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112 Persuasive Speech Topics That Are Actually Engaging

What’s covered:, how to pick an awesome persuasive speech topic, 112 engaging persuasive speech topics, tips for preparing your persuasive speech.

Writing a stellar persuasive speech requires a carefully crafted argument that will resonate with your audience to sway them to your side. This feat can be challenging to accomplish, but an engaging, thought-provoking speech topic is an excellent place to start.

When it comes time to select a topic for your persuasive speech, you may feel overwhelmed by all the options to choose from—or your brain may be drawing a completely blank slate. If you’re having trouble thinking of the perfect topic, don’t worry. We’re here to help!

In this post, we’re sharing how to choose the perfect persuasive speech topic and tips to prepare for your speech. Plus, you’ll find 112 persuasive speech topics that you can take directly from us or use as creative inspiration for your own ideas!

Choose Something You’re Passionate About

It’s much easier to write, research, and deliver a speech about a cause you care about. Even if it’s challenging to find a topic that completely sparks your interest, try to choose a topic that aligns with your passions.

However, keep in mind that not everyone has the same interests as you. Try to choose a general topic to grab the attention of the majority of your audience, but one that’s specific enough to keep them engaged.

For example, suppose you’re giving a persuasive speech about book censorship. In that case, it’s probably too niche to talk about why “To Kill a Mockingbird” shouldn’t be censored (even if it’s your favorite book), and it’s too broad to talk about media censorship in general.

Steer Clear of Cliches

Have you already heard a persuasive speech topic presented dozens of times? If so, it’s probably not an excellent choice for your speech—even if it’s an issue you’re incredibly passionate about.

Although polarizing topics like abortion and climate control are important to discuss, they aren’t great persuasive speech topics. Most people have already formed an opinion on these topics, which will either cause them to tune out or have a negative impression of your speech.

Instead, choose topics that are fresh, unique, and new. If your audience has never heard your idea presented before, they will be more open to your argument and engaged in your speech.

Have a Clear Side of Opposition

For a persuasive speech to be engaging, there must be a clear side of opposition. To help determine the arguability of your topic, ask yourself: “If I presented my viewpoint on this topic to a group of peers, would someone disagree with me?” If the answer is yes, then you’ve chosen a great topic!

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for what it takes to choose a great persuasive speech topic, here are over one hundred options for you to choose from.

  • Should high school athletes get tested for steroids?
  • Should schools be required to have physical education courses?
  • Should sports grades in school depend on things like athletic ability?
  • What sport should be added to or removed from the Olympics?
  • Should college athletes be able to make money off of their merchandise?
  • Should sports teams be able to recruit young athletes without a college degree?
  • Should we consider video gamers as professional athletes?
  • Is cheerleading considered a sport?
  • Should parents allow their kids to play contact sports?
  • Should professional female athletes be paid the same as professional male athletes?
  • Should college be free at the undergraduate level?
  • Is the traditional college experience obsolete?
  • Should you choose a major based on your interests or your potential salary?
  • Should high school students have to meet a required number of service hours before graduating?
  • Should teachers earn more or less based on how their students perform on standardized tests?
  • Are private high schools more effective than public high schools?
  • Should there be a minimum number of attendance days required to graduate?
  • Are GPAs harmful or helpful?
  • Should schools be required to teach about standardized testing?
  • Should Greek Life be banned in the United States?
  • Should schools offer science classes explicitly about mental health?
  • Should students be able to bring their cell phones to school?
  • Should all public restrooms be all-gender?
  • Should undocumented immigrants have the same employment and education opportunities as citizens?
  • Should everyone be paid a living wage regardless of their employment status?
  • Should supremacist groups be able to hold public events?
  • Should guns be allowed in public places?
  • Should the national drinking age be lowered?
  • Should prisoners be allowed to vote?
  • Should the government raise or lower the retirement age?
  • Should the government be able to control the population?
  • Is the death penalty ethical?


  • Should stores charge customers for plastic bags?
  • Should breeding animals (dogs, cats, etc.) be illegal?
  • Is it okay to have exotic animals as pets?
  • Should people be fined for not recycling?
  • Should compost bins become mandatory for restaurants?
  • Should electric vehicles have their own transportation infrastructure?
  • Would heavier fining policies reduce corporations’ emissions?
  • Should hunting be encouraged or illegal?
  • Should reusable diapers replace disposable diapers?

Science & Technology

  • Is paper media more reliable than digital news sources?
  • Should automated/self-driving cars be legalized?
  • Should schools be required to provide laptops to all students?
  • Should software companies be able to have pre-downloaded programs and applications on devices?
  • Should drones be allowed in military warfare?
  • Should scientists invest more or less money into cancer research?
  • Should cloning be illegal?
  • Should societies colonize other planets?
  • Should there be legal oversight over the development of technology?

Social Media

  • Should there be an age limit on social media?
  • Should cyberbullying have the same repercussions as in-person bullying?
  • Are online relationships as valuable as in-person relationships?
  • Does “cancel culture” have a positive or negative impact on societies?
  • Are social media platforms reliable information or news sources?
  • Should social media be censored?
  • Does social media create an unrealistic standard of beauty?
  • Is regular social media usage damaging to real-life interactions?
  • Is social media distorting democracy?
  • How many branches of government should there be?
  • Who is the best/worst president of all time?
  • How long should judges serve in the U.S. Supreme Court?
  • Should a more significant portion of the U.S. budget be contributed towards education?
  • Should the government invest in rapid transcontinental transportation infrastructure?
  • Should airport screening be more or less stringent?
  • Should the electoral college be dismantled?
  • Should the U.S. have open borders?
  • Should the government spend more or less money on space exploration?
  • Should students sing Christmas carols, say the pledge of allegiance, or perform other tangentially religious activities?
  • Should nuns and priests become genderless roles?
  • Should schools and other public buildings have prayer rooms?
  • Should animal sacrifice be legal if it occurs in a religious context?
  • Should countries be allowed to impose a national religion on their citizens?
  • Should the church be separated from the state?
  • Does freedom of religion positively or negatively affect societies?

Parenting & Family

  • Is it better to have children at a younger or older age?
  • Is it better for children to go to daycare or stay home with their parents?
  • Does birth order affect personality?
  • Should parents or the school system teach their kids about sex?
  • Are family traditions important?
  • Should parents smoke or drink around young children?
  • Should “spanking” children be illegal?
  • Should parents use swear words in front of their children?
  • Should parents allow their children to play violent video games?


  • Should all actors be paid the same regardless of gender or ethnicity?
  • Should all award shows be based on popular vote?
  • Who should be responsible for paying taxes on prize money, the game show staff or the contestants?
  • Should movies and television shows have ethnicity and gender quotas?
  • Should newspapers and magazines move to a completely online format?
  • Should streaming services like Netflix and Hulu be free for students?
  • Is the movie rating system still effective?
  • Should celebrities have more privacy rights?

Arts & Humanities

  • Are libraries becoming obsolete?
  • Should all schools have mandatory art or music courses in their curriculum?
  • Should offensive language be censored from classic literary works?
  • Is it ethical for museums to keep indigenous artifacts?
  • Should digital designs be considered an art form? 
  • Should abstract art be considered an art form?
  • Is music therapy effective?
  • Should tattoos be regarded as “professional dress” for work?
  • Should schools place greater emphasis on the arts programs?
  • Should euthanasia be allowed in hospitals and other clinical settings?
  • Should the government support and implement universal healthcare?
  • Would obesity rates lower if the government intervened to make healthy foods more affordable?
  • Should teenagers be given access to birth control pills without parental consent?
  • Should food allergies be considered a disease?
  • Should health insurance cover homeopathic medicine?
  • Is using painkillers healthy?
  • Should genetically modified foods be banned?
  • Should there be a tax on unhealthy foods?
  • Should tobacco products be banned from the country?
  • Should the birth control pill be free for everyone?

If you need more help brainstorming topics, especially those that are personalized to your interests, you can  use CollegeVine’s free AI tutor, Ivy . Ivy can help you come up with original persuasive speech ideas, and she can also help with the rest of your homework, from math to languages.

Do Your Research

A great persuasive speech is supported with plenty of well-researched facts and evidence. So before you begin the writing process, research both sides of the topic you’re presenting in-depth to gain a well-rounded perspective of the topic.

Understand Your Audience

It’s critical to understand your audience to deliver a great persuasive speech. After all, you are trying to convince them that your viewpoint is correct. Before writing your speech, consider the facts and information that your audience may already know, and think about the beliefs and concerns they may have about your topic. Then, address these concerns in your speech, and be mindful to include fresh, new information.

Have Someone Read Your Speech

Once you have finished writing your speech, have someone read it to check for areas of strength and improvement. You can use CollegeVine’s free essay review tool to get feedback on your speech from a peer!

Practice Makes Perfect

After completing your final draft, the key to success is to practice. Present your speech out loud in front of a mirror, your family, friends, and basically, anyone who will listen. Not only will the feedback of others help you to make your speech better, but you’ll become more confident in your presentation skills and may even be able to commit your speech to memory.

Hopefully, these ideas have inspired you to write a powerful, unique persuasive speech. With the perfect topic, plenty of practice, and a boost of self-confidence, we know you’ll impress your audience with a remarkable speech!

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

public speaking controversial topics

Controversial Speech Topics That Will Wake Your Audience


Controversial speech topics in public speaking and writing should not give you shudders especially when everyone is trying to pull the right strings and walk the safe path. You will learn skills that will help you evoke opinions that are strong enough to move your audience, on both sides of the argument. The scope of controversial issues today is just too wide to be ignored. This gives you as a speaker a special place in addressing these issues in numerous fields and to tread slippery grounds playing the devil’s advocate.

The importance of developing argumentative skills is through extensive writing college students have to do in the course of their study.  College writing skills  help students learn the art of critical thinking that comes handy in defending various positions of arguments. A skill that runs through different settings, including political talks and public policy forums. You need this skill as a college student ahead of your final dissertation proposal to energize your argument positions.

What Are Controversial Topics?

Controversial issues are those which span various positions of an argument and often result in disagreements. Controversial persuasive speech topics involve discussions on these issues. Controversy is known to evoke strong emotions especially if it compromising one’s beliefs, values, and ethical principles.

Why Is It Important To Raise Controversial Topics?

Issues leading to controversy are often unspoken. But this is not the position social educators hold today. How else do students acquire substantive knowledge that enhances their understanding of the social world? Speech topics for college students are not only designed to deepen their scope of oratory ideas and the ability to identify good persuasive speech topics but also instill in them a rare capacity to deliver thoughtful judgments and informed decisions amid issues of controversy. Every student needs the knowledge of these controversial topics to craft an informative speech.

How To Choose A Speech Topic?

The initial step towards a successful presentation is your choice of informative speech topics. Most students often get it wrong because they choose topics which they barely deliver. The knowledge of your audience should help shape your topic to resonate with them perfectly. And lastly, is your interest in the topic. Choose a topic that claims much of your interest to increase your credibility during the presentation.

List of Controversial Speech Topics For 2019-2020 Schoolyear

And now let’s explore different examples of controversial topics in various spheres of life. These are among the most interesting topics to talk about in a speech and the most likely to feature in your college writing, classified by field, purpose, and different groups. Knowledge on these topics will equip you with a thorough understanding of the world as well as coming up with a catchy write up such as essays and research proposals. So  why is writing important in education ? Writing and presenting speeches are particularly essential at the college level since they ultimately prepare you to engage with the world and its diverse demography throughout the course of your profession.

