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Whether you are delivering a speech for a business class or as a leader of your company, public speaking skills are tremendously important. This article will help you hone your ideas before you give that persuasive speech, providing you with a comprehensive and multidisciplinary list of creative, insightful persuasive speech topics you can use in any setting.
Not all speeches are persuasive. Some speeches are merely informative; others might be designed for their emotional appeal or just to tell a story. The following list of persuasive speech topics covers mainly those issues that are controversial enough to warrant the use of rhetorical devices and other persuasive strategies that can be useful in getting your audience to take action or change they way they look at a certain issue or subject.
There are as many persuasive speeches as there are persuasive speakers. Even if you have never delivered a speech before in your life, you already have what it takes to get the job done.
Little kids know how to give persuasive speeches without even realizing what they are doing—using whatever emotional or rational tactics they can use to convince their parents to buy them the right toy or make their favorite food for dinner!
Therefore, think of a persuasive speech as something you already do naturally. Only this time, you need to deliver the message to your audience using slightly more formal language than you might be used to. And you may need to use additional visual aids or a PowerPoint presentation to supplement the content of your speech. There are a lot of resources available to you online related to how to create an ideal PowerPoint presentation for any classroom.
Persuasive Speech Tips
Before you jump into the deep end, consider practicing your persuasive speech in front of a mirror or with friends and family members first. You can overcome your fear of public speaking and learn how to manage uncomfortable emotions that overwhelm you. When you practice your persuasive speech first, you can master your gestures and body language in ways that get your audience to focus on the content of your discussion instead of on you.
You can deliver a persuasive speech for any topic, in any situation, for any class, business, or condition.
Perhaps your persuasive speech is for a town hall meeting, as you want to persuade an elected official or town council to adopt a new ordinance policy, or bylaw.
Or, maybe your persuasive speech is about changing a company policy or getting your supervisor to invest in a new technology.
Most of you reading this article will be using this list of persuasive speech topics in order to come up with good ideas for a school-related debate or speech. A persuasive speech can be used in any classroom environment, from grade school to graduate school.
In grade school, persuasive speeches can be about American or World History, about literature, the arts, science, or public policy. When you get to undergraduate level education (college or university), you may be asked to deliver more comprehensive persuasive speeches about specific topics of interest to you in anything from environmental science to religion.
In fact, persuasive speeches can become the key component in your application for financial aid, grant money, or a new job. Use any of the topic ideas in this article or consult a writing tutor for more help on how to structure and organize your persuasive speech.
American students typically learn about the rhetorical strategies that were developed by the ancient Greeks. Used to make rational philosophical arguments, these rhetorical strategies have been broken down into three primary components known by their Greek names: pathos, ethos, and logos.
Pathos is the emotion that charges your persuasive speech. You want your audience to feel moved by what you say, which requires you to appeal to the audience’s sense of morals. Pathos is evident in the language you use and the tone with which you deliver your persuasive speech. Using graphic images or vivid examples, such as stories of death, destruction, or redemption, are examples of pathos in your speech.
Ethos refers to the ethical merit and credibility of your discussion. Typically, ethos is rooted in your command of the subject matter—evident in the people or organizations you cite to support your main argument. With ethos, you show your audience that your persuasive speech has a well-conceived overarching framework or ethical paradigm. You want to demonstrate that your ideas are cohesive, so that your audience and you are on the same page.
Logos is the rhetorical element of logic and fact. No matter how emotionally charged your content or how credible your sources, your audience will not be persuaded to take action or impressed by your words if you spew lies. Your persuasive speech needs to be driven by facts and figures. Use statistics, numbers, and empirical research whenever possible instead of opinion or anecdotal evidence.
A persuasive speech is not something mysterious. Nor is a persuasive speech only something that powerful leaders can deliver. You can deliver a quality persuasive speech right now, by following the tips in this guide. So what is a persuasive speech, anyway? A persuasive speech is any orally delivered presentation in which the goal is to change the audience’s mind or behavior.
There are a number of different tactics you can use to persuade your audience in a speech.
