How to select a topic for a speech
Selecting a topic for a speech can be overwhelming. You may feel that you have an infinite amount of topics to choose from, but there are a few strategies that can help narrow down your choices. To select the perfect topic for a speech, you have to consider your knowledge and interests as well as your audience and purpose. If you want to know how to select a topic for a speech that will give you a standing ovation, just follow these steps.
Method 1: Consider Your Objectives
1.1 Consider the occasion.
The occasion for the speech can go a long way in helping you determine the topic. Your speech topic will vary depending on whether the occasion is celebratory, just plain fun, solemn, or professional. Here are a few ways that the occasion can help influence your speech topic:
- If the occasion is solemn, such as a funeral or memorial service, then your topic should be serious and relevant to the occasion.
- If the occasion is fun, such as a toast at a bachelor party, then it’s time to bring out the fun anecdotes and stories and to make people laugh — not to share your passion for coin collecting.
- If the occasion is celebratory, like a wedding, then you need to provide some light-hearted humor as well as some serious and sentimental points.
- If the occasion is professional, then you need to stick to a professional topic, such as website design, and not focus on your personal experiences.
1.2 Consider your purpose.
Your purpose is related to the occasion and is the goal you want to achieve through your speech. Your purpose can be to inform, persuade, or just to entertain your audience. A speech can have a variety of purposes, but it’s important to be acquainted with the most common purposes:
- To inform.To inform your audience, you’ll need to provide relevant facts and details about a subject that reveals information that allows your audience to see an ordinary subject in a more complicated light, or to learn about a completely foreign subject.
- To persuade. To persuade your audience, you’ll need to use rhetorical techniques, metaphors, and convincing evidence from experts to show them that they should do something, whether it’s to elect you for office, recycle more, or take the time to volunteer in their communities.
- To entertain. To entertain your audience, you’ll need to draw on personal or anecdotal examples, tell funny stories, show off your wit, and make your audience crack up, even if you’re communicating an underlying serious message.
- To celebrate. If you’re celebrating a specific person or event, you’ll need to show your audience what makes that person or thing so special, and to garner enthusiasm for your subject.
1.3 Know which topics to avoid.
If you want to select a topic that suits your purpose and is relevant to the occasion, then you should eliminate a variety of topics before you even start brainstorming ideas. This will make it easier for you not to offend or just bore your audience as you move forward with your ideas. Here are a few things to consider as you cross those potential topics off your list:
- Don’t pick anything so complicated that it would be impossible to inform your audience. If you pick something so complex that it can’t be explained in a short amount of time or without pages of charts or diagrams, then you will lose your audience.
- Don’t pick something that’s so simple that your audience could understand it in just a minute or two. If your topic is so basic that you’ll only be repeating yourself after you’ve said just a few sentences, then you’ll lose your audience’s interests as well. You want to keep your audience members on their toes, not knowing what to expect next.
- Don’t pick anything that’s too controversial. Unless you’re at a convention for controversial speeches, it’s best to avoid topics that are too controversial, like abortion or gun control. Of course, if your goal is to persuade your audience to agree with one side of these issues, then you should go ahead with your speech, but know that you may lose many people before you begin.
- Don’t pick anything that doesn’t fit the mood of the audience. If it’s a celebratory occasion, don’t give a dry speech about irrigation; if it’s a professional occasion, don’t give an emotional speech about how much you love your mother.
Method 2: Consider Your Audience
2.1 Consider the knowledge of your audience.
If you want to connect to your audience, then you should consider its knowledge before you select a topic. If you’re giving a speech to a group of aspiring writers, then you can comfortably reference other writers and literary terms; if you’re speaking to a group that knows very little about writing, be careful when you make more obscure literary references.
- If you’re speaking to a group that is knowledgeable about a topic, then you don’t have to waste their time by discussing the most basic aspects of that topic.
2.2 Consider the level of education of your audience.
If you’re speaking at a conference for young professionals, you can use more complicated terms and elaborate phrases, but if you’re delivering a speech to middle school students, you’ll have to change your terms and phrasing to connect to your audience.
- You don’t want to lose your audience by speaking about something that is completely over their heads, or by delivering content in such a basic way that it sounds condescending.
2.3 Consider the needs and interests of your audience.
What would your audience need to know, and what would interest your audience? Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and make a list of all of the things the audience would care about; an audience of teenagers would care about very different things from an audience of middle-aged adults.
- Imagine yourself as one of the audience members. If they’re teenagers, pretend you’re a teenager. Try seeing your topic choice from their perspective. If it bores or overwhelms you, then it won’t be the right choice.