  • No negative political campaigning should prevail
  • Electronic voting: concerns around security and privacy.
  • A President governing  a nation by a set code of ethics
  • Abolition of the electoral college
  • Black Lives Matter VS Blue Lives Matter
  • What is the impact of minimum wage on employment?
  • Tax rates are too high
  • Governments bailing out banks and financial institutions
  • Should farmers receive financial protection from perils such as droughts and pests?
  • Labor unions
  • The national deficit
  • Political campaign finance reforms
  • Differences in salaries: professional athletes vs. military men and women
  • Student loan debt

Social policy

  • Women have less wealth. How to fix this.
  • The American welfare state
  • Culture wars: Stigma and discrimination
  • Social work and service delivery issues
  • The spread of hate and racism
  • Causes and effects of world wars I and II
  • The advent of legalized abortion
  • Feminism and women rights
  • Botched executions and the death penalty in America
  • Make personal health records public
  • Medical malpractice protection
  • Ethics around the study of human genetics
  • Medical marijuana and its benefits
  • Animal testing and experiments

Nature and Environment

  • Should we continue using pesticides and harm the environment?
  • Recycling programs should be mandatory
  • Garbage output should be restricted on a weekly basis
  • Global warming: is it happening or mere propaganda?
  • The US-Iraq war was wrong
  • Where is lasting peace for the Middle East?
  • The US should stop playing the world policeman
  • Diplomacy or force? What should we do with North Korea?
  • We shouldn’t allow Iran to go nuclear

Law and order

  • Outlaw capital punishment
  • Firearms with high-capacity magazines should be outlawed
  • Mandatory federal sentencing and its impact
  • How safe are shall-issue laws for concealed carry permits?
  • Prisoners have their rights
  • Should churches continue enjoying their tax-exempt status?
  • Why do churches say NO to divorce?
  • Organized religion has no place in society today
  • Teaching religion in public schools: does it benefit society?
  • Holy Spirit in Christian churches today

Science and researches

  • Use of eugenics to enhance humans
  • Implanted GPS
  • Should we refrain from using genetically modified food products
  • Hormone replacement therapy and ovarian cancer
  • Is human cloning ethical?
  • Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia
  • Should there be slavery reparations?
  • Partial-birth abortion
  • Protection and individual nourishment of children in “the system.”
  • Every person’s life should be protected
  • Sex offender notification
  • Same-sex marriages: legal or illegal?
  • LGBTQ’s have their rights
  • Birth control: it’s regulation and availability
  • Men to take their share in the birth control burden


  • Gambling; legal or illegal
  • Rock and roll is the best kind of music
  • Why advertising alcohol and cigarettes should be banned
  • Social impact of violent video games
  • Body tattooing among other body art
  • Age limit for sexual education
  • Homeschooling and its impact on children
  • Should bilingual education be mandatory?
  • Evolution or creation? Which one should be taught in public high schools?
  • Schools have fallen short of their life skills classes.
  • Walmart needs to implement a dress code
  • Smoking is actually good for you
  • Are cats better companions than dogs?
  • Teenagers should be given credit cards
  • There are benefits in texting while driving.


  • Sex trade should be stopped
  • Is media fair and balanced
  • Legalization of marijuana: what is the impact?
  • The US does not negotiate with terrorists.
  • Government surveillance and public safety


  • Social networking and online privacy
  • Freedom of speech on social media
  • The government should put an end to income inequality
  • Replace the electoral college by popular vote
  • Fuel efficiency of vehicles


  • Self-help books. Do they actually help?
  • “Pride House” for LGBTQ athletics
  • Teens and self-image
  • Adoptive parents should allow biological parents access to the children they gave birth to
  • Teen depression
  • Increase or lower the age of consent?
  • Prohibition vs. drug legalization
  • Chemical and biological warfare
  • Outdoor smoking bans vs. claims to public space
  • Free press vs. fair trial

For Different Groups

For college students.

  • Implanted GPS is an infringement on privacy
  • Availability of HIV drugs kits on drug counters
  • Should mass school shootings be given media attention?
  • The ethics of combining human and animal DNA in stem cells research
  • Health insurance companies’ use of genetic information and medical history of their clients to assess their insurance worthiness.

For high school students

  • Should prayers be imposed in schools?
  • Single parents should not be allowed to adopt
  • Nature vs. nurture. Is going green legit and working?
  • Religion is essential for spiritual growth in a society
  • No adult content should be allowed to feature in cartoon and other programs watched by children
  • Disarming Americans may lead to civil war
  • Journalism is the art of intellectual prostitution
  • Hunting should be encouraged since it brings in money for state and local enterprises
  • Why the all-male court culture has failed
  • The ethics of Drone warfare

The above list puts to rest your quest for good topics to write a speech on. They are the most popular speech topics taking into account both the longstanding controversies in human history and the emerging issues in society.

Therefore, as you begin thinking about your dissertation or thesis proposal at the end of your course, you need to explore some of the persuasive topics above and write extensively to hone your skills. Students are encouraged to think about unique topics for their dissertation papers early in their degree programs and prepare their proposals for approval. A good proposal includes a statement of the problem or a topic of persuasion you seek to explore and the context in which you want to present your ideas. Then a thorough review of the literature relevant to the research problem.

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 55 great debate topics for any project.

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General Education


A debate is a formal discussion about a topic where two sides present opposing viewpoints. Debates follow a specific structure: each side is given time to speak either for or against the topic at hand.

Many students study debate in high school to improve their speaking skills. As a debater, you learn how to clearly structure and present an argument. The skills you develop as a debater will help you on everything from a college admissions interview to a job presentation.

Selecting debate topics is one of the most important parts of debating. In this article, we’ll explain how to select a good debate topic and give suggestions for debate topics you can use.

How to Select Good Debate Topics

A good debate topic is one that lets the participants and the audience learn about both sides of an issue. Consider the following factors when selecting a debate topic:

Interest: Are you interested in the topic? Would the topic be interesting to your fellow classmates, as well as to the audience listening to the debate? Selecting a topic that you’re interested in makes the preparation part of the debate more exciting , as well as the debate more lively.

Argument Potential: You want to choose a debate topic that has solid argument potential. If one side is clearly right, or if there isn’t a lot of available information, you’ll have a hard time crafting a solid debate.

Availability of Data: Data points make an argument more robust. You’ll want to select a topic with lots of empirical data that you can pull from to bolster your argument.

Now that we know how to select a debate topic, let’s look at a list of good debate topics.

Debate Topics Master List

If you’re searching for your next debate topic, here are some suggestions.

Social and Political Issues Debate Topics

  • All people should have the right to own guns.
  • The death penalty should be abolished.
  • Human cloning should be legalized.
  • All drugs should be legalized.
  • Animal testing should be banned.
  • Juveniles should be tried and treated as adults.
  • Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity today.
  • Violent video games should be banned.
  • The minimum wage should be $15 per hour.
  • All people should have Universal Basic Income.
  • Sex work should be legal.
  • Countries should be isolationist.
  • Abortion should be banned.
  • Every citizen should be mandated to perform national public service.
  • Bottled water should be banned.
  • Plastic bags should be banned.

Education Debate Topics

  • Homework should be banned.
  • Public prayer should not be allowed in schools.
  • Schools should block sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram on their computers.
  • School uniforms should be required.
  • Standardized testing should be abolished.
  • All students should have an after-school job or internship.
  • School should be in session year-round.
  • All high school athletes should be drug tested.
  • Detention should be abolished.
  • All student loan debt should be eliminated.
  • Homeschooling is better than traditional schooling.
  • All schools should have armed security guards.
  • Religion should be taught in schools.
  • All schools should be private schools.
  • All students should go to boarding schools.
  • Sexual education should be mandatory in schools.
  • Public college should be tuition free.
  • All teachers should get tenure.
  • All school districts should offer school vouchers.


Health Debate Topics

  • Healthcare should be universal.
  • Cosmetic procedures should be covered by health insurance.
  • All people should be vegetarians.
  • Euthanasia should be banned.
  • The drinking age should be 18.
  • Vaping should be banned.
  • Smoking should be banned in all public places.
  • People should be legally required to get vaccines.
  • Obesity should be labeled a disease.
  • Sexual orientation is determined at birth.
  • The sale of human organs should be legalized.
  • Birth control should be for sale over the counter.

Technology Debate Topics

  • Social media has improved human communication.
  • The development of artificial intelligence will help humanity.
  • Individuals should own their own DNA.
  • Humans should invest in technology to explore and colonize other planets.
  • Governments should invest in alternative energy sources.
  • Net neutrality should be restored.
  • Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies should be encouraged or banned.
  • Alternative energy can effectively replace fossil fuels.
  • Cell phone radiation is dangerous and should be limited.

How to Prepare for a Debate

Once you’ve selected your debate topic, the next step is to prepare for your debate. Follow these steps as you get ready to take the podium.

Read Your Evidence

The most important step to building your debate confidence is to familiarize yourself with the evidence available. You’ll want to select reputable sources and use empirical data effectively.

The more well read on your topic you are, the better you’ll be able to defend your position and anticipate the other side’s arguments.

Anticipate the Other Side’s Arguments

As part of your debate, you’ll need to rebut the other side’s arguments. It’s important to prepare ahead of time to guess what they’ll be talking about. You’ll bolster your own side’s argument if you’re able to effectively dismantle what the other side is saying.

Plan to Fill Your Speech Time

Each speaker at a debate is limited to a certain amount of time. You should plan to use every second of the time that you’re allotted. Make sure you practice your talking points so that you know you’re within the time frame. If you’re short, add in more evidence.

Practice to Build Confidence

It can be scary to take the stage for a debate! Practicing ahead of time will help you build confidence. Remember to speak slowly and clearly. Even if your argument is great, it won’t matter if no one can understand it.

Final Thoughts

Debate is a great way to hone your public speaking skills and get practice crafting and defending an argument. Use these debate topics if you're searching for a focus for your next debate.

What's Next?

Looking for ways to keep the debate going in non-academic life? Then you'll love our list of 101 "this or that" questions to argue over with your friends.

Thinking about how you can use your argumentative skills in a future career? Read up on the five steps to becoming a lawyer to see if that's a path you want to pursue.

Getting ready to take an AP test? Here’s a list of practice tests for every AP exam, including the AP literature exam .

It can be hard to schedule time to study for an AP test on top of your extracurriculars and normal classwork. Check out this article on when you need to start studying for your AP tests to make sure you’re staying on track.

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Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.

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100 Persuasive Speech Topics for Students

  • Homework Tips
  • Learning Styles & Skills
  • Study Methods
  • Time Management
  • Private School
  • College Admissions
  • College Life
  • Graduate School
  • Business School
  • Distance Learning
  • M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
  • B.A., History, Armstrong State University

If you are planning a persuasive speech, you should think about a topic that can engage your audience. For this reason, you may want to consider a few topics before settling on the one that allows you to be more descriptive and entertaining.

Another important factor when picking a persuasive speech topic is to choose one that can provoke your audience. If you stir up a little emotion in your audience members, you'll keep their attention.

The list below is provided to help you brainstorm. Choose a topic from this list, or use it to generate an idea of your own. It could even be an idea that opposes the proposed example. For instance, instead of arguing American workers should be guaranteed a three-day weekend by law, you could argue why this shouldn't be the case.

How to Pick a Good Persuasive Speech Topic

Persuasive speeches are generally meant to convince an audience to agree with an idea you present. The topics can range from political to scientific or societal, and professional to personal—or even fun. They can be almost anything.

Just remember, a persuasive speech is different than a persuasive essay because you are presenting to an audience. So as you decide on a topic, think about your audience and decide on a subject matter that will be appropriate, compelling, and engaging to discuss. Perhaps it's a timely issue attracting a lot of news coverage, or maybe you want to be motivational and encourage a healthy activity. Whatever it is, structure your argument with a hook to capture attention , a clear definition of the topic or issue, and finally, your proposed solution or opinion.

