Presenting an effective persuasive speech starts with careful selection of a topic. In his book, "Crafting Opinion and Persuasive Papers," Tim Clifford gives some advice that applies equally well to the written persuasive paper and the persuasive speech. "Identifying issues starts with understanding fact verus opinion," Clifford says. Before selecting a topic, you need to gather information that convinces you what stand to take.
Other People Are Reading
Environmental topics for a persuasive speech are wide-ranging. You might want to persuade others about the truth or exaggeration of global warming claims, talk about whether governments are doing too much or too little to decrease pollution, protect endangered species or save the rainforests. Other topics include taking a stand on the necessity of clean air and water standards and whether the government should regulate the production of gas-guzzling cars.
Health and Safety issues
Just how much the government should be involved in an individual's health care and health insurance is a controversial topic for a persuasive speech. You might want to argue for or against government restrictions on motorcycle helmets and seat belts. Some people think the ban on cigarettes has gone too far; others believe the government should ban their manufacture. You might argue whether you think the penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol is too severe or not severe enough because of danger to others on the road. The legality of cell phone use while driving is considered a safety issue by many.
Issues Affecting Young People
Whether teenagers should be allowed to drive before the age of 18 is a controversial issue, as is the issue of lowering the drinking age. You might argue for or against a ban of alcohol on the college campus. The emphasis on test grades as the major standard for college admission is an arguable topic from both sides. Some people feel that there should be separate schools for boys and girls; others argue against the plan. Whether or not junk food should be allowed in school vending machines in high schools is another arguable issue.
Civil rights issues can make effective persuasive speech topics, particularly ones that attempt to answer these questions: Has the government done enough to prevent and condemn racist behaviour? Is Affirmative Action an effective or biased program? Is racial profiling a serious problem or is it exaggerated by the media? Should same-sex marriage be legal and/or should same sex couples be allowed to adopt children? Is freedom of religion compatible with prayer in school, public displays of the Ten Commandments and Christmas music in a school concert?
Animal lovers may have conflicting opinions on animal-related persuasive topics. Your speech might ask whether animals should ever be used for scientific research, whether the government has a responsibility to see that pets are neutered, and whether the government should do more to promote vegetarianism for humane as well as health-related issues.
Censorship issues are loaded with controversy; for example, some people believe that TV stations' presentation of the news should be regulated; others see that as too much government censorship, but would like to see violence on TV curtailed. While some people abhor white supremacist organisations, they might still defend the groups' rights to speak. There is widespread disagreement about what exactly constitutes pornography and whether it should be censored.
You can find a great deal of research for persuasive topics involving schools and colleges. Beginning with teachers, a persuasive speech could argue whether teachers should receive merit pay or whether they should be allowed to teach without a degree. There is also an ongoing argument about whether teachers should be monitored to determine how closely they follow the curriculum. Standardised testing and its efficacy is another hotly contested issue as is the topic of whether parents should have to prove citizenship before their kids can attend school.
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