Lists of SOME topics AND WAYS to find THEM:
I. A few class topics for discussion:
LSD is good
Columbus was a wicked man
Latina magazines are better than than typical American women's magazines
Alien abduction is real
Big Foot exists
Praying is beneficial
Kern county weather is not changing
Global warming is not true
Music or media does not influence children.
The women's movement was a failure
II. Matt Dunn's list of persuasive speaking topics (Matt Dunn teaches public speaking and debate at Colorado State University. http://naomi-rockler-gladen.suite101.com/great-persuasive-speech-topics-a12084)
The questions are in debate form, so consider using either side of these arguments as your topic: Some of these ideas came from debate organizations, such as the international Debate Education Association (IDEA). Other ideas came from his classes. These topics are written as questions so you will need to choose one side and rewrite the questions as statements.
1. Pick something you feel strongly about. If you don't feel strongly about your topic, how are you going to
persuade the audience to feel the same way? Students sometime say, "But I don't feel strongly about anything!" Yes you do. Sit down with a piece of paper and brainstorm. If you like baseball, give a speech for or against salary caps. If you like rap music, give a speech on why rap music is not as violent as many people think. You get the idea.
2. Avoid your "hot button" topics. Don't pick something you feel too strongly about. Hot button topics are issues you feel so strongly about that it's hard for you to understand where the other side is coming from. In order to give a good persuasive speech, you need to understand the other side's point of view, because how else will you change it?
3. Pick something controversial. It doesn't have to be extremely controversial, but you do need to present a topic that not everyone agrees with. Otherwise there's no persuasion going on, and it's not a very good persuasive speech. For example, don't give a speech on why smoking is bad for your health. Who's going to disagree with that? Instead, try giving a speech for or against a campus-wide smoking ban. Now you have some controversy and a super topic.
4. Avoid "tired topics." Tired topics are those that students pick all the time and that your instructor has heard over and over again. Yawn. Be creative.
A. The death penalty. In my experience, this is by far the number one tired topic chosen by students. I have no idea why, as I doubt many students have personal experience with the death penalty.
B. Why you should join a fraternity or sorority. There's nothing wrong with this topic, but everyone on campus has heard these arguments before. Your audience will tune you out.
C. Why marijuana should be legal. If you choose this topic, you need to give an excellent speech or the class will dismiss you as a stoner.
D. Why the drinking age should be 18. See #3.
E. Abortion. This topic isn't as tired as you think, but everyone has heard these arguments before.
F. Why you should wear your seat belt. Or why you should wear your helmet. This is not new information.
G. Why you shouldn't smoke. Also not new information. Why you shouldn't binge drink is kind of a tired topic too, but it's more timely.
H. Why you should use a condom. An important message? Yes. A new message? No. If you do this speech, for gosh sakes, don't demonstrate how to put a condom on a banana.
I. Why you should give blood. Another useful topic that unfortunately has been overused.
J. Why you should recycle. See #9.
K. Violence in the media. This topic is both tired and difficult. There's so much information out there about violence in the media, and lots of it is conflicting. Sex in the media also is a tired topic.
L. Why you should adopt a pet. This speech always goes the same: cute pictures of kitties and doggies, followed by horrible stats about how many animals are put down. The get your pet spayed or neutered speech is not as tired, but avoid any cheesy references to Bob Barker.
M. Affirmative Action. There's nothing wrong with a controversial topic, but this one has been overused big time.
5. Pick a current event. Having trouble thinking of a topic? Go read a newspaper. What's going on in the world? If there's an election, endorse a candidate or a ballot referendum.
6. Pick a campus or local issue. Are there controversial issues around campus? Are there controversial issues in your college town? These topics will be very relevant to your audience members.
7. Pick an issue of interest to the audience. Give a speech about cell phones, or music downloads, or tuition hikes, or something the audience cares about. If they don't care about your issue, they won't be persuaded.
8. Pick a smaller part of a big issue. Don't try to change people's mind about a huge issue in your short speech, because you can't. Think you can change your classmates' mind about abortion in a 6-8 minute speech? Of course not. However, you might change their minds about a portion of this issue, like parental notification laws.
9. Be cautious with issues that some audience members might find offensive. Speech topics that some students might consider to be racist, anti-gay, or something along those lines are not great topics. Think about this: the object of this speech is to persuade your audience. If some of your audience members feel offended on a personal level, they sure aren't going to be persuaded. I'm a huge free speech advocate, but you might consider finding another outlet to express certain ideas than a persuasive speech.