100 Examples of Persuasive Speech Topics

  • Studying martial arts is good for mind and health.
  • Competitive sports can teach us about life.
  • Reality shows are exploiting people.
  • Community service should be a graduation requirement for all high school students.
  • The characteristics that make a person a hero.
  • It's important to grow things in a garden.
  • Violent video games are dangerous.
  • Lyrics in a song can impact our lives.
  • Traveling and studying abroad are positive experiences.
  • Journal writing is therapeutic.
  • You should spend time with your grandparents.
  • A laptop is better than a tablet.
  • Religion and science can go hand in hand.
  • School uniforms are good.
  • All-female colleges and all-male colleges are bad.
  • Multiple-choice tests are better than essay tests .
  • We should not spend money on space exploration.
  • Open-book tests are as effective as closed-book tests.
  • Security cameras keep us safer.
  • Parents should have access to students' grades.
  • Small classes are better than big classes.
  • You need to start saving for retirement now.
  • Credit cards are harmful to college students.
  • We should have a royal family.
  • We should protect endangered animals.
  • Texting while driving is dangerous.
  • You can write a novel.
  • Recycling should be required in the U.S.
  • State colleges are better than private colleges.
  • Private colleges are better than state colleges.
  • We should do away with penny coins.
  • Fast food containers hurt the environment.
  • Plastic straws are harmful to the environment.
  • You can eat and enjoy healthy snacks.
  • You can become a millionaire.
  • Dogs are better pets than cats.
  • You should own a bird.
  • It's unethical to keep birds in cages.
  • Liberal arts degrees prepare graduates to be better workers than other degrees.
  • Hunting animals should be banned.
  • Football is a dangerous sport.
  • School days should start later.
  • Night school is better than day school.
  • Technical training is better than a college degree.
  • Immigration laws should be more lenient.
  • Students should be able to choose their schools.
  • Everyone should learn to play a musical instrument.
  • Grass lawns should be prohibited.
  • Sharks should be protected.
  • We should do away with cars and go back to horse and carriage for transportation.
  • We should use more wind power.
  • We should pay more taxes.
  • We should do away with taxes.
  • Teachers should be tested like students.
  • We should not interfere in the affairs of other countries.
  • Every student should join a club.
  • Homeschooling is better than traditional schooling.
  • People should stay married for life.
  • Smoking in public should be illegal.
  • College students should live on campus .
  • Parents should let students fail.
  • Giving to charity is good.
  • Education makes us happier people.
  • T​he ​ death penalty should be outlawed.
  • Bigfoot is real.
  • We should increase train travel to save the environment.
  • We should read more classic books.
  • Fame is bad for young children.
  • Athletes should stay loyal to teams.
  • We should reform our prisons.
  • Juvenile offenders should not go to boot camps.
  • Abraham Lincoln was the best president.
  • Abraham Lincoln gets too much credit.
  • Students should be allowed to have cell phones in elementary, middle, and high school.
  • College student-athletes should be paid for playing.
  • Elderly citizens on fixed income should receive free public transportation.
  • Colleges and universities should be free to attend.
  • All American citizens should complete one year of community service.
  • Students should be required to take Spanish language classes.
  • Every student should be required to learn at least one foreign language .
  • Marijuana should be legal for recreational use nationwide.
  • Commercial testing of products on animals should no longer be allowed.
  • High school students should be required to participate in at least one team sport.
  • The minimum drinking age in the U.S. should be 25.
  • Replacing fossil fuels with cheaper alternative energy options should be mandated.
  • Churches need to contribute their share of taxes.
  • The Cuba embargo should be maintained by the U.S.
  • America should replace income taxes with a nationwide flat tax.
  • Once they reach the age of 18, all U.S. citizens should be automatically registered to vote .
  • Doctor-assisted suicide should be legal.
  • Spammers—people who bombard the internet with unsolicited email—should be banned from sending junk mail.
  • Every automobile driver should be required to take a new driver's test every three years.
  • Electroshock treatment is not a humane form of therapy.
  • Global warming is not real.
  • Single-parent adoption should be encouraged and promoted.
  • Gun companies should be held accountable for gun crimes.
  • Human cloning is not moral.
  • Religion does not belong in public education.
  • Juveniles should not be tried as adults.
  • American workers should be guaranteed a three-day weekend by law.
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30 Good Controversial Speech Topics

Here is a list of good controversial speech topics to consider using for your next presentation.

Remember these are ideas for controversial speeches, so you don't want to just inform your audience of the subject. You need to pick a side and make an argument that your view on the topic is the right one.

Good Controversial Speech Topics - 1 to 10

public speaking controversial topics

  • alcohol has a more significant negative impact on society than marijuana
  • use of certain performance-enhancing drugs should/should not be allowed by athletes
  • condoms should/should not be offered in high schools
  • the voting age should be lowered to 16
  • parental consent should/should not be required for underage pregnant women to have abortions
  • gay couples should/should not be given the same legal rights as heterosexuals in adopting children
  • couples should/should not be banned from adopting children overseas
  • the USA and its allies should/should not have invaded Afghanistan
  • age discrimination should/should not be made illegal in the workplace
  • age of consent laws should/should not be lowered

Confederate War - controversial speech

  • the sale and consumption of alcohol should be illegal
  • attorney-client privilege should/should not be abolished
  • the assassination of a dictator can/cannot be justified
  • assisted suicide should/should not be legalized
  • beauty contests are/are not harmful
  • boxing should/should not be banned
  • voting in elections should/should not be compulsory
  • the Confederate flag should/should not be banned
  • corporal punishment is/is not a justifiable method of punishing children
  • schools should/should not be allowed to teach creationism along with evolution
  • the "double jeopardy" rule should/should not be abolished
  • public officials should/should not be randomly tested for drugs
  • feminism is/is not relevant today
  • there should/should not be public schools open to only one race
  • it is/is not justifiable to force gay/lesbian celebrities out of the closet in the interest of gay rights
  • polygamy should/should not be legal
  • countries that benefited from slavery should/should not compensate the descendants of slaves
  • schools should/should not have the right to search students' lockers
  • voting rights in the United Nations General Assembly should/should not be restricted countries with democratic political systems
  • violent video games should/should not be banned or restricted

Good controversial speech topics

I hope you found a few good controversial speech topics that inspired you! If you've written a controversial speech and would like to share it with visitors to Best Speech Topics, please send it in ! I'd love to hear from you.

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The Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Perfect Public Speaking Topic

Public Speaking Topic Selection

Identifying the purpose of the speech

Kickstarting your public speaking journey involves  identifying the overall goal  or purpose of your speech. This essential step paves the way to productive topic selection, ensuring a focused and targeted message that resonates with your audience.

The core purpose of any speech may be informative, persuasive, or ceremonial – each category hosting its own unique elements and requirements. For example, an informative speech seeks primarily to enlighten and educate listeners on a chosen subject area.

On the other hand, persuasive speeches aim for attitude adjustment – convincing listeners towards a certain viewpoint or action through compelling arguments and evidence presentation. Ceremonial events like weddings or graduations call for emotionally-laden speeches but don’t discount concise humor! Choosing a properly narrowed topic is vital here; it helps align the ever-present general purpose: to inform, entertain, persuade with each specific event type.

Remember personal interests can also make memorable topics – there’s nothing like genuine passion in conveying impactful messages in public speaking.

Analyzing the audience and their interests

Public speaking is not a monologue, but rather a dynamic interaction between speaker and audience. Engaging the audience pivots on assessing topic interest and knowledge – what excites them about your chosen topic, and how well-versed are they in it already? The significance of your theme to your listeners can evoke curiosity or emotional connection, motivating them to listen actively .

Cultural sensitivity plays an enormous role here. Understanding the cultural diversity within your target audience aids in adapting your speech so it resonates with each individual’s unique background.

Moreover, it encourages healthy conversation, promoting respect for all perspectives present. Gathering audience demographics further enables you to tailor some aspects of the talk; age ranges or occupations often share certain traits that can be addressed specifically for enhanced engagement.

Analyzing the audience isn’t just about catering to their interests – there’s also an element of considering situational factors related to the physical setting and context of the speech itself.

This feeds into building common ground with listeners through shared experiences or understanding, strengthening bonds between speaker and listener from multiple angles.

Brainstorming potential topics

Diving into the process of  brainstorming potential topics  is an exhilarating exercise. It involves opening up your mind to a wide array of possibilities, allowing for creativity and fresh ideas.

This often starts with broad subjects–an expansive field full of opportunity.

Using the Topic Selection Helper Web page as a handy tool might fast-track this creative exploration. Its efficiency comes from the way it serves up multiple avenues for you to wander down, aiding in list generation filled with prospective speech themes.

Yet, one thing remains paramount – personal significance in topic selection. As Kareem exemplifies, meaningful and relevant topics derived from brainstorming not only resonate more powerfully with the speaker but also translate this enthusiasm to the audience effectively.

Coupled with preparation and organization for a speech, such customized topics can create an impactful presentation.

As short sentences punctuate each point articulated and active voices deliver them energetically; remember that supporting material strengthens your chosen topic while in-depth research ensures a comprehensive understanding of it – both crucial elements that feed back into generating compelling speeches during these brainstorming session.

Narrowing down the list of potential topics

In the exciting journey of speech preparation,  narrowing down the list of potential topics  can often pose a challenge. As a public speaker, you are likely to have several ideas running through your mind.

It’s crucial to streamline these thoughts into solid options for your speech topic selection. Brainstorming is one way to generate this list of prospective talking points; however, efficient topic selection for speeches doesn’t end at brainstorming.

After creating a comprehensive list, start identifying narrow speech topics – those with not enough material for extensive exploration within your time limit. The goal here is to find an engaging subject that fits snugly within the parameters set by your speaking window.

This process ensures that every point you make will be impactful and resonant with your audience.

And don’t forget: while selecting an apt theme from your list of narrowed-down choices, always consider audience engagement and relevancy as top priorities! After all, without a captivated audience intrigued by what you bring to the podium or stage, even well-crafted words might fall flat in delivery.

Remember also that topic selection should align with personal values and beliefs whenever possible – authenticity shines right through! No one can sell or offer insights on a story better than someone who genuinely believes in it themselves.

Considering current events and trends

Considering current events and trends is a crucial step in selecting a speech topic that will captivate your audience. Staying up to date with the latest news and popular trends allows you to tap into topics that are relevant and timely.

By aligning your speech with current events, you can demonstrate that you are aware of what’s happening in the world, which helps establish credibility and relevance.

Additionally, analyzing trends provides insight into what topics are currently resonating with people. This knowledge allows you to choose a subject matter that will capture the interest of your specific audience.

Whether it’s discussing advancements in technology, exploring social issues, or examining emerging industries, incorporating current events and trends into your speech adds an element of excitement and relevance.

Furthermore, by  considering current events and trends  when selecting your speech topic, you can ensure that your content remains fresh and engaging. As new developments occur in various fields or impactful stories make headlines, these become opportunities for creating informative speeches that spark meaningful conversations.

In summary, keeping abreast of current events and trends enables you to select a speech topic that is both timely and captivating for your audience. It showcases your awareness of what’s happening in the world while helping establish credibility and relevance.

So take advantage of this valuable resource as you brainstorm ideas for an engaging public speaking experience!

Researching the chosen topic

Researching the chosen topic is a crucial step in preparing for public speaking. Once you have narrowed down your list of potential topics, it’s time to dive deeper and gather more information.

