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COMM 109 - Speech Communication - Snider: Find a Topic

A guide for students in Prof. Snider's COMM 109 class gather resources for their persuasive speech.

Find a Topic

You will be preparing a persuasive speech and taking a stand on an issue. Your topic will be some sort of claim which people can have different opinions on. In your speech you will argue your side of the issue. You will use authoritative resources to support your point of view and persuade your listeners to agree with you.

You will need a research topic that is not too broad. You can start with a broad topic and narrow it down by thinking of some of the issues associated with it. Then turn your broad topic and issue into a debatable argument.

e.g. Sports:

Levels of sports: Professional Sports, Olympic Sports, College Sports, H.S. Sports;

Specific sports: Football, Baseball, Curling, Horseracing etc.

Issues: Betting, Drugs and Doping, Sponsorships, Health and Injuries etc

Level of Sport + Specific Sport + Issue = Topic

Potential topics:

Should college athletes should get paid?

Is the NFL is doing enough to protect players long term health?

Would betting on college sports help the economy?

Are Native American themed teams and mascots racially insensitive?


Types of Persuasive Speeches:

Fact: Hybrid/Electric cars pollute less than fossil fuel vehicles.

Value: Hybrid/Electric cars are better for the environment than cars that run on fossil fuels.

Policy: The government should encourage the purchase of Hybrid/Electric vehicles by offering rebates.


Research Questions

1. Start simply. You may not know a lot about your topic, so it is okay to start by asking a few basic questions to launch the research process.

What is factory farming?

How common is factory farming?

What are the negative effects of factory farming?

 2. Do some background research. Look up your topic in reference books, CQ Researcher, and Opposing Viewpoints. Getting some basic background information on your topic may help you decide what you want to focus on in your paper. Background research also helps you identify search terms. The information you find in background sources may answer some of those initial questions, as well as give you ideas on how to expand your list.

3. Brainstorm more questions. Using what you learned from your initial background research, come up with some more questions. Think of both defining questions and analytical questions.

Examples of Defining Questions:

What is _________________?

 Why is ____________ an important issue?

What is the history of ______________?

What are the different types of ____________?

Examples of Analytical Questions:

 What are the causes of ________________?

What are the effects of ________________?

What are the “pro” arguments about_______________?

What are the “con” arguments about ______________?

What should be done about ______________?

4. Organize your questions into a logical progression. Your research questions serve a dual purpose. Not only do they guide your research, but they can also be used to outline the “flow” of your paper. Begin by defining your topic and providing background information, and then delve into the analysis.

What is factory farming?

Why is factory farming a controversial issue?

What is the history of this issue?

What are the benefits of this type of farming?

What are the negative effects of this type of farming?

5. Make your final question one of self-discovery. Your instructors don’t want you to merely report on your topic; they want you to spend time reflecting on your research and coming to your own conclusions. It is essential to let them know you’ve done this critical thinking about your issue.

Based on my research, what do I ultimately think about the issue of factory farming? Why?

6. Brainstorm Key Search Terms. Your research questions are also a great place to begin choosing key words to use in your searches. The success of your search depends largely on using the right words.


Questions from Modesto Junior College Library

Include an Informative Visual

Your presentation needs to include at least one informative visual. The visual should be cited in MLA format underneath the image on your slide. See the tab for Citing and Plagiarism for examples and more information.

Basic format:

Lastname, Firstname. "Title." Website name, day month year of publication, ULR (minus http://). Accessed day month year.

Source: "Would you favor or oppose an increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 and hour to $15 an hour? [Q.58]." Pew Research Center, 16 Aug. 2016, Accessed 10 Nov. 2016.



Source: "Fist Full of Money." All Free Download, n.d., Accessed 31 March 2017.