75 Persuasive Speech Topics and Ideas
October 04, 2018 - Gini Beqiri
To write a captivating and persuasive speech you must first decide on a topic that will engage, inform and also persuade the audience. We have discussed how to choose a topic and we have provided a list of speech ideas covering a wide range of categories.
What is persuasive speech?
The aim of a persuasive speech is to inform, educate and convince or motivate an audience to do something. You are essentially trying to sway the audience to adopt your own viewpoint.
The best persuasive speech topics are thought-provoking, daring and have a clear opinion. You should speak about something you are knowledgeable about and can argue your opinion for, as well as objectively discuss counter-arguments.
How to choose a topic for your speech
It's not easy picking a topic for your speech as there are many options so consider the following factors when deciding.
Topics that you're familiar with will make it easier to prepare for the speech.
It's best if you decide on a topic in which you have a genuine interest in because you'll be doing lots of research on it and if it's something you enjoy the process will be significantly easier and more enjoyable. The audience will also see this enthusiasm when you're presenting which will make the speech more persuasive.
The audience's interest
The audience must care about the topic. You don't want to lose their attention so choose something you think they'll be interested in hearing about.
Consider choosing a topic that allows you to be more descriptive because this allows the audience to visualize which consequently helps persuade them.
When people have heard about a topic repeatedly they're less likely to listen to you as it doesn't interest them anymore. Avoid cliché or overdone topics as it's difficult to maintain your audience's attention because they feel like they've heard it all before.
An exception to this would be if you had new viewpoints or new facts to share. If this is the case then ensure you clarify early in your speech that you have unique views or information on the topic.
Emotions are motivators so the audience is more likely to be persuaded and act on your requests if you present an emotional topic.
People like hearing about issues that affect them or their community, country etc. They find these topics more relatable which means they find them more interesting. Look at local issues and news to discover these topics.
What do you want your audience to do as a result of your speech? Use this as a guide to choosing your topic, for example, maybe you want people to recycle more so you present a speech on the effect of microplastics in the ocean.
Persuasive speech topics
Lots of timely persuasive topics can be found using social media, the radio, TV and newspapers. We have compiled a list of 75 persuasive speech topic ideas covering a wide range of categories. Some of the topics also fall into other categories and we have posed the topics as questions so they can be easily adapted into statements to suit your own viewpoint.
- Should pets be adopted rather than bought from a breeder?
- Should wild animals be tamed?
- Should people be allowed to own exotic animals like monkeys?
- Should all zoos and aquariums be closed?
- Should art and music therapy be covered by health insurance?
- Should graffiti be considered art?
- Should all students be required to learn an instrument in school?
- Should automobile drivers be required to take a test every three years?
- Are sports cars dangerous?
- Should bicycles share the roads with cars?
- Should bicycle riders be required by law to always wear helmets?
Business and economy
- Do introverts make great leaders?
- Does owning a business leave you feeling isolated?
- What is to blame for the rise in energy prices?
- Does hiring cheaper foreign employees hurt the economy?
- Should interns be paid for their work?
- Should employees receive bonuses for walking or biking to work?
- Should tipping in restaurants be mandatory?
- Should boys and girls should be taught in separate classrooms?
- Should schools include meditation breaks during the day?
- Should students be allowed to have their mobile phones with them during school?
- Should teachers have to pass a test every decade to renew their certifications?
- Should online teaching be given equal importance as the regular form of teaching?
- Is higher education over-rated?
- What are the best ways to stop bullying?
- Should people with more than one DUI lose their drivers' licenses?
- Should prostitution be legalised?
- Should guns be illegal in the US?
- Should cannabis be legalised for medical reasons?
- Is equality a myth?
- Does what is "right" and "wrong" change from generation to generation?
- Is there never a good enough reason to declare war?
- Should governments tax sugary drinks and use the revenue for public health?
- Has cosmetic surgery risen to a level that exceeds good sense?
- Is the fast-food industry legally accountable for obesity?
- Should school cafeterias only offer healthy food options?
- Is acupuncture a valid medical technique?
- Should assisted suicide be legal?
- Does consuming meat affect health?
- Is dieting a good way to lose weight?
Law and politics
- Should voting be made compulsory?
- Should the President (or similar position) be allowed to serve more than two terms?
- Would poverty reduce by fixing housing?
- Should drug addicts be sent for treatment in hospitals instead of prisons?
- Would it be fair for the government to detain suspected terrorists without proper trial?
- Is torture acceptable when used for national security?
- Should celebrities who break the law receive stiffer penalties?
- Should the government completely ban all cigarettes and tobacco products
- Is it wrong for the media to promote a certain beauty standard?
- Is the media responsible for the moral degradation of teenagers?
- Should advertising be aimed at children?
- Has freedom of press gone too far?
- Should prayer be allowed in public schools?
- Does religion have a place in government?
- How do cults differ from religion?
Science and the environment
- Should recycling be mandatory?
- Should genetically modified foods be sold in supermarkets?
- Should parents be allowed to choose the sex of their unborn children?
- Should selling plastic bags be completely banned in shops?
- Should smoking in public places be banned?
- Should professional female athletes be paid the same as male athletes in the same sport?
- Should doping be allowed in professional sports?
- Should schools be required to teach all students how to swim?
- How does parental pressure affect young athletes?
- Will technology reduce or increase human employment opportunities?
- What age should children be allowed to have mobile phones?
- Should libraries be replaced with unlimited access to e-books?
- Should we recognise Bitcoin as a legal currency?
- Should bloggers and vloggers should be treated as journalists and be punished for indiscretions?
- Has technology helped connect people or isolate them?
- Should mobile phone use in public places be regulated?
- Do violent video games make people more violent?
- What is the safest country in the world?
- Is planetary nuclear disarmament possible?
- Is the idea of peace on earth naive?
These topics are just suggestions so you need to assess whether they would be suitable for your particular audience. You can easily adapt the topics to suit your interests and audience, for example, you could substitute "meat" in the topic "Does consuming meat affect health?" for many possibilities, such as "processed foods", "mainly vegan food", "dairy" and so on.
After choosing your topic
After you’ve chosen your topic it's important to do the following:
- Research thoroughly
- Think about all of the different viewpoints
- Tailor to your audience - discussing your topic with others is a helpful way to gain an understanding of your audience.
- Consider your credibility for presenting this topic - to persuade the audience you need to convince them of your ethos meaning that you need to convince them that you can be trusted. Ask yourself:
- How involved are you with this topic - are you a key character?
- Have you contributed to this area, perhaps through blogs, books, papers and products.
- How qualified are you to speak on this topic?
- Do you have personal experience in it? How many years?
- How long have you been interested in the area?
While it may be difficult to choose from such a variety of persuasive speech topics, think about which of the above you have the most knowledge of and can argue your opinion on.
For advice about how to deliver your persuasive speech, check out our blog Persuasive Speech Outline and Ideas.
Practice delivering your persuasive speech in VR. Learn more in our online Public Speaking course.