Start by conducting online research, reading articles, books, and credible sources related to your chosen topic. This will help you gain a better understanding of the subject matter and ensure that your speech is well-informed.

Additionally, consider interviewing experts or individuals who have knowledge and experience on the topic. Their insights can provide valuable perspectives and enhance the credibility of your speech.

Take notes during your research process to keep track of important points or statistics that you may want to include in your speech.

Remember that while researching is essential, it’s also important not to get overwhelmed with too much information. Focus on finding key facts or supporting evidence that will strengthen your main points and make them more memorable for your audience.

A well-researched speech demonstrates expertise on the topic and increases audience engagement.

By thoroughly researching your chosen topic, you’ll be able to deliver a well-informed and engaging speech that captivates your audience’s attention. So take the time to dig deeper into the subject matter, gather relevant information from reputable sources, and incorporate those findings into an impactful presentation that leaves a lasting impression on everyone listening.

Evaluating the feasibility of the topic

To deliver a successful speech, it’s crucial to evaluate the feasibility of your chosen topic. This involves considering various factors such as the availability of credible sources and the level of interest it holds for both you and your audience.

You’ll want to ensure that there is enough information available on the topic so that you can provide valuable insights and keep your audience engaged throughout your speech. Conduct thorough research to gather relevant data and statistics, making sure to use trustworthy sources.

Another aspect of evaluating feasibility is examining whether the topic aligns with your personal values and beliefs. It’s important to choose a subject that you’re genuinely passionate about, as this will help convey sincerity in your delivery.

Additionally, consider how much time you have available for preparation. A complex or broad topic might require more research and preparation compared to a narrow or specific one.

By taking these aspects into account during topic selection, you increase the likelihood of delivering an impactful speech that resonates with both yourself and your audience. So remember – choose a feasible topic based on extensive research, alignment with personal values, relevance to current events or trends if applicable, and consideration for time constraints.

Choosing a topic that aligns with personal values and beliefs

When selecting a topic for your public speaking engagement, it is essential to choose one that aligns with your personal values and beliefs. By doing so, you’ll be able to deliver your speech authentically and passionately, captivating your audience’s attention.

When you speak about something that truly matters to you, it shows in the way you present yourself on stage.

Consider what topics resonate with your core principles and interests. Are there social issues or causes that hold significant importance for you? Or perhaps there are subjects related to your profession or expertise that you feel strongly about? Selecting a topic aligned with your personal value system not only allows you to share valuable insights but also helps establish credibility with your audience.

Remember, when preparing for a speech, strive for comfort and confidence in the chosen subject matter. Research extensively to deepen your understanding of the topic and gather relevant facts from reliable sources.

This will enable you to provide well-informed knowledge during the presentation and address any potential questions effectively.

Additionally, keep in mind that choosing a topic based on personal values and beliefs ensures consistency in how it fits within the context of other aspects of life as well. It creates harmony between who we are as individuals and what we advocate for professionally or personally.

In summary, select a topic that resonates deeply with your personal values and beliefs when preparing for public speaking engagements. By doing so, not only will you bring authenticity to your delivery but also establish credibility and captivate audiences through passion-infused presentations.

Considering the time constraints for the speech

Considering the time constraints for your speech is crucial in ensuring a successful presentation. When selecting a topic, it’s important to keep in mind the duration of your speech and how much information you can reasonably cover within that time frame.

By narrowing down the scope of your topic based on time limitations, you can ensure that you have enough material to engage your audience without overwhelming them.

Take into account the writing ease as well when considering time constraints. Choosing a topic that is too complex or requires extensive research may not be feasible within the given timeframe.

It’s important to strike a balance between an interesting and substantial topic while also keeping it manageable for preparation.

Remember that audience engagement and your own passion play key roles in choosing a successful speech topic. Consider what topics align with both the interests of your audience and your personal values and beliefs.

Being genuinely passionate about your chosen subject will help captivate your listeners and make for a more compelling delivery.

Keep in mind that there might be limited options available due to various factors such as current events or trends, so be open-minded during brainstorming sessions. Seek feedback from others on potential topics to gain different perspectives.

Considering the time constraints when selecting a topic ensures that you deliver an engaging speech while making effective use of the allocated time. Remember to keep these factors in mind while researching and evaluating potential topics, allowing you to choose one that fits perfectly within both context and duration constraints.

Seeking feedback from others on the chosen topic.

After narrowing down your list of potential topics for a public speaking engagement, it’s important to seek feedback from others. This step is crucial because getting input from different perspectives can provide valuable insights and help you refine your chosen topic.

Feedback can come from a variety of sources, such as trusted friends, colleagues, or even mentors who have experience in public speaking.

By seeking feedback, you open up the opportunity to receive constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement. Others may be able to offer fresh ideas or point out any blind spots that you might have overlooked during the selection process.

Additionally, their feedback can help ensure that your chosen topic resonates with your target audience and aligns with their interests.

While it’s essential to consider other people’s opinions, remember that ultimately the decision rests with you. You should choose a topic that not only receives positive feedback but also sparks your own passion and enthusiasm.

By combining external input with personal values and beliefs, you create a speech that is authentic and engaging.

In summary, seeking feedback on your chosen topic allows for multiple perspectives and invaluable advice. It helps refine your speech idea while ensuring alignment with audience interests. Make sure to listen carefully to the suggestions offered by others while staying true to yourself as you prepare for an impactful public speaking event.

1. How do I choose a topic for public speaking?

Choosing a topic for public speaking involves identifying your interests and expertise, considering the audience’s preferences and needs, and selecting a subject that is relevant, engaging, and unique.

2. What are some popular topics for public speaking?

Popular topics for public speaking include leadership skills , effective communication techniques, personal development and motivation, career success strategies, technology trends, social issues, environmental sustainability, and mental health awareness.

3. How can I ensure my public speaking topic is captivating?

To ensure your public speaking topic is captivating, you should focus on creating a strong opening to grab the audience’s attention, incorporating engaging stories or anecdotes related to the subject matter, using visual aids effectively to enhance understanding and engagement, delivering passionate delivery with confidence and enthusiasm.

4. Should I select a controversial topic for public speaking?

Selecting a controversial topic for public speaking can be impactful as it sparks discussions and engages the audience; however it also carries risks of polarizing opinions or triggering sensitive emotions. Consider carefully whether your target audience will be receptive to such topics before choosing controversy as part of your speech content strategy.


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45 Public Speaking Topics and Ideas

October 4, 2018 - Helen Hooper

Do you enjoy standing up in front of a large audience and making a speech? Or do you get so nervous that you forget what you were going to tell the audience about?

If the answer to the second question is “yes,” then you’re not alone. Many people, including well-known entrepreneurs, politicians, and actors, aren’t fans of public speaking. For example, did you know that Richard Branson is among them? Yes, one of the best entrepreneurs in history has a real far of public speaking!

“I loathe making speeches, and always have,”  Branson admitted  in one of the interviews. “Over the years, however, I have become much more practiced at giving speeches, though it still makes me a bit nervous.”

Richard Branson giving a public speech

“Fortunately, the fear of public speaking shouldn’t be an insurmountable obstacle for you with some learning and practice,” says Gordon Stevens, a motivational coach. “The more you develop your skills, the more confident you’ll feel during your speeches.”

Moreover, having strong public skills can greatly boost your career and improve your position in the labor market.  Warren Buffet stated  “you can improve your value by 50 percent just by learning communication skills – public speaking”

So, whether you’re looking for topics for your next public speech or just for practice, take a look at these 45 ideas, including tips on how to choose the best ones for your purpose.

Public speaking topics

Category: science.

1. Why humans should colonize mars

Let’s be honest here, humans are endangered species because all of us live only on one planet. Colonizing mars increases the chance of long-term survival of humankind and has many other benefits, so it’s definitely a great topic to talk about.

2. When will AI exceed human performance?

It’s one of the most discussed topics in science right now because AI has been developing at an amazing speed in the recent years. So, there are tons of quality materials to retrieve information from, such as  this article from cornell university .

3. What is the future of commercial space flight?

Elon musk has recently announced the name of the first space tourist who will orbit the moon several times on SpaceX’s most advanced spacecraft, the BFR. When do you think this will happen?

4. Should nanotechnology research continue?

With all the risks and ethical issues that nanotechnology research is facing now, it could be an interesting topic to discuss.

5. Should we bring extinct species back from the dead?

Animal cloning is becoming more common, so cloning extinct species appears to be a matter of time. But should we really bring back animals like mammoths? What would we do with them if we succeed?

6. Potential for super greenhouse effect on earth

Global warming is the real thing, and governments around the world are starting to take this issue seriously. But where are we on our way to triggering a runaway greenhouse effect that turned our neighboring planet Venus into a hellish world?

7. What is gene therapy?

For example, could we use it to prevent diseases and conditions?

8. Why whales should not be hunted for food

Also an interesting topic that touches upon one of the most relevant issues in environmental health.

9. Stephen Hawking’s contributions to science

One of the greatest minds in history, Stephen Hawking, passed away recently, so it would be great to share his main contributions to science.

10. When will the next solar superflare hit earth?

The scientists know it’s coming, but can we make some predictions?

Category: self-development and self-help topics

11. How can you improve public speaking skills?

Why not, right?

12. What leadership style is the most suitable for your personality?

There are a number of leadership styles, so finding out which one suits you is an interesting idea.

13. How to get a fresh start after a breakup / divorce?

14. Why you should become a freelancer

15. Why being lazy isn’t always a bad thing

16. What Richard Branson recommends to everyone to make everyday a success

Here are  some materials  for you to start researching.

17. Why you should visit at least 5 countries by the time you’re 30

18. Gluten isn’t bad for health

19. Scientific evidence on why you shouldn’t skip your breakfast

20. Why success if often an extreme tolerance for failure (Jeff Bezos experience)

Jeff Bezos is an excellent example of a person who  thinks of a failure as a chance to learn .

Category: society

21. Do professional athletes make too much money?

22. Why the your country should promote legal immigration

23. Is it possible to eliminate poverty in every country in the world?

24. The internet should be free for everyone

25. Why punishing children for bullying others isn’t a solution

This conversation article  has some good ideas on that for you to explore.

26. The U.S. should encourage the spirit of volunteerism

27. Society should make monopolies illegal

28. Is our society too dependent on technology?

29. Why we need to support local businesses

30. Being gay: choice or nature?

31. Cell phone use while driving should be banned in all U.S. states.

Category: workplace

32. How to spot a toxic employee?

33. Give 5 reasons why we should abolish tipping restaurant servers

This Huffington Post article  will be of great help to you on this topic.

34. Why the minimum wage should be raised?

35. Top reasons why best employees invest in employee wellness programs

36. The best ways to increase employee engagement for better performance

37. Should age discrimination be a criminal offence?

38. All internships should be paid internships

39. The minimum age for unsupervised driving should be raised to 18

40. LGBT workers are protected from workplace discrimination.

Category: controversial

41. Airline passengers should sacrifice their privacy for the sake of flight safety

42. Your government should promote conservation

43. Your government should make animal testing illegal

44. The use of the internet by teens should be limited

45. The internet contributes to media bias

How to choose a public speaking topic?

Check out these quick tips for picking a great topic:

  • Choose a topic that you’re fairly familiar with or have an interest in. This might help you to include some personal experience as a bonus to your speech.
  • Know your audience. Your topic should always resemble the interests of your audience, otherwise they could find it boring. In this case, you’ll be wasting yours and their time.
  • Pick up a hot topic that describes a current event, place, or process.

Read this article for additional information on  choosing a public speaking topic .

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39 Choosing a Persuasive Topic

Learning Objectives

  • Explore persuasive topics for an upcoming speech.

