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20 - Speech Topic Tips

If you are having difficulty thinking of a topic for any of your speeches, either informative or persuasive, we have some ideas and ways that may help you in your search.

Tips for Any Speech

  1. Check any specific speech guidelines given to you by your instructor.

  2. Select an idea of interest to you.

  3. Select an idea you would genuinely like to know more about.

  4. Think of a topic your audience may find interesting.

  5. Find a topic that is ethical according to the standards discussed in the text and in class.


  • An informative speech defines, explains, or illustrates a subject (this could be a person, a process, an event, an issue, an object, or a concept).

  • A persuasive speech works to convince, reinforce, or actuate change (mental or physical) in your audience.

  • You will have to research whatever topic you select.

  • Each speech has certain requirements you must fulfill. You need to check with your instructor to make sure you are meeting the criteria. For example, the correct number of outside sources, visual aids, etc.

  • Our advice: Find a topic you will be excited about researching and telling us about!

  • Let the Speech Mentors or your professor help you select a topic.

Topic Selection Ideas

  1. Interview yourself. For example, ask yourself these questions:What are your interests? What do you like to do?
    Where was your last vacation? Where would you like to travel?
    What is one of the best things you’ve encountered?
    Is there an issue or topic that raises strong feelings in you—either positive or negative— that you may want to speak about?

  2. Access the media. Check out or watch:Your favorite magazine.
    Newspapers. For example: The New York Times or The Courier-Journal.
    Morning talk shows. For example: Today Show or Good Morning America.
    Television news shows, prime-time television, talk shows, etc.
    One of the area radio stations—public or commercial. For example: NPR, iHeartRadio, etc.

  3. Check the internet. Google, iTunesU, and any search engine or social media news feed can help you brainstorm great ideas.

  4. Use your major. Pick an aspect of it to bring to your audience. What made you want to major in it?If you don’t have a major yet—what do you think you would like to study? Find out more about it and tell us about it.

  5. Brainstorm with friends/classmates about what interests them.

  6. Ask your instructor for guidance on ideas.

  7. Drop down to the Speaker’s Center and let the Speech Mentors help you brainstorm your choice topics.

  8. If you’re still stuck, think about this: There’s a whole world out there, so be creative. This is your chance to investigate something that interests you. This is also your chance to get other people interested in it as well.

Remember: If you’re bored by a topic, it will show through to your audience and the whole task of public speaking will be that much more difficult.

Sample List of Topic Areas

(Note: These are broad topic areas, and would have to be narrowed a fair amount to come up with a speech topic to fit the time limits for each particular speech.)

Each of these broad topic areas has the potential to become a speech of any type we discuss in class. They can be developed as informative, as a claim of fact or value, or as a claim of policy. It is your goal/ outcome (specific/rhetorical purpose) and your desired approach which guide you to create a strong, audience-focused speech.

Politics: Revamping our political system; the controversy over gay marriage; national health care; torture techniques; senior rights; foreign oil dependence; national security; changing a particular amendment; the Electoral College; North Korea

Music: Lady Gaga; rock vs. rap; hip-hop; country; Mozart; music therapy; music education

Reading: Favorite author; favorite book; electronic readers; fiction; nonfiction; thrillers; mysteries

Your City: Entertainment venues; parks; museums; roadways; shopping areas; etc.

Travel: The Toronto International Film Festival; Ireland; Spain; Vatican City; Eurorail; Acadia National Park; Maine; Belize; Panama; Philippines; international study abroad; why travel is important

TV: Reality shows; the history of The Price Is Right; the influence of the media; which news show is better; 13 Reasons; Survivor; Downton Abbey; South Park; Teen Mom; messages of TV shows

Movies: Spiderman; Titanic; It’s a Wonderful Life; Gone with the Wind; Up; the Twilight series; ArgoLes Misérables; The Hangover; Iron Man; Disney films

Business: The shipping of jobs overseas; the stock market and its effects on our economy; small business development; women/minority-owned business; the influence and power of the media on domestic business; government control of business

Internet: Web site development; “pop-ups”; Web security; job seeking over the internet; internet crime; internet censorship; YouTube; internet copyright; Facebook; Twitter; Hulu; social media

Current Events: Wikileaks; nuclear power; alternative power sources; electric cars; merit pay; steroid testing; early childhood education; civil liberties; drug testing; service learning; HIV cures; our legal system; our political system

Almost all of these topics can be informative or persuasive depending on your need, purpose, and how you develop them. The world is full of topics–be creative!

20 - Speech Topic Tips
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