.
“What a season consists of is students will prepare a number of different speeches, some of the speeches are what you get from a Comm 110 class, your informative and your persuasive, and then some of them are more interpretive – so you’ll take something that someone else has performed and put your own interpretation on it.” said Brian Schanen, co-director of the forensics team.
As co-directors, Hill and Schanen do quite a few things to help the team throughout the season. They show them the ropes of the event, review what they are writing, and try to shoot holes in students’ arguments to make it stronger. They also coach them as they perform their speech, looking for areas to add gestures or improve word choices.
“Our role is making sure everyone gets their speeches written, editing them, and then we also do a lot of work on their delivery. So simple things like hand gestures, tone inflections, and coordinating trips with travel and such.” said co-director Kevin Hill.
Any student can join the forensics team, even without any prior experience. The team now consists of around 15 people, who all attend about four to six different meets throughout the season. As a team who puts academics first, students get to choose when they go to events based on their own academic schedule.
“The main thing that forensics has helped me develop is confidence. A lot of people are scared to do public speaking but if you throw yourself into that environment weekend after weekend it just starts to become almost normal.” said Emily Leong, a senior at Whitewater who has been competing in forensics since middle school.
The forensics team hosts multiple meets at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater throughout the following year. Their biggest meet they will be hosting is the NFA National meet held on April 16-20 of 2020.
“That adds a different layer of coordination [hosting nationals], and stress then it did before. It’s a weird mix because It’s like, we’ve hosted events before, so we got this, but it’s also like, this is nationals, it’s going to be about different than before.” said Schanen.
For Leong, this being her final semester before graduating and she is attempting to end her final year on a strong note. She is hoping to be able to qualify for the national tournament both in Whitewater and in California in the semester that she has left.
“I really enjoy this activity. It’s been my rock, my inspiration, the basis for everything I’ve done in my life up until this point.” said Leong.
For more information about forensics, feel free to look at the UW-W Forensics Facebook page at the following website: https://www.facebook.com/whitewaterforensics/.