Controversial Topics Are Important and Risky

Some of the most interesting topics are controversial. They are  controversial topics because people have deeply felt values and beliefs on different sides of those topics. For instance, before you choose nuclear energy as your topic, investigate the many voices speaking out both in favor and against increasing its use. Many people perceive nuclear energy as a clean, reliable, and much-needed source of energy. Others say that even the mining of uranium is harmful to the environment, that we lack satisfactory solutions for storing nuclear waste, and that nuclear power plants are vulnerable to errors and attacks. Another group might view the issue economically, believing that industry needs nuclear energy. Engineers might believe that if the national grid could be modernized, we would have enough energy and that we should strive to use and waste less energy until modernization is feasible. Some might feel deep concern about our reliance on foreign oil. Others might view nuclear energy as more tried-and-true than other alternatives. The topic is extremely controversial, and yet it is interesting and very important.

You shouldn’t avoid controversy altogether, but you should choose your topic carefully. Certain controversial topics will not work well with the situational context of a classroom presentation. For instance, consider abortion or gun control. Gun control has been hotly debated since the first piece of gun control regulation was passed in 1934. Abortion has been just as hotly debated since states began to make it illegal in the late 1800s. Furthermore, both of these topics are value related. If these issues have not been solved in the past 100 years, you are not going to change anyone’s mind in a 7 minute classroom presentation about either of these topics (among others). Thus, choosing these topics will set you up for failure before you even begin the speech-making process.

Choosing a Persuasive Speech Topic 

Now that we have explored some definitions of persuasion and advocacy, let us move on to choosing the topic that you will be presenting to your audience.  When picking a topic, you may consider choosing something that you are passionate about and/or something that you want to know more about.  Take a moment to consider topics that we would like to share with your audience.  Individuals have different experiences and perspectives on varying issues.  Sharing your perspective on a topic is what can make your presentation unique and exciting to the audience.

When looking for a topic, cause, or issue to discuss, consider asking yourself the following questions (also located in worksheets):

  •         What is important to me?
  •         What excites me?
  •         What makes me happy?
  •         What makes me angry?
  •         Do I have a good idea that others might embrace?
  •         Is there an issue that ‘speaks’ to me?
  •         Can I make a change?
  •         Have I experienced something inspiring or life-changing that I can share with others?

Here are some additional ideas to consider when choosing a topic:

  • Choose a topic that is (relatively) new to you!  You may consider taking some time to explore a topic that you do not yet know about and/or one that you want to learn more about.  Perhaps you recently read, saw, or experienced something that you would like to research and share with your audience.  Maybe you began your process with not knowing which side you support on an issue, and you take some time to research both sides of an issue and determine which you support.  You can use this presentation as an opportunity to learn more about that topic and can then talk about this process in your presentation.  Using the research that you have gathered will help you as you explain to the audience why they should share your perspective on the item at hand.
  • Choose a topic that you already know about and feel strongly that your audience should share your views on this topic.  For this type of presentation, you will be taking your knowledge and expanding it.  You can search for items that support your side and also take some time to review the data provided by those that support the opposite side of the issue.

Where to Find Ideas for Persuasive Topics

Your college library databases are a great place to start. The following video highlights two MCC databases that are particularly good for persuasive topics. Watch the video for instructions on accessing and using the databases.

Additional Considerations

While there are topics that will not work well within the context, there are many that will. How do you narrow down the possibilities?

  • Consider your passions: What are you passionate about? You will enjoy researching and your delivery will naturally be more animated with a topic you care about.
  • Consider your community: Which issues are pressing in your community? It will be easier to connect your topic with your audience if it is an issue that potentially could affect them.
  • Consider your audience: After you perform your audience analysis, which topics may be of concern to your audience members? It will be easier to persuade them if the issue is relevant to them.
  • Consider the context: Use the assignment description and situational analysis to narrow down ideas that will and won’t work for the assignment. Some topics will just naturally “fit” better. Set yourself up for success by using this information to help you make a decision.

Key Takeaways

  • There are several important considerations when choosing a speech topic.
  • Some topics are risky and set speakers up for failure due to contextual elements.
  • You must consider your passions and the audience when choosing a speech topic.

Fundamentals of Public Speaking  by Lumen Learning is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Why Conduct an Audience Analysis. (2020, December 28). https://socialsci.libretexts.org/@go/page/79679

Public Speaking Copyright © by Dr. Layne Goodman; Amber Green, M.A.; and Various is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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4 Strategies for Developing Confident Student Speakers

Consistent support and low-stakes opportunities to practice go a long way to help students overcome the challenges of speaking in front of a group.

High school student speaking in front of the class

I belted out the opening line to Marc Antony’s funeral speech from The Tragedy of Julius Caesar , leaping up the stairs to the stage in my school’s auditorium. Thirteen ninth-grade students dressed in togas sat in the front rows, mouths agape, as they witnessed their goofy teacher unexpectedly launch into the 35-line monologue they had all just beautifully performed. 

Confession: I was nervous walking onto that stage—I sometimes get uncomfortable in the (literal) spotlight. To normalize feelings of anxiety during a performance, I revealed those emotions to my class afterward. 

Public speaking is hard, and it can be extremely daunting for our most introverted students ; however, with modeling and practice, I believe that teachers can cultivate confident speakers.

Strategy 1: Provide Direct Instruction

A poster inspired by Erik Palmer’s work on public speaking ( PVLEGS : Poise, Voice, Life, Eye Contact, Gestures, Speed) hangs in the back of my classroom. Well before we launch into a study of the funeral orations from Caesar , I explicitly teach those skills. I demonstrate for students appropriate eye contact—the speaker locks eyes briefly with individual audience members and scans the room as she speaks, establishing a connection with her audience. The speaker might also speed up his voice for a certain effect or raise his arms to command the attention of his audience.

Strategy 2: Provide Public Speaking Models

After we spend a class closely reading and analyzing the two funeral orations by Marc Antony and Brutus, I play clips of the speeches from the two film adaptations. We watch the performances and think about PVLEGS: Which speaking moves does each actor utilize in his performance? Which actor delivers the stronger performance and why? After we watch and students share their observations with partners, we discuss and debate the merits of each performance. 

When my classes work on memorizing and performing the monologues, I ask them to study the models and even borrow some of the actors’ techniques. They consider: Do I want to take an angrier approach to the Antony speech like Marlon Brando? Should I adopt a regretful tone like Jason Robards’ Brutus? This type of close viewing could be applied to any speaking performance. On a related note, I also hope that I serve as a public speaking model for my students as I stand in front of my English classes daily.

Strategy 3: Acknowledge and Coach through Anxiety

I remember stumbling through my senior research presentation in high school, well before the advent of interactive whiteboards and Google Slides. I’m vulnerable with my students about my former public speaking struggles. I want them to know that they’re not alone, and through practice and repetition, their self-doubt and fear can transform from an eardrum-rupturing siren into a quiet background hum.

I give a few bits of advice to nervous speakers as they prepare for any public speaking activity. First, I urge them to “practice, practice, practice!” If they know their stuff, they’ll be much more confident on game day. I also find that most students who report feeling very nervous while speaking don’t always appear nervous to others. Sharing this anecdotal evidence with them helps students tune out their inner critics and feel more calm. I also find lots of opportunities to confer with reluctant speakers and give them plenty of encouragement. This fosters stronger connections with my students and boosts their confidence. 

Strategy 4: Provide Lots of Low-Stakes Speaking Opportunities 

My Caesar unit usually takes place in the second semester, when students have had plenty of low-stakes speaking opportunities. In almost every class, I ask students to turn and talk to their partners to share a sentence from a quickwrite or to check in on their current drafts. Earlier in the year, I coach them on how to effectively talk to their partners, and the process quickly becomes routine. An effective technique to get all students speaking, even if it’s a quick response, is the whip-around. Teacher Marcus Luther asks a question with a short, one-word answer. He then goes around the room and has each student answer aloud, followed by a debrief with partners or groups. 

My favorite low-stakes speaking activity is the Pop-Up Debate , which teacher Dave Stuart Jr. invented and has been writing about for years. In this activity, the class is presented with a question, and they spend 10 minutes writing an answer to it. After that, the debate begins, and students simply “pop-up” at their desks to enter into the conversation. In my experience, this activity can transform a usually quiet class into an engaged one. Secondary students love to argue, even about literature! 

Flexibility, Support, and Incentives Develop Strong Speakers 

In many ways, the memorized funeral oration is the most high-stakes speaking task my ninth-grade honors students participate in throughout the year. I give a grade for this assessment, but to take the focus off of grades and to place that focus on improvement instead, I provide students with a few crutches to lean on. 

First, if students forget a line, a friend acts as a prompter in the pit with the text ready. Students can also revise the performance if they choose to. I tell students that they can redo the performance if it doesn’t go as planned. At the end of the class, if time allows, a handful of students always choose to give it another shot. I find that this also takes the pressure off. I think of it like a writing assignment; students can always revise a paper to improve it. Finally, I give them extra credit for wearing togas, which adds to the fun of the special day.

In a recent article in The Atlantic , “ End the Phone-Based Childhood Now ,” author Jonathan Haidt reports that Gen Z students are more anxious, shy, and risk-averse than the children of the past, which he attributes to social media and the introduction of the smartphone. Risk-taking, Haidt argues, “promote[s] competence, maturity, and mental health.” Public speaking, a type of risk-taking, can be very frightening for some of our students, but if teachers provide them with speaking opportunities each day, month, and school year, perhaps we can help mold them into confident, healthy young adults who venture into the world as strong public speakers. 

Thank you to my former department chair, Janet Matthews, for the Julius Caesar performance activity.

My Speech Class

Public Speaking Tips & Speech Topics

259 Interesting Speech Topics [Examples + Outlines]

Photo of author

Jim Peterson has over 20 years experience on speech writing. He wrote over 300 free speech topic ideas and how-to guides for any kind of public speaking and speech writing assignments at My Speech Class.

interesting speech topics

The most asked question I get almost every day from students is this:

What makes a topic interesting?

Well, the answer is simple. You have to like it yourself, the subject has to be appropriate to the rules of the assignment, to the audience and the setting of the meeting:

In this article:

How To Find An Interesting Topic

Best interesting speech topics, interesting persuasive speech topics, interesting informative speech topics, topics with outline.

1 – Look in magazines, journals, and newspapers for events.

Can We Write Your Speech?

Get your audience blown away with help from a professional speechwriter. Free proofreading and copy-editing included.

Current or historical, that does not matter at this point, both are okay – and recent engaging and exciting facts, and perhaps valuable information that attracts the attention.

Articles about subjects that interests you and that are comfortable for you to talk about are good indications.

2 – Jot down any possible idea that comes up for interesting speech topics. I always draft a short list for myself of candidate issues if I am contracted for a public speaking engagement.

And then I skip the ones that are too difficult and too complex to prepare and master in 8 to 10 minutes time.

3 – Review some online books on the subject for more detailed current information about your topic. Or go to a library and ask for books and reference articles about your subject.

Without exception, all librarians I know will help you sorting out the speechwriter subject with their advice and recommendations. For example you choose for an alluring pleasure physical activity or farming and countryside topic.

Try to understand how the author has covered it. What’s his structure? What points, information or arguments are the strongest? What examples and illustrations has she or he used?

4 – Peerless reliable statistics and new discoveries can help writing and refining.

Look for controversies, rare and strange opinions. What do you think of it? What do you want your audience to think of it?

5 – Think about related engaging interpretive hints to talk about. When you view your rough list, try to find new points, different angles of view or just turn your thoughts upside down. Look at the special aspects that surprise the listeners.

