Persuasive Topic Ideas

2.2.5

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Related Reading:

Types of Persuasion

          Remember: persuasive speeches must be two-sided. If there is not an opposing viewpoint, then there is really no argument or position to prove. Your first step when writing a persuasive speech is to choose a two-sided topic. You can then develop a position based on your research and the conclusion you have drawn. Your research will provide background evidence and reasons for the arguments of your position. A two-sided topic is one with a strong enough “flip side” that another person could easily argue against your position.

Here are examples of possible two-sided topics:

  • Nuclear Power: Some will argue due to the increase of population and power usage, there is a need to build more nuclear power facilities. Some will argue this is harmful to the environment and a national security risk.

  • Electronic Books: Some will argue electronic books are the wave of the future for college textbooks. And some will argue nothing beats a hard copy book to use for studying.

  • Light Rail Service: Some will say due to the increase in urban sprawl and the rising cost of fuel, there is a need for light rail service. Some will say that due to the construction time and cost a light rail system will not be effective for commuters.

  • “Green” Building Practices: Some will argue all the buildings on campus need to meet minimum green building/sustainability requirements and must be retrofitted. Others will argue it is cost prohibitive and will not make much of a difference in the area’s environment.

          These are only a few examples of the many thousands of two-sided topics you could address in persuasive speeches. Ask your friends, instructor, or family members to help you brainstorm a two-sided topic. You may already have a two-sided topic in mind! Try it out by brainstorming and creating arguments for both sides of the topic. Use your argument on the flip side of your topic to evaluate if it is a good two-sided argument.

          A persuasive speech attempts to change the attitudes, values, beliefs, and/or actions, of your audience members. A Claim of Fact argues something has happened, is happening, or will happen based on your conclusion of the evidence. It does not call an audience to action. A Claim of Value adds a moral/ethical, right/wrong aspect to a speech of fact. It builds on it. It also does not call an audience to act. A Claim of Policy argues a change in policy is needed and provides a solution and how it will work. They can argue the status quo is fine and doesn’t need to change or the status quo is not fine and needs to change. Claims of Policy usually contain the words “should/should not.”

          If you still need help finding a two-sided topic, ask yourself:

  • What are the topics you argue or debate with friends or family members (or that you would like to argue and debate)?

  • When you listen to or watch the news, do you ever hear a story that makes you say to yourself, “Boy, I disagree with that,” or “I disagree with how that is being handled”?

  • What makes you mad or angry or raises questions in your mind?

  • Do you ever see a better way to do something? If so, maybe that’s a possible topic.

  • Is there something (for example, a service or a product) that is better than the current one being used? Perhaps that might be a topic.

  • What have you heard on the news, read in the media, or seen on social media that made you think of different approaches? Maybe that could be a topic.

  • Also remember, you may want to argue the status quo is fine and change could be bad.

          Do not pick a topic because there is “a lot of stuff” on it—pick a topic of interest to you, that matters to you, and that you can relate to your audience.

1) A persuasive speech requires at least how many sides to each topic?