Article by Isabel Quah

With IASAS MUN, THIMUN, and tryouts for IASAS Forensics and Debate all happening within the same month, November may well be called the “Month of the Public Speaker.” But whereas our IASAS and THIMUN delegates are fast approaching the culmination of the MUN “season” with their conferences at Jakarta and Singapore respectively, our Forensics and Debate hopefuls are just beginning their own season as they anxiously prepare for and anticipate the nerve-racking but crucial tryouts.

Forensics and Debate is made up of five unique events that require subtly different skills: Oral Interpretation (OI), which requires participants to prepare a creative interpretation of a literary excerpt of choice through their voices; Original Oratory (OO), which requires speakers to prepare an original, insightful and well-supported speech based on a topic of choice; Extemporaneous, which requires constructing a well-supported speech in 30 minutes that is essentially an oral essay in response to a question based on current world events; Impromptu, which gives its participants a minute and a choice of two prompts (a word and a phrase) to come up with a witty and captivating speech based on it; and finally Debate that is fondly dubbed the “bloodiest non-contact sport” as tension is induced by intensity of each side’s will to win over the adjudicator through impeccable and persuasive argumentation on a given motion.

And while this form of Forensics is not the “cutting-up-dead-bodies type”, it still induces the same sense of thrill and anxiety. While no public speaker is immune to the pressure of having multiple pairs of eyes fixated on them, some thrive under this pressure. We see this year after year as many students flock to tryouts despite their difficult requirements and even amidst this notoriously hectic month. Evidently the intensity and competitiveness of public speaking—the thrill of capturing the attention of an audience with one’s voice—are equally desired as they are feared. But this desire and confidence can be nurtured, which is why the Forensics Club strives to create as many opportunities as it can for increased exposure to public speaking.

This school year, ISM has the special honor of hosting IASAS Cultural Convention (Culcon) Forensics and Debate—a cause for both great pleasure and apprehension. Senior Malvika Subramaniam, President of the Forensics club and two-year IASAS delegate for OI, admits to feeling the latter because she feels stressed already by the burdens of school work, college applications and preparation for tryouts. “I think try-outs are the hardest part [in comparison to the competitions] because we have to pick our pieces and that is the most crucial thing!” She also admits that the fact ISM will be hosting provides additional pressure to medal this year. Head OI coach Mrs. Arndt contrarily claims to have sensed more excitement than anxiety in Forensics hopefuls this month. “Past participants want to do their best during auditions as they want the chance to speak to an ISM audience, while students new to the process seem to have a sense about what a special opportunity it is to host Culcon this year.”

Rest assured though that come March, we can expect a promising Cultural Convention as our chosen delegates step up on to the podium ready to wow us with their speeches and awesome public speaking talents.

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