>>>  For example try these 2 more detailed summary outlines with main points and subpoints. Use my sample structure to add or otherwise wipe steps and stages you do not need.

>>>  In addition to these patterns, you find more ideas for outlined main points in my Minute Section (in the navigation menu bar right on your left of this portal page). Or move straight to sixty plus lineups for speechwriters.

That can be very enlighting for enhancing public discernment. They also can  see , feel, or even  taste  and  smell  what you try to explain or demonstrate in a couple of minutes.

6 – Look for supporting and also for opposing opinions, plus interesting speech topics statements. Add visual aids where you want to emphasize or to give some prominence to an unimaginable point in your interesting topic idea.

7 – Watch news shows, history documentaries and debating programs – for example, the morning shows and the evening news. They are especially helpful for developing a rough list of wheedling brainstorms.

Interesting Speech Topic Examples

Don’t have time to read our full list of 200+ topic ideas? Here is our list of 10 interesting speech topics.

  • Beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder
  • Children don’t play enough
  • Animal testing is necessary
  • Girls are too mean to each other
  • Men should get paternity leave
  • Tattoos are an addiction
  • If I had a year to do what I want
  • Butterflies: deadly creatures
  • How to ruin a date in the first minute
  • The meaning of dreams

Here is our list of top interesting persuasive speech topics.

  • Beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder.
  • Hyper active kids don’t need medication.
  • Books are always better than the movie.
  • Pick up lines do work.
  • Televise all court proceedings.
  • Suspend referees that are found to show too much bias.
  • There is no place for monarchs any more.
  • It is false that no one is above the law.
  • You tube needs to monitor comments.
  • Online friends show more compassion.
  • Cross cultural couples respect each other more.
  • Graffiti must be recognised as art.
  • You can loose weight without exercising.
  • Children don’t play enough.
  • Carpets are harmful and shouldn’t be in homes.
  • Sex education doesn’t work.
  • Ban smoking in all public places.
  • Women cheat just as much as men.
  • Prohibit destruction of rainforests.
  • Global warming is a myth.
  • Justice is never the same for all.
  • Video games are not the blame of violence at school.
  • Financial rewards is the only way employees stay loyal.
  • The world isn’t only black and white.
  • Give girls over 16 contraceptives without parents consent.
  • Calories should be included in restaurant menus.
  • Sugar tax won’t reduce obesity.
  • Pregnancy as a result of rape should be terminated.
  • All couples must live together before getting married.
  • Animal testing is necessary.
  • Children’s beauty pageants are wrong.
  • There are not enough cameras in public spaces.
  • Freedom of speech rights needs to be rewritten.
  • Random DUI test should be done on parents picking up children after school.
  • Atheists are more peaceful than religious people.
  • Heterosexual men and women can be just friends.
  • Adoptive parents need maternity leave too.
  • Print advertisements don’t work.
  • Click bate headlines are the cause of less followers.
  • Don’t give children allowances.
  • Stop checking in on social media.
  • There would be more divorces if couples didn’t have children.
  • Compensate organ donors.
  • Celebrities are not role models.
  • Do drug tests on welfare recipients.
  • Stem cell research is murder.
  • People should be considered adults at 21.
  • Religion is the cause of war.
  • Life was not easier a century ago.
  • Men are better forgivers.
  • Making substances illegal only makes people want them more.
  • Parenting classes must be compulsory.
  • Helicopter parents are damaging their children.
  • Give working moms special privileges.
  • Social media fame is a scam.
  • Make paparazzi photographing children a criminal offence.
  • Food should never be seen as a reward.
  • 6 hours is not enough sleep for an adult.
  • People can live without eating meat.
  • Curfews do not keep teens out of trouble.
  • Electronic textbooks don’t have the same impact as the printed version.
  • This generation cannot fix anything.
  • Boredom always leads to trouble.
  • Girls are too mean to each other.
  • Affirmative action isn’t right.
  • School system is responsible for low test scores.
  • Men should get paternity leave.
  • Fast food needs to come with more warnings.
  • Killing a murderer is immoral.
  • Famous people must stay away from politics.
  • Long distance relationships do work.
  • Men are the stronger sex.
  • Jobs shouldn’t be gender specific.
  • Religion won’t die away.
  • Women shouldn’t give birth after 40.
  • Abortion is murder.
  • Tattoos are an addiction.
  • Drug addiction is a choice.
  • Social media will run it’s course and die out.
  • Caesarian sections are safer than normal births.
  • There is a connection between science and religion.
  • Never pay children for good grades.
  • People in open marriages are not happy.
  • The soul does exist.
  • People’s salaries should reflect their performances.
  • English will always be the business language of the world.
  • Why you should always put yourself first.
  • Earth has not been explored properly.
  • Women are more intelligent than they give away.
  • Alternatives to evolution exist.
  • Prisons create criminals.
  • Sick building syndromes exist.
  • Strategic defense and ethics do not match.
  • The War on Terror is based on a hidden agenda.
  • Aging is a threat to pension funding.
  • Airline safety restrictions won’t stop terrorists.
  • Alcohol advertising stimulates underage alcohol use.
  • All humans are spiritual in one way or another.
  • Arts express the level of quality in different cultures.
  • Atheists do care about Christmas.
  • Australian aboriginal tattooing is art.
  • Ban the filibuster from Congress.
  • Body piercings can cause serious complications.
  • Books are outdated.
  • Censorship is a violation of freedom of speech.
  • Charities must minimize the organizational and overhead costs.
  • Child testimonies in abuse cases are not credible.
  • Corporal punishment could be ethical, provided that it is proportional.
  • Creative expression and creativity are not the same.
  • Electronic baby timeshare does help to prevent teen pregnancy.
  • English and Spanish should be the only languages in the world.
  • Establishing democracy in Iraq is mission impossible.
  • Fashion gurus have good reasons to promote skinny girls.
  • Female genital mutilation is not unethical when done by cosmetic surgery doctors.
  • Feminism will help improve the position of females in Africa.
  • Fill in a country … should be condemned as human rights violator.
  • Future generations have to keep their jobs until they drop.
  • George Orwell was just right when he wrote his novel ‘1984’ … Big Brother is watching us all the time.
  • Governments should not own news broadcasting corporations.
  • Granting amnesty perpetuates immigration and makes border patrols fruitless.
  • Harry Potter books are more popular among elderly persons.
  • Hollywood movies have a bad influence on the world.
  • Homelessness in rural areas is substantially undercounted compared to metropolitan and suburban areas.
  • Hospitality is a valuable instrument to better foreign relationships.
  • Houses affected by natural disasters should not be rebuilt.
  • International satellite news broadcasting poses a threat to indigenous cultures.
  • It is possible to be pro-life and pro-choice.
  • It’s a myth that bottled water is better than tap water.
  • Journalism codes are no longer respected by journalists.
  • Limiting immigration is limiting opportunities.
  • Link debt relief of developing countries to carbon emission reduction.
  • Local aid to African communities is more effective than national aid.
  • Mentally disabled people cannot be executed.
  • Motivation courses only have one objective: to fund the instructor’s bank account.
  • MP3 music belongs in the free public domain for educational institutions and the general public.
  • News programs must be interesting rather than important.
  • Open source software is better than Microsoft.
  • Parental advisory labels hinder the freedom of speech of artists.
  • People have the right to decide about their own life and death.
  • Political correctness kills freedom of speech.
  • Poverty can be cut by half in this century.
  • Princess Diana’s death was not a tragic accident.
  • Public insults should be considered as hate speech and should not be protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
  • Right to work laws are useless.
  • Robin Hood was a not a hero.
  • Sex and sexuality are from different hemispheres.
  • Telling lies is a justifiable instrument.
  • The local council elections in Cuba are no elections at all.
  • The right to privacy is not absolute.
  • There is no secure protection of property rights in developing countries.
  • There should be cultural content quotas in broadcasting.
  • Tobacco and alcohol billboards litter the streets.
  • United Nations will never truly exist in Europe.
  • Vegetarians would not eat vegetables if they were born in rural Africa.
  • We should have a king instead of a president.
  • Weblogs are intellectual property and therefore must be legally protected.
  • With the current economic situation, we will all be working until we are old and grey.
  • Zero tolerance is a useful instrument to prevent violence.

Here is our list of top interesting informative speech topics.

  • A comparison of the official definition of terrorism in different parts of the world.
  • A week of monastery life.
  • Abu Sayyaf links to global terror organizations.
  • Architectural movements in the late nineteenth century.
  • Armed conflicts in Africa.
  • Artificial intelligence opportunities.
  • Biochemical weapons explained.
  • Bioethics versus human rights.
  • Combatting modern slavery.
  • Debunking weight loss myths.
  • Development goals of the United Nations.
  • Everything we can find in our Solar System.
  • Five ways to give and donate to charity funds.
  • Forms of public diplomacy.
  • Fraud detection systems explained.
  • How giant sea aquariums are constructed.
  • How nepotisms started in the Middle Ages.
  • How the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is structured.
  • How the American Civil War began.
  • How the application for immigration and naturalization works.
  • How the CIA can track terrorists.
  • How to apply Feng Shui to your bedroom.
  • How to outlaw reactionary conservative groups and individuals.
  • Is it possible to clone humans?
  • Major incidents and consequences in the first decade of this millennium.
  • Middle East roadmap for peace.
  • Migration trends.
  • Offshore installation accidents over the years.
  • Racism and cultural diversity in mass media.
  • Refugees and forced displacement.
  • Result on foreign aid funding in the long term.
  • Scientific explanations for the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle.
  • State sponsored tyranny explained.
  • The 9/11 Commission assignment and its main conclusions.
  • The best consumer electronics innovations to date.
  • The chain of cargo and freight services at international airports.
  • The difference between soft and hard drugs.
  • The effect of counter terrorism legislation on ordinary people.
  • The European convention on human rights explained.
  • The flying fortress called Air Force One.
  • The four general goals of the Homeland Security Department.
  • The functions of Samurai warriors in Ancient Japan.
  • The future of fashion.
  • The Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war.
  • The governing system of rules during the Middle Ages.
  • The history of Amtrak.
  • The innovative and unique styling of Dodge trucks.
  • The long term complications of sunburn.
  • The philosophical doctrine of Nihilism.
  • The pros and cons of pacifism.
  • The relations between federal budget deficit, national debt and trade balance.
  • The role of Emperor Akihito in Japan.
  • The secrets of crop circles revealed.
  • The short history of the second man on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin.
  • The struggle to patent computer software.
  • The war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Two party system compared multiple party systems.
  • What is acne and what are its causes.
  • Why the NASA shuttle program was stopped.
  • Why the Romans built huge aqueducts in France.
  • Venezuela and the constitutional power crisis.
  • A diamond exploration certification system will not prevent conflict-diamonds trade.
  • Handwriting analysis and how it reveals aspects of your personality.
  • Hindu Cinema: not just Bollywood movies.
  • How many disasters always happen at Christmas time.
  • How sleepwalkers perform the most unusual things while asleep.
  • Different lifestyles of generations.
  • Importance of sleeping
  • What makes me happy
  • My ideal trip to Asia
  • What would it be like to live with a famous person?
  • If I were a volcano
  • If l could the queen
  • Benefits of being a vegetarian
  • How girls worldwide are treated differently
  • History of Mainamati in Bangladesh
  • Broccoli flavored Oreos
  • The Importance of public speaking
  • A world without boundaries
  • Stars and shooting stars
  • How I came to school for the first time
  • Conspiracy theories
  • The pros and cons of being dead
  • Confusing grammar
  • When my birthday was there
  • Importance of languages
  • How to study effectively
  • If I walked backwards
  • The power of a lie
  • Power of words
  • If I was invisible
  • Why I smile
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fashion trends I hate
  • Why do we have toes?
  • Why I want to be a lawyer (or whatever job u pick)
  • How colours affect your mood

Need a topic for your speech about an interesting persuasion statement?