For example, you can use fear to motivate your audience to move away from a certain position, point of view, or action.
Similarly, you can use anger or outrage to inspire the audience to take action or understand the urgency of the situation you are describing.
You can also use appeals to positive feelings like compassion, love, and altruism to persuade your audience to adopt a different attitude.
Another approach to a persuasive speech is to rely only on factual evidence to illuminate gaps of information or make up for the glut of misinformation proliferating online or in the mainstream media.
To better understand the power of persuasive speeches, consider that some of the most famous speeches you know of—or at least the famous quotes within them—are persuasive speeches. The following are only a few of the many persuasive speeches that turned the tides of history in America:
Perhaps you will add your name to the list of famous persuasive speeches!
Generally speaking, persuasive speeches need to be convincing. You need to pick a topic that is interesting and relevant to your audience. This means that you can pretty much talk about anything you want, so long as you can show the audience why it matters.
Good persuasive speech topics can be about anything:
If you are a new English language learner or are in grade school, you may need to choose an easy persuasive speech topic to get you started. Easy persuasive speech topics can still be good ones.
Perhaps you have heard of famously satirical persuasive pieces, such as Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal.
Funny persuasive speech topics can be fun and frivolous, or they can be seriously satirical like Swift’s essay about why the British government should advocate eating Irish children in order to help the poor. You can use a persuasive speech to demonstrate acumen in forming a good argument about almost any subject imaginable. Funny topics can also use the tactic of absurdism in order to get a point across.
In college, for your undergraduate education, you are likely to write a persuasive essay or be asked to deliver a persuasive speech. The persuasive speech topics below cover a wide range of subject areas that you may encounter in a liberal arts curriculum. Note that you can write persuasive speeches in just about any class imaginable.
Current events topics are perennially popular. For 2020, you can talk about anything that is relevant to your daily life or what you read about in the news. The first half of the year was dominated by the corona virus, and the ways in which different governments responded to the public health scare. However, there are also other 2020 persuasive speech topics you can choose from.
While all persuasive speeches have the potential to be about controversial topics or have a provocative tone, some are more contentious than others. If you were asked to deliver a persuasive speech on an unconventional controversial persuasive speech topic but are at a loss for ideas, start with one of the following.
Sports are a source of joy for some, and revenue for others. If you are in a school program focusing on athletics or sports management, or are taking a sports-related course, you can deliver a persuasive speech on one of the following topics. The same may be true if you are working in the sports industry and have to give presentations to your colleagues.
Ideally, any persuasive speech you give will be interesting—otherwise you will put your audience to sleep! The following are some persuasive speech topics guaranteed to pique your audience’s interest.
High school students or anyone above grade 8 or 9 will practice the art of persuasion, rhetoric, and speech. It is important that you learn how to make a public, oral presentation. First doing a persuasive speech in front of your classmates gives you some practice, so that later on when it really counts, you will already feel confident and prepared. In high school, speech and debate classes assign you persuasive speech topics. Some social studies and civics classes also call upon you to deliver oral reports. The same would be true for classes in business, management, and leadership.
Delivering a speech for class, or to your company? Now that you have some solid persuasive speech topics to work with, the time has come to begin with an outline and a draft. Then you will have a lot more time working on what really matters when it comes to an effective speech: your delivery. If you need to put your persuasive speech into another format, such as PowerPoint, you can also find some helpful tools online.
Good speaking skills, including your overall presentation, body language, mannerisms, voice, and dress are going to be important for many years to come as you grow your career. If you start now, with the simple act of writing a good persuasive speech, you will find that speaking and leading come more easily to you each day.
Joining Toastmasters, taking a drama class, or delivering a presentation to your local library are some other ways you can get started on persuasive speech writing. Likewise, a writing tutor or friend can help you perfect your ideas and deliver your persuasive speech in a way that will get you the grades that you want and deserve. You will find that you use your public speaking skills not just in school but in your future career. Just don’t forget the importance of connecting with your audience, because the ultimate purpose of a persuasive speech is to inspire people to take action.