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Does the thought of public speaking make you cringe? While almost everyone experiences some stage fright speaking in front of an audience, there are ways to tame this debilitating fear.
Half the battle of giving a speech is selecting a topic that engages your audience. For any speech, whether informative or persuasive, the topic should meet these criteria:
- Well-researched with solid examples and evidence
- Broad enough to be universal, narrow enough to be original
- Meaningful and customized to your audience
Additionally, you should possess a measure of expertise on your topic. Understanding the nuances of what you are speaking about is a sure way to ease those jitters.
When choosing a persuasive speech topic, all of the above criteria apply, along with a few additional requirements.
What Makes a Good Persuasive Speech Topic?
While an informative speech merely presents factual information, a persuasive speech goes a step further. The goal of a persuasive speech is to convince the audience that your perspective is valid.
This does not mean that the audience will agree with every opinion you present, but a good persuasive speech makes the audience think. A great persuasive speech makes an audience act.
As transcendentalist writer Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.”
Therefore, a strong persuasive speaker will:
- Present a clear and sincere perspective. The audience should not be questioning your stance on an issue.
- Exhibit passion that inspires others to think or act.
- Be confident in both your perspective and topic.
Not all persuasive speeches need to be deeply controversial, but there should be some gray area in your chosen topic. Political, social and ethical issues make compelling persuasive speech topics for this reason.
The persuasive speech should address a burning question that incites intellectual debate:
- Should strict gun control laws be implemented?
- Is it possible to be an animal lover and a carnivore?
- Is the government at fault for the increasing homeless population?
Such questions may seem divisive, but, in a civilized society, they are essential to ask. Posing such questions directly to your audience during your speech engages a group in the Socratic Method of critical thinking.
Furthermore, if a topic isn’t inherently controversial, then it might not make the most powerful speech. Your job as a persuasive speaker is to argue your point, which is not necessary to do on topics that most people agree on.
In that vein, here are a handful of topics that would not make for good persuasive speeches.
- Learning a foreign language is important.
- Fighting in overseas wars can be dangerous.
- Social Security income is not sufficient for many retired Americans.
- Technical skills are crucial in the 21st-century job market.
- Cardiovascular fitness improves longevity.
…And you get the picture. So, what does make a good persuasive speech topic? Well, there are at least 120 answers to that question.
120 Best Persuasive Speech Topics
Before we reveal the 120 best persuasive speech topics, let’s preview each of the categories:
- Politics and law: This topic revolves around pressing issues including voting, Supreme Court decisions, political leadership, and criminal justice.
- Environmental activism: Climate change, offshore oil drilling, and green technology are just a few of the hot-button issues you’ll discover in this category.
- Social justice: Covering all issues of equality, social justice topics invite debate – and demand solid supporting facts or powerhouse emotional appeals .
- Ethics: Comprising our basic morals and values that drive our behaviors, the ethics category examines how to deal with issues like animal abuse, abortion, and stem cell research.
- Health: Regarding important issues like our food supply, how should we best protect and promote human health in the 21st century?
- Potpourri: And now we come to the miscellaneous category of “everything else.” You’ll find engaging or even entertaining ideas related to music, movies, curriculum, and more.
Take a deep breath and read on!
Politics and Law
- Alternative political parties (i.e., Green Party, Libertarian Party, etc.)
- Declaring “Independent” or “No Party Affiliation” on voter registration.
- Should voters with no party affiliation be allowed to vote in primary elections?
- Are newly proposed voter registration laws discriminatory?
- How many terms should politicians be allowed to serve?
- Popular vote vs. Electoral College
- Are women underrepresented in Congress?
- Swing states (i.e., Florida and Ohio)
- Do current proposed abortion laws violate Roe v. Wade?
- Political correctness versus freedom of speech
- Terrorist watch lists – safety precaution or blatant prejudice?
- Corporate lobbyists and campaign contributions
- Are laws too lenient on violent criminals?
- Tax responsibility: income tax, property tax, sales tax.
- Should the voting age be increased or decreased?
- Capital punishment: right or wrong?
- DNA evidence in criminal cases
- Should criminal minors be prosecuted and sentenced as adults?
- How to deal with the issue of illegal immigration
- Should cigarettes be taken off the market and made illegal?
- Hybrid and electric cars on the road
- Oil spills and world wildlife
- Saving rainforests and their indigenous species
- Palm oil: should it be outlawed?
- Make all bills and business correspondence paperless.
- Dangers of drilling for oil
- Replacing plastic with glass and cardboard
- Trophy hunting: should the penalties be harsher?