Here are some of the best speech ideas and two easy informative subjects you can alter into a firm convincing claim.

Need other attracting ideas?

Check the navbar on the left and you will find thousands of special hints and tips for your public presentation 🙂

1. Whistleblower Protection Is Not Effective

  • Whistleblower laws don’t protect against reprisals, disciplinary measures and spin from superiors.
  • Huge companies have enough money to buy legal advice for a long period, laws offer employees no financial shield.
  • Legislation often doesn’t address the issue itself, the problem, the allegations often are not investigated.

Another topic for your speech on business could be on fair trade:

2. Is Fair Trade Really Fair?

  • Protectionism and markets are often stronger than fair trade appointments.
  • Buying products is subsidizing poor farmers and manufacturers in developing countries. It isn’t helping them to make them stronger.
  • It is anti-competitive and it undermines the economy in Third World nations.

And what do you think of this explosive persuasive topic for your speech?

3. Nuclear Power Is Dangerous Stuff

  • An accident could cause thousands of fatalities and for billions of dollars property damage.
  • There is no proper technology to handle radioactive waste material.
  • Health risks for people working in the plant and for those who are living nearby could not be foreseen in advance and certainly not at the long term.
  • Costs of nuclear plant safety measurements are very high.

And now two informative suggestions for a topic for your speech. But you easily transform them into some of the best speech ideas for persuasion speeches:

4. Checklist Before Taking A New Job

  • A bigger company means more interesting job and task opportunities.
  • It makes it possible to extend your existing network of trusted contacts.
  • Like to travel abroad? Is it a Yes or No?
  • How about the probability that you will keep your job – in other words what about the job security? What are the hidden clues?
  • Is there a chance you can make you professional dreams and personal goals come true?
  • How about the pay? Get all salary information, and decide on how much you want to earn from the start.
  • Are there other requirements? Some personal wishes you would like to fulfill?

5. The Advantages Of Working In The Night

  • No disturbing by telephone.
  • No traffic jam.
  • Not being awakened by the alarm clock in early morning hours …

You can think about the disadvantages too … Approach this subject from different sides and you double your opportunities!

89 Medical Speech Topic Ideas [Persuasive, Informative, Nursing]

292 Sports Speech Topics [Persuasive, Informative]

10 thoughts on “259 Interesting Speech Topics [Examples + Outlines]”

Are you in the Now?

Renewable energy pros and cons.

I want to learn the most detailed writing. Am a New student and i need to improve my own My subject is an informative one : Ivorians women teaching in Abidjan universites.

I need more topics to choose from for my oral presentation

Hello, I’d appreciate it if you’d stop perpetuating falseties about global warming and climate change. They are very much real, and putting them on a list like this only further pushes the myth that they are false. These topics are not up for debate.

Some of these are really creative.

#184 made me laugh. As someone who grew up with Harry Potter, perhaps students these days will consider me an older person ha.

Regards, Chris

thaaaank you very much this is help me a lot

Thanks for the ideas!

A lot of these “creative” topics are not only offensive but help push distructive rhetoric.

this helped me out so much.was just sitting there lost about what to speak at the academic decathlon.thanks

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A figure holds their hand near their ear and listens carefully as alphabet letters fly in

Credit: Getty Images

Chatbots tell us what we want to hear

A johns hopkins-led team found that chatbots reinforce our biases, providing insight into how ai could widen the public divide on controversial issues.

By Hannah Robbins

Chatbots share limited information, reinforce ideologies, and, as a result, can lead to more polarized thinking when it comes to controversial issues, according to new Johns Hopkins University–led research.

The study challenges perceptions that chatbots are impartial and provides insight into how using conversational search systems could widen the public divide on hot-button issues and leave people vulnerable to manipulation.

"Because people are reading a summary paragraph generated by AI, they think they're getting unbiased, fact-based answers," said lead author Ziang Xiao , an assistant professor of computer science in the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins who studies human-AI interactions. "Even if a chatbot isn't designed to be biased, its answers reflect the biases or leanings of the person asking the questions. So really, people are getting the answers they want to hear."

Xiao and his team shared their findings at the Association of Computing Machinery's CHI conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems on Monday, May 13.

To see how chatbots influence online searches, the team compared how people interacted with different search systems and how they felt about controversial issues before and after using them.

The researchers asked 272 participants to write out their thoughts about topics including health care, student loans, or sanctuary cities, and then look up more information online about that topic using either a chatbot or a traditional search engine built for the study. After considering the search results, participants wrote a second essay and answered questions about the topic. Researchers also had participants read two opposing articles and questioned them about how much they trusted the information and if they found the viewpoints to be extreme.

Because chatbots offered a narrower range of information than traditional web searches and provided answers that reflected the participants' preexisting attitudes, the participants who used them became more invested in their original ideas and had stronger reactions to information that challenged their views, the researchers found.

"People tend to seek information that aligns with their viewpoints, a behavior that often traps them in an echo chamber of like-minded opinions," Xiao said. "We found that this echo chamber effect is stronger with the chatbots than traditional web searches."

The echo chamber stems, in part, from the way participants interacted with chatbots, Xiao said. Rather than typing in keywords, as people do for traditional search engines, chatbot users tended to type in full questions, such as, What are the benefits of universal health care? or What are the costs of universal health care? A chatbot would answer with a summary that included only benefits or costs.

"With chatbots, people tend to be more expressive and formulate questions in a more conversational way. It's a function of how we speak," Xiao said. "But our language can be used against us."

AI developers can train chatbots to extract clues from questions and identify people's biases, Xiao said. Once a chatbot knows what a person likes or doesn't like, it can tailor its responses to match.

In fact, when the researchers created a chatbot with a hidden agenda, designed to agree with people, the echo chamber effect was even stronger.

To try to counteract the echo chamber effect, researchers trained a chatbot to provide answers that disagreed with participants. People's opinions didn't change, Xiao said. The researchers also programmed a chatbot to link to source information to encourage people to fact-check, but only a few participants did.

"Given AI-based systems are becoming easier to build, there are going to be opportunities for malicious actors to leverage AIs to make a more polarized society," Xiao said. "Creating agents that always present opinions from the other side is the most obvious intervention, but we found they don't work."

Authors include Johns Hopkins graduate student Nikhil Sharma and Microsoft principal researcher Q. Vera Liao.

Posted in Science+Technology

Tagged computer science , artificial intelligence

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Student Life

Hats off to andrew o’brien (mcintire ’25).

As a teenager, O’Brien started a company selling hats to raise money for wounded warriors but that wasn’t near as challenging as public speaking.

Drew O'Brien

Corey Mittenberg

Senior Content Writer

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You could call Andrew “Drew” O’Brien a soon-to-be master communicator. He’s already proven himself to have all the potential to perfect his skills and is on the verge of becoming an expert someday very soon.

As it is, the McIntire Communication faculty who teach in the Comm School’s Integrated Core believe he’s already distinguished himself though his writing, presentation skills, participation, and peer interaction in the classroom and outside of it—so much so that they selected him as one of the 2023-2024 Joseph Miniotas Communication Scholars for what he has achieved with his fellow students in Block 7 and beyond.

Speaking to O’Brien, you would never know just how difficult it was for him to reach the level at which he now excels.

It’s that kind of resilience in the face of a challenge and the willingness to dedicate himself to do whatever it takes to reach his goals that make the Finance concentrator stand out. Those aspects of his personality are also what have seen him through his career at UVA thus far; as a high schooler, they fueled his business sense and the desire to succeed in it—as well as a keen interest in the military that served to spark his first foray into commerce.

But it was his attention to upping his public-speaking game that has proven to be one of the greatest challenges he’s faced and overcome.

His Head Followed His Heart

As a first-year, the West Palm Beach, FL, native was highly engaged by his McIntire prereqs and was drawn equally by the promise of the Commerce program’s coursework and what he saw as the palpable closeness of its tight-knit students. After being accepted to McIntire, he chose to pursue the Real Estate Track , and jumped at the chance to take the pan-UVA Leadership Minor . His choice traces back to a self-starting history fundraising for military causes while still in high school.

“I was always really passionate about the military. I was kind of obsessed with it,” he admits. “I’d watch all these videos on Navy SEAL training and just thought it was so interesting,” O’Brien says, noting that he can’t pinpoint a clear reason for his interest. “I don’t have any connections to the military, but I like the idea of working for something bigger than yourself.” As a teenager who admired the military personnel’s willingness to sacrifice, and as someone who wanted to give back and learn about business, he combined his passions.

“I started a company in high school called Hats off to Veterans, which was an LLC and an e-commerce company. I sold hats online and donated the profit to the Wounded Warrior Project,” he says explaining his business that allowed him to support the charity helping physically and mentally injured American service men and women.

That led him to transition into a fundraising organization, collaborating with the West Palm Beach branch of the national Fisher House Foundation, and taking part in the Hats off to Veterans 24-hour challenge in summer 2020.

“I ran one mile every hour for 24 hours to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. And I made it a bigger event where everyone could participate,” says O’Brien, recalling how donors would sponsor participants for each mile they completed within a daylong window when they would run or walk to contribute as many miles as they were motivated to complete, sending him video proof of their efforts. “The idea behind it was that 24 hours represents that veterans are working 24 hours around the clock while many of us stopped working during COVID because we couldn’t be in the office or [other places]. They’re always working.”

He raised more than $1,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project in one day.

Getting back to how this all ties into O’Brien’s interest in the Leadership Minor, it is the result of mentioning his fundraising efforts to his mentor, UVA English Professor John Casteen. “He said, ‘I know this professor named Jeffrey Lovelace . You should reach out to him.’”

And so, during the spring of O’Brien’s first year, he contacted the McIntire professor.

“We got coffee, and I talked to him about [Hats off to Veterans] because of his background in the military,” he says. “I learned a lot. He told me about the [UVA chapter of] Student Veterans of America and the things they do on Grounds. Then he told me about the Leadership Minor, which I wasn’t aware of.”

That conversation easily persuaded O’Brien to sign up for Lovelace’s class in the spring of his second year. He loved it and was spurred on to declare for the Leadership Minor.

He Worked for the Gift of Gab

A large part of being an effective leader comes from communicating, a skill in which O’Brien excels, as recognized by McIntire faculty with the Miniotas award. A pretty surprising turn of events for someone whose anxiety would go through the roof when met with the prospect of speaking in front of strangers.

How did the change happen?

His motivation to become a better public speaker came from a deep-seated appreciation for people who know how to work a room. “I always knew public speaking was a great quality to have. And I’ve always admired the people who seem to go up there and be able to persuade you on anything,” he says, pointing out that his original issues came to a head when he had to give a speech in his Communication class. “I remember my heart was just beating in my chest. I was freaking out. I ended up doing well, but knew it was something I had to work on.”

He chose to take Professor Robert Patterson ’s Public Speaking class, with the belief that it would help him in the long run. His hunch was right. It made an outsized impact on his ability to get better at speaking in front of others.

“The first week, I was on the waitlist, so I missed the first class. [Professor Patterson] told me, ‘You’re going to have to talk for a minute in front of the class on your first day, and I’m not going to tell you what the topic is until one minute before,’” he recalls. “I thought, ‘Okay, that sounds horrible,’ so I was really nervous.” O’Brien remembers being put on the spot to give impromptu speeches on random topics, without any frame of reference, like the color orange.

