Topics For Persuasive Speeches

Persuasive speech topics are a great tool to help build your ability to win an argument or an audience to your views. Some example topics could be the use of capital punishment, wearing a seatbelt in the car, abortion, military budget and engagement, and punishment for personal drug use.

So you’ve been assigned a persuasive speech or essay for school. How can you choose a topic for this speech or essay? Good essay or speech topics should reflect important issues. The issue you choose to address should have relevance to many different people and parts of society, and you should be able to construct a coherent argument regarding the topic.

Guiding Questions

You can start out by composing a list of possible topics. Ask yourself some guiding questions as you write down the topics.

Make a list of topics and questions to go along with those topics. Photo: andradeyeshua1 via pixabay

Ask yourself questions like these:

  • What sorts of issues or topics do I care about?
  • What kind of issues am I informed about?
  • What issues impact people in my community?
  • What are the consequences of the issue?
  • What issues impact people in the nation/world?
  • Who is my target audience for this essay/speech?

You may want to begin by finding a topic you think is important, that you care about personally. Writing and speaking about an issue at length will be easier if you have an investment in the issue. After creating a list of topics you are interested in/passionate about, you’ll then want to look at that list and see what topics you are informed about. It’s difficult to write a persuasive essay or speech on a topic you aren’t informed about. You’ll still want to do the research to build yourself a case for why your viewpoint on the issue is right, but it will be easier if you already have a baseline of knowledge about the issue, rather than going into completely cold and without some knowledge of the topic.

Answer Your Questions Do Your Research

You’ll need to do research on the consequences of the issue you’re writing about. The more severe the consequences of the issue, the more likely it is that people will care about the issue. If the effects of any particular phenomenon aren’t very severe, it will be harder to get people to care about that issue.

Let’s say an industrial process is releasing certain compounds into a river. If the compounds dissolve harmlessly into the water and the only discernible effect is that the rocks in the river become smoother, you’ll have a hard time convincing people to care. However, if the compound being released into the water causes liver damage in people who come into contact with the water, it will be much easier to convince people to care. You’ll have to know what the consequences of the issue you’re speaking or writing about will be, in order to make a good case for why your argument is correct.

You’ll also want to figure out who is impacted by the issues you are writing about. Are the people in your community impacted by the issue you’re writing about? That would be true if you were writing about the decision to build more apartment buildings over a forested area in your hometown. The range of people impacted by the issue you’re writing about may go much further than that, however. The topic you write about may impact people across your state, country, or even the whole world. This will influence your target audience for your speech/essay, and you’ll need to tailor your argument to your target audience. You’ll need to approach issues that impact people in your community differently than the topics which have global impacts. Your research into the consequences of the issue should inform you about how large the scope of the problem is.

To be more concrete, if you’re writing about an issue which only impacts people in your community, don’t expect non-locals to have a frame of reference for the issue. Conversely, global issues can impact everyone, but the issues can be rather abstract for many people and may require clarification, like global warming, the effects of which often seem distant and intractable to many. You’ll need to drive home why people should care about the issue you’re speaking about, but the way you do that will vary depending on the scope of the topic and your target audience.

As an example, lack of streetlights on a busy road in your town may be immediately understandable and resonate strongly with locals, but those who aren’t locals may have difficulty seeing the importance of the issue. By contrast, the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest is an issue that will impact everyone by contributing to climate change, but few people have experiences with the topic and it seems very remote to them.

Let’s go through some potential topics and see why they might be good for a persuasive speech or essay, as well as what you would have to do to convince people of their importance.

Potential Topics For A Persuasive Essay/Speech

Supporting Healthcare In Developing Nations

It’s estimated that around ten million people every year die from easily preventable illnesses like malaria, tuberculosis, and diarrhea. These problems could be solved by improvements to the living conditions of people in developing nations, like ensuring that everyone has clean water to drink and access to bed nets which protect them from mosquitoes. If you want to convince people to donate to these causes, you’ll need to convince them of the value of human life that they will likely never see or interact with. This can be a challenging topic to address for these reasons. Start by getting hard data on how many people are affected by diseases in developing nations, and what strategies work to protect their health.

Stopping Factory Farming

Stopping the support for factory farming is a common topic for persuasive essays/speeches. Approximately 50 billion animals are killed every year in factory farms, and most of these animals suffer greatly during their lives. Factory farming is also a massive contributor to the problem of climate change, contributing about 14% of the overall emissions of greenhouse gases every year. One of the difficulties in arguing for the reduction of factory farming is that many people tend to be less disturbed by the loss of animal life than the loss of human life. Arguing the affirmative in this case will involve convincing your audience that the lives of animals deserve consideration.

Relevant images can be powerful. Use them well. Photo: ErikaWittlieb via Pixabay

Reforming Criminal Justice In The US

The United States has a higher incarceration rate than any other developed nation. What strategies could be used to reduce the incarceration rate? Incarceration has substantial economic and human costs, but how can it be reduced while making cities and towns safer? The primary persuasive problem for this issue is one of education, simply informing people about the issue. Recent polls suggest that most people, 91% of people, agree that prison reform is needed, which suggests that it is an easy issue to gain support for once people are educated about it. Research prison reform strategies that have worked around the country and around the world.

Supporting The Development Of Solar Energy Technology

Solar power is a rapidly growing industry which provides energy that is much cleaner and safer than other forms of energy like fossil fuels. Advances in solar technology have the possibility to radically cut pollution levels and stimulate economic growth, but only if solar energy continues to be supported. Arguing for more investment into solar energy by state and local governments will require building the case that solar power can improve over traditional forms of energy generation in many ways. Start by researching the pros/cons of solar energy and areas where solar energy could benefit from further investment.

It can be difficult choosing a topic to write a persuasive speech or essay about, but just remember to ask yourself the guiding questions and do your research thoroughly.