Much to the confusion of every debater's uncles and grandparents, the word "forensics" means both "Legal/Investigative Sciences" and "Speech and Debate." This post is about the latter activity. If you hate public speaking but like dead bodies, then, uh, you should probably get that checked out, and also you're looking for the other forensics.
Even if the very thought of speaking in public makes you whimper a little, you can still get involved. You just need to pick the event that sounds the most fun and show up a few times; colleges everywhere will think: "Hmm, better not try any funny business with her. She's done forensics."
What are the events to choose from? Glad you asked:
Lincoln-Douglas Debate (LD)
Intended For: good arguers, good researchers
When you think "debate," you probably picture Lincoln-Douglas. It's the standard debate event, wherein two kids prepare in advance to argue every facet of some current issue.
The topic will not be something like "Be It Resolved: Cats Are Better Than Dogs." But just to make a point, if it were that, you'd eventually have to be able argue both sides of the issue. Even if you're all, "No way, come on, cats are terrible," you still must prepare to launch into a pro-cat diatribe with all the enthusiasm you can muster, because with this type of debate, you never know which side you'll have to defend until it's Go Time.
Extemporaneous (Extemp), Impromptu
Intended For: conversationalists, quick thinkers
In Extemp, fate slaps a topic down in front of you, and you have 30ish minutes to prepare a speech about it. You get less time for Impromptu, but its topics are usually far easier ("The Simpsons" instead of "Czech Politician Whose Consonant-Filled Name You Cannot Pronounce").
Ideally, your school speech coach will have brought along a crate of periodicals for you to prep with. However, if s/he merely brought a dogeared pile of airplane magazines, you are in trouble. Judges will know, too, because you'll wind up using one of the following Presentation Maneuvers, whether you intend to or not.
Dramatic Interpretation ("DI," "Interp")
Intended For: drama students, artsy types
If you can't even debate your way into the same room as a paper bag, but you're a good, expressive actor, Interp is the choice for you. In this event, you select and act out a dramatic scene or monologue. Judging is based entirely on your piece and performance, so at no point will anyone stand up and bellow "Analyze your Tennessee Williams dialogue, Ms. Smith, or fail all of Forensics!" It all comes down to how well you prepare your scenes.
Intended For: politicians, everyone else
The beauty of a Student Congress is that it affords everyone the chance to just show up and do whatever. Do you want to author and defend a bill about Eastern European trade agreements? Go for it. Do you want to author a bill about how everyone should be required to own a ferret, because they are so cute and therapeutic? All yours. Do you want to roll in ten minutes late, do absolutely nothing, and say you participated in forensics? This opportunity is open to you as well, if it's the route you want to take.
If no event has caught your eye thus far, go to a few Congresses. You'll have fun, meet people, and technically accomplish something, even if you just sit in the back and text everyone that "SRY BUSY IM @ FRNSICS" the whole time.
Are you involved in forensics?