He credits Patterson for getting him out of his comfort zone and mentions that the McIntire professor always pushed him to ensure his topic was relevant to everyone listening. “He made me really comfortable speaking in any setting, not just pitching in a business setting.”

Now, as he prepares for his summer internship as an Investment Banking Analyst at Solomon Partners in New York, he feels prepared for whatever may come his way in that new role.

He credits his Corporate Finance Professor David C. Smith and Associate Dean of Career & Corporate Engagement Tom Fitch with being “absurdly helpful” with his interview process, taking time to speak with him at off hours while he faced dilemmas about scheduling and other issues. “It just shows how much the faculty and staff really care and are committed to their students,” O’Brien says.

And during the internship itself, he’s sure that Patterson’s courses will prove to be worth all the energy he put into them, with crisis communication exercises and routine spontaneous speech-giving experience preparing him to tackle on-the-job emergencies and presentations in stride.

“Now, I don’t just stand there in one place and hold my hands together,” O’Brien says. “I’m comfortable looking people in the eyes now.”

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Justices Speak, and Are Greeted With Dissent

More from our inbox:, ‘all oppression is not alike’, republican hypocrisy on antisemitism.

Justice Clarence Thomas in a suit jacket and open-collar light blue shirt.

To the Editor:

Re “ In Rare Remarks, Thomas Denounces Public Scrutiny Facing His Family ” (news article, May 12):

At a recent judicial conference, Justice Clarence Thomas complained bitterly about “the nastiness and the lies” about him and his wife, Ginni, in the last few years.

And yet, these are the facts: He accepted lavish gifts from powerful friends and failed to report them. His wife was indisputably involved in an attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the duly elected new one. But somehow to report these facts, and to criticize the Thomases for their behavior, is nasty and “hideous.”

He discussed his goal of making the court more representative of the country by hiring law clerks from non-Ivy League schools. Perfectly reasonable. Indeed, that concept has another name: diversity, equity and inclusion. Which Justice Thomas plainly detests when applied to minorities , because (I guess) he believes that it belittles the accomplishments of those who receive a helping hand.

I’ve doubted Justice Thomas’s judgment in the past; now I doubt his advocacy skills in general. Because his arguments are self-pitying and unpersuasive.

Stephen J. Bubul Minneapolis

Justice Clarence Thomas’s comment about the nastiness and lies he and his wife have faced really corroborates a bias he has demonstrated as a justice in favor of right-wing positions.

He has always been bitter about the way that Democrats conducted his confirmation hearings, and I feel certain he holds them solely responsible for “the nastiness and the lies” he’s complaining about now.

He has shown that he is human by secretly availing himself of luxuries offered to him by very wealthy people. As a justice I think he has revealed another very human instinct: revenge.

He has done nothing to evidence a balanced view of the Constitution as the passage of time has affected societal norms and needs. Rather, he has steadfastly shown those Democrats a thing or two about how justice is dispensed at the Supreme Court.

Peter Alkalay Scarsdale, N.Y.

Re “ Justice Offers a Historical View of the Court ” (news article, May 11):

In his remarks at a judicial conference in Austin, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh noted that with the passage of time many of the court’s initially controversial and unpopular decisions have come to be seen more favorably and sometimes even as inevitable. He cites, among others, Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 school desegregation case, and the requirement of Miranda warnings, almost certainly to tacitly provide cover for the Dobbs v. Jackson decision.

Of course, one crucial difference between the examples presented by Justice Kavanaugh and Dobbs is that almost all of the former instituted or protected the rights of a certain group whereas the latter has removed a right that had become deeply ingrained and steadily more popular.

The American people will eventually accept and even embrace decisions that align with their collective moral compass. The consistent success of recent pro-choice ballot initiatives in even deeply conservative states is strong evidence that, in the case of Dobbs, the court headed in the wrong direction.

Jason Ungar Darien, Conn.

Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who is fond of using sports analogies to explain judicial matters, insists that oral arguments are no predictors of how the justices will actually vote — “it’s like picking who is going to win the game in the fourth inning.” He called Chief Justice John Roberts’s dictum that judges are like umpires “four of the most famous words ever uttered.”

He said that Americans today will come to accept recent Supreme Court decisions because they have accepted “wildly unpopular” ones in the past. I offer up some additional sports analogies for him to consider in our post-Roe world:

Women in the upcoming elections are ready to take off their gloves and fight hard in defense of abortion rights. We will keep our eye on the ball — the right to control our bodies — and come out swinging. It won’t be a slam dunk, but as some recent state elections have shown, we are heavy hitters. Our votes matter and we will fight down to the wire.

(This coming from a person averse to almost all sports, and everyone’s last pick for high school and college sports teams.)

Cathy Bernard New York

Re “ Alito Warns of Threats to Freedom of Speech and Religion ” (news article, May 12):

At the commencement of a Catholic university, Justice Samuel Alito is quoted as saying about freedom of religion: “When you venture out into the world, you may well find yourself in a job or a community or a social setting when you will be pressured to endorse ideas you don’t believe or to abandon core beliefs. It will be up to you to stand firm.”

It seems incredible that Justice Alito does not seem to understand that no one is asking that someone else’s core beliefs be abandoned. What is being asked is that Justice Alito and the court protect core beliefs that he and others may not share.

I, personally, feel very unprotected by this court, especially when it comes to my religious beliefs.

Joseph Connolly Brunswick, Maine The writer is a retired pastor.

Re “ What a ‘Free Palestine’ Actually Means ,” by Bret Stephens (column, May 15):

Mr. Stephens is right to observe that “Queers for Palestine” is a concept that can exist in a free society like ours and not in Gaza. Student protesters tend to conflate all forms of oppression, and to imagine that easy solutions like “Free Palestine” are readily available.

In reality, all oppression is not alike. Different groups — Black people, women and gay people, for example, and, of course, Jews — have been suppressed and abused in different ways at different times by different people. And each group has traveled its own unique path in its ongoing efforts to achieve liberty and security.

Moreover, all misfortune and misery are not oppression. As Mr. Stephens recounts, the Palestinians are certainly subjected to harsh treatment by Israel, but this is part of a century-long quagmire of mutual hostility. Palestinian leaders have repeatedly rejected political solutions and forgone opportunities to build a civil society. Gaza has as many characteristics of a failed state as it has of an oppressed people.

Protesters’ moral impulses are very honorable; their rhetoric and demands have unfortunately been ignorant and simplistic.

Ron Meyers New York

Re “ The Antisemitic Tropes Echoed by Republicans ” (front page, May 12):

Thank you for pointing out the hypocrisy of congressional Republicans who are using their feigned outrage at antisemitism on campus to score political points. Where were these Republicans during the white supremacists’ march in Charlottesville in 2017 and chants of “Jews will not replace us,” and other more subtle but no less despicable attacks on Jews in recent years?

I have been disgusted by Republicans’ cynical attacks on college leaders (really attacks on elite institutions) for not doing enough to address antisemitism on campus.

The high (or low) point of their so-called outrage was when Speaker Mike Johnson and fellow Republicans traveled to Columbia University to decry antisemitism. It did nothing but fan the flames of an already tense situation, in keeping with the Republican playbook: Increase fear and division for political advantage.

Marci Greenstein Bethesda, Md.

Kansas City Chiefs player faces backlash for graduation speech criticizing working women, calling Pride a 'deadly sin'

Harrison Butker delivered the commencement address at Benedictine College.

The kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs is facing backlash after delivering a commencement address that touched on everything from Pride Month to women's roles in the home, abortion and birth control.

"It is safe to say that over the years, I have gained quite the reputation for speaking my mind," Harrison Butker said at the start of his address, which he delivered May 11 at Benedictine College, a Catholic liberal arts college in Atchison, Kansas.

Butker, who has sparked controversy in the past for his public stances on religion, LGBTQ topics and abortion, criticized President Joe Biden for his stance as a Catholic who supports abortion rights before turning to speak directly to the women in the graduating class, saying they had been told "the most diabolical lies."

PHOTO: Harrison Butker speaks to the 2024 graduates of Benedictine College, May 11, 2024, in Atchison, Kan.

"Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world," Butker, 28, said. "I can tell you that my beautiful wife Isabelle would be the first to say that her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and a mother."

Butker and his wife share two young children. Isabelle Butker has spoken publicly about converting to Catholicism before the couple's 2018 marriage.

"I'm on this stage today and able to be the man I am because I have a wife who leans into her vocation," Butker continued. "I am beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class, back in middle school, would convert to the faith, become my wife and embrace one of the most important titles of all, homemaker."

PHOTO: Harrison Butker, center, celebrates with his wife Isabelle and son James after defeating the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium, Jan. 19, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo.

Butker added, "I've seen firsthand how much happier someone can be when they disregard the outside noise and move closer and closer to God's will for life. Isabelle's dream of having a career might not have come true, but if you ask her today if she has any regrets on her decision, she would laugh out loud without hesitation and say no."

Parents of LBGTQ+ kids share joy of parenting in their own words

The football player also said men should step up for families, saying, "This absence of men in the home is what plays a large role in the violence we see all around the nation."

"Be unapologetic in your masculinity, fighting against the culture of the emasculation of men," he said, adding that men "set the tone of the culture."

"Do hard things," he added. "Never settle for what is easy."

PHOTO: Harrison Butker, right, celebrates with his children after kicking the go ahead field goal to beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium, Feb. 12, 2023, in Glendale, Ariz.

Elsewhere in his 20-minute speech, Butker described Pride month, which typically falls in June and is dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, as a "deadly sin."

He also referenced popstar Taylor Swift , who is dating his teammate Travis Kelce , by citing some of the lyrics from her song "Bejeweled."

"Tragically, so many priests revolve much of their happiness from the adulation they receive from their parishioners," he said. "And in searching for this, they let their guard down and become overly familiar. This undue familiarity will prove to be problematic every time, because as my teammate's girlfriend says, familiarity breeds contempt."

PHOTO: Harrison Butker of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up before the game against the Philadelphia Eagles prior to Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium, Feb. 12, 2023, in Glendale, Ariz.

Butker declined to comment.

Justice Horn, a former Kansas City commissioner, spoke out in the wake of Butker's comments over the weekend, writing on X , "Harrison Butker doesn't represent Kansas City nor has he ever. Kansas City has always been a place that welcomes, affirms, and embraces our LGBTQ+ community members."

Taylor Swift wears Kansas City Chiefs colors during European Eras tour

Outsports, a media platform that covers the LGBTQ+ community, commented on the fact that Butker included a reference to Swift in his speech, writing on X , "One of the worst parts of this NFL player's awful speech is that he quoted a Taylor Swift song before telling women they should be homemakers and serve their man's career."

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Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, an LGBTQ+ organization, also responded to Butker's speech, calling it "inaccurate, ill-informed, and woefully out of step with Americans about Pride, LGBTQ people and women."

"Those with expansive platforms, especially athletes, should use their voices to uplift and expand understanding and acceptance in the world," Ellis said in a statement. "Instead, Butker's remarks undermine experiences not of his own and reveal him to be one who goes against his own team’s commitment to the Kansas City community, and the NFL's standards for respect, inclusion, and diversity across the League.”

Benedictine College, which has around 2,100 undergraduate students, has disabled comments on a YouTube video of Butker's speech.

The college did not respond to ABC News' request for comment on Butker's commencement address.

The NFL told ABC News the organization is "steadfast" in its "commitment to inclusion."

“Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity. His views are not those of the NFL as an organization," Jonathan Beane, the league's chief diversity and inclusion officer, told ABC News in a statement. "The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger.”

The Kansas City Chiefs did not reply to ABC News' request for comment.

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