- Banning disposable diapers in favor of cloth diapers
- Benefits of public transportation, biking, walking, or carpooling
- Conserving water in our everyday lives
- Wildfires on the rise in California
- Greenhouse gas emissions in Asia
- Global climate change and increased severity of storms
- Growing food as a homesteader
- Impact of big box stores on the environment
- Impact of online retailers’ packaging and shipping on the environment
- Turning the practice of recycling into a law punishable by hefty fines
- Overfishing and dwindling populations of marine wildlife
- Factory farms and greenhouse gas emissions
- Why is there still not equal pay for equal work between men and women?
- Police brutality and shootings (in general or a specific case in the news such as Philando Castile in Minnesota)
- Is racial discrimination on the rise? Why or why not?
- Scholarship opportunities for minority students
- The benefits (or challenges) of a multicultural society
- Should bullies be expelled from school?
- What can be done about anonymous online bullying?
- Unrealistic beauty/body standards and self-image
- How to create a strong community
- Welfare, SNAP, and other social assistance programs
- The 40-hour work week is too long.
- Comparing the work week in Europe to the work week in the United States
- Caring for an aging population: are Social Security and Medicare enough?
- Civil lawsuits should not receive so much attention in the media.
- Racial and ethnic profiling (including FBI criminal profiling)
- Being a foster or adoptive parent
- Buying local builds up the community.
- Refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance
- Battling stereotypes and making them obsolete
- Mandatory community service for all U.S. citizens
- Wearing fur or using fur for any profit
- Mistreatment of farm animals: what is the solution?
- How do we address the increasing problem of homelessness?
- Tithing – how much should each person give?
- Euthanasia for terminally ill individuals
- Was it right for Dr. Kevorkian (assisted suicide physician) to be imprisoned?
- Pet shops and breeders versus shelters
- Preselecting the gender and other aspects of an unborn baby
- Abortion: pro-choice or pro-life?
- Product testing on animals in labs
- Stem cell research
- Protecting children from inappropriate websites
- When should a child be allowed to have a smartphone?
- Should violent movies and video games be banned?
- Do zoos and circuses abuse animals?
- Arranged marriage: a cultural tradition or outdated practice?
- Raising children without being married
- How to impart ethical behavior to the next generation
- Ethics as a mandatory high school class
- Do parents deceive children by telling tales of Santa Claus?
- Conventional versus organic produce
- Food additives, preservatives, and cancer rates
- Meat consumption and its effects on life expectancy
- Dangers of sitting at a desk all day
- Fast food industry and obesity rates
- Medical marijuana to treat chronic conditions
- GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) in foods: to label or not to label?
- Truth about vaccines and autism
- Mandatory CPR and First Aid training for new parents
- School cafeteria food and children’s health
- Alternative uses of oral contraceptives
- Restaurant responsibility with peanut, gluten, and other allergies
- Everyday products that could be dangerous: deodorant, toothpaste, etc.
- Teaching yoga and meditation in public schools
- Moving from the “medical model” to holistic health
- Massages as necessities rather than luxuries
- Which vitamin supplements are worthless and should go off the market?
- The mind-body connection and its influence on health
- Social media and mental health
- The cumulative effects of poor sleep (and how electronics impact our sleep)
- Mind-body fitness versus traditional Western sports
- Best genre and time period of music
- Healthiest world cuisine
- Uneven distribution of wealth: the top 1% versus everyone else
- Cost of living versus average salaries
- What to do about cults, gangs, and similar groups
- How to get accepted into an Ivy League school
- Religion versus spiritualism
- Survival skills should be taught in school.
- Benefits of forest schools for children
- The best U.S. President in history
- The most influential leader or figure in history
- Most effective ways to manage stress
- Obscure movies that people should watch
- Multitasking: fact or fiction?
- Buying a house versus renting an apartment
- Most exciting travel destination
- How to ace any test
- Overcoming social anxiety
- How our phones are hurting our eyes
And there you have it – 120 unique topics to stoke your imagination and help you identify your passion. Feel free to go beyond these springboard ideas or customize them to your perspective.
Conclusion: Best Persuasive Speech Topics
Remember, your passion and expertise on the topic will translate to audience engagement – and hopefully a good grade! Delivering a persuasive speech doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience if you’re prepared and passionate.
In the words of Cicero: “A good orator is pointed and impassioned.”
To follow the advice of the great Roman orator, find your passion and then express it through your persuasive speech. The skills you develop now in this area will benefit you throughout your professional and personal life.
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