2.4 Consider the demographics of your audience.
Knowing the age, gender, and race of the members in your audience can help influence your topic. If most of your audience is over the age of 65, then you probably wouldn’t talk about current fashion trends on the runway; if most of your audience is under the age of 20, then you wouldn’t talk about saving for retirement.
- If there are many more males than females in your audience, for example, then it may be best to pick a gender neutral or male-geared topic.
- Knowing the race of your audience can help pick a topic. If you have a diverse audience, then something about race relations or diversity can interest your audience, but if you’re talking about diversity, interracial marriage, or discrimination against one specific race of people that is not in the audience to an audience that is predominantly of one race, then your discussion may fall flat.
- You should also consider where your audience is from. A certain topic may be more interesting to a person from California than a person from Idaho and vice versa.
2.5 Consider the audience’s relationship to you.
If you’re giving a speech to friends or family, then you can be more personal than you would if you were giving a speech to an audience of strangers. If you’re giving a speech to your employees, your tone would be different than it would be if you were giving a speech to your superiors. Adjust the tone and content of your speech accordingly.
Method 3: Consider Your Interests and Knowledge
3.1 Pick a topic that you’re passionate about.
If you pick something that you’re passionate about, then your audience will be able to see and feel your passion. This will also make you much more excited to generate ideas for the speech and to deliver the speech.
- If you only have a limited amount of options and can’t pick anything you’re truly passionate about, you should at least pick something that you like or are interested in to make it easier and more enjoyable for you to write and deliver the speech.
3.2 Pick a topic that you’re knowledgeable about.
If you’re giving a speech at a professional conference, then it’s logical that you would pick a topic that you’re an expert on so you can give credibility to your speech. But even if you’re not delivering a speech in a professional setting or on a particularly complicated topic, you should still pick something you know a lot about, whether it’s baseball or your neighborhood. You can even start by making a list of the things you’re knowledgeable about, whether it’s your family, career, politics, gardening, pets, or travel.
- You don’t have to know every single thing about a topic to deliver a great speech. You can pick something that you’re knowledgeable about, and can supplement that job with some careful research.
- If you’re picking a subject you’re knowledgeable about but know you’ll need to research further, make sure the topic is easy to research. If you pick something fairly obscure, then it may be difficult to find more information about it.
3.3 Pick something that relates to your interests.
It could have to do with literature, movies, sports, foreign languages, or even gender relations. Whatever it is, you may even be able to find a theme that carries through a variety of categories, such as “loss of innocence.” Make a list of all of your hobbies and interests and see what would make for an engaging speech topic.
- You may find a large overlap between the things you’re interested in and the things you know.
3.4 Choose something timely.
If there has been a topic that has been in the news again and again, you can use it as an occasion for a speech. It may be something controversial like gay marriage or gun control, but if the occasion is appropriate, you can give a speech about this current event, offering a nuanced perspective of the situation.
- Read through popular national and local papers, listen to the radio, and watch the news to see what people are talking about and how the public is reacting to these events.
- You can also pick something that is particularly timely for your community. If there has been controversy over a new policy regarding public schools in your neighborhood, you could use it as an occasion for a speech.
- You can pick something that is timely for your audience. If you’re addressing high school seniors, you can talk about the next stage of life after graduation, and can bring in any relevant current information from the news.
3.5 Choose something that relates to your personal experience.
If the occasion calls for it, you can give a speech about something personal in your life. It could relate to your experiences with your parents, siblings, or friends, to a personal struggle, or a formative episode in your life. Just make sure the information isn’t so personal that it makes the audience uncomfortable, or that the subject is so close to you that you can’t talk about it without getting emotional.
- Remember that you can add personal information to a topic that doesn’t feel so personal; you can discuss an aspect of your career, for example, while throwing in a personal anecdote.
3.6 Pick a topic that you have the ability to speak about.
You should be able to deliver a speech about the topic with clarity and conviction. This means that you should feel strongly enough about the topic to inform, persuade, or entertain your audience. It also means that your audience should trust you as an authority on the subject; if you’re an only child, you should avoid giving a speech on the importance of having a sibling; if you haven’t entered college yet, it may be difficult for you to give a speech on the importance of choosing a major.
- Whatever the topic, you should be able to connect with your audience through the speech. At the end or even during the speech, a little light bulb should go off in your audience’s heads, and they should reach a new understanding of your topic. If you don’t have the ability to truly connect with your audience about this topic, then pick another one.
Source: www.wikihow.comPosted on: 30.10.2015, by : Shokan Iliyas