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If this is a persuasive speech, any of the hot-button political issues would probably do the trick:
-- Gay Marriage: Right or Wrong?
-- Gun Control: Good or Bad?
-- The Death Penalty: Use it or not?
Any topic that may generate debate or conversation is likely to do the trick. Use your imagination.
I always love speeches on political scandal. You would have plenty of ammunition right now. You can talk about the Governor of Illinois trying to sell Obama's Senate seat. Or you can fall back on Thurman or Bird or Spitzer. Then there is Ted Steven's bridge to nowhere. It can be a commentary on the abuse of political power.
I agree with engtchr5 insofar as controversy makes a great speech, but be careful not to pick anything trite: Abortion, Evolution. Also, if you pick a topic like the death penalty or gay marriage, make sure you have something unique to say. Those topics can be overdone and people lose interest. If you stand up and give the day's twelfth speech on abortion, you better have something great to say, or your speech will be ignored and immediately forgotten. It is best to go with something that your audience doesn't already know a lot about.
To be an effective speaker you must be interested in what you are about to discuss, well-informed, and engaged in the topic. Think about what you really love and know something about. Take some time to further investigate this subject, do your research, and teach your audience something. Remember you are taking their time, so make it worthwhile.
Good speeches have plenty of specific examples and details. They move logically from point to point. The speaker uses transitions between his or her ideas so that the audience can follow what is being said. The delivery is animated. The speaker uses his/her voice effectively, making it louder, softer, faster, or slower for emphasis.
You can speak about almost anything effectively if you are interested in the topic and work hard to make that topic equally accessible and interesting to your audience.
For additional tips on giving a speech, check out this video:
Another possibility for a speech is to allow the students to prepare a speech about something which affects them personally. My daughter did a speech in high school which was about her brother who had Tourette's Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Attention Deficit Disorder. She explained what these were, how they affected him, and how, even though he was smarter that she was, he would never be able to have the same kind of academic success, which made her sad. Then she talked about how his problems affected her, such as not bringing home friends because he often was on the floor unable to speak or move, not telling anyone he was her brother because of the skepticism about his behavior, and not being able to study sometimes because of his problems. No one in the class knew anything about these problems or that the difficult person in the building was her brother. She answered many questions and it freed her from the burden of not saying anything to anyone except her best friend. Many students deal with issues which we, as teachers, don't know about. This opportunity might allow them to speak up, talk about similar issues' effects on families or themselves, and bring knowledge to other students.
Some of the most fun my students have had with speeches is when they do something completely off-the-wall. I have had kids do an expository speech on the proper technique to vandalize a yard through T.P.-ing and forking; I had an honors kid who was very prim and proper do an introduction speech introducing me as the champion chocolate pudding pole vaulter. Other kids have done very passionate persuasive speeches on hot-button items like one of my colleagues suggested, but as another addressed: be sure that it isn't total heat like abortion or the like, and if you are going to do something like gay marriage, don't repeat what has already been said many times over.
The key to a "fun topic" for a speech is to figure out what you like, what you think is funny, and what you think is important and go from there. That is how your topic will be fun for both you and your audience.
What about the responsibility of the individual as a topic? Current events point to the devastating repercussions of irresponsibility in our society: the debacle of the housing loans, the selfishness of executives of companies who gave themselves bonuses when their companies were failing, the unreasonable demands of the automobile unions driving the makers into financial peril, the plethora of litigation as people bring lawsuits upon companies and other individuals in efforts to blame someone for their shortcomings, errors, mishaps, etc.
Find articles in news magazines such as Time, Newsweek, or U.S. News and World Report. Online major newspapers are excellent as well: The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Atlanta Constitution, etc. (In these you can find some good news stories to use as examples.)
If a speech has a five-minute time limit, I believe that there are only two ways to approach it. You must 'grab' your audience with controversy or 'persuade' their curiousity with the beginnings of a good old-fashioned story that holds within it age-old truths that humanity at times rejects and at others embraces, like the ebb and flow of the ocean. Controversial subjects such as religion, war, abortion, or the death penalty will always cause a stir. People react to controversy simply because it cuts to the quick, and in our society we are free to disagree. As for the good old-fashioned stories, they too can be powerful—for example, the belief in the possibility that humanity has the capacity to sustain hope, and that life is better than the alternative, can have a tremendous impact on an audience. Although controversy usually has more punch or power than a story, it should never be interpreted as the weaker of the two. Generally speaking, people find comfort in the 'constant' of human potential, even those who seem to have a problem with just about everything. There is something to be valued from both perspectives. Each has the capacity to spark a great speech because each can tap the core of the human experience.
I think it can be fun to do a speech where you somewhat incite the audience in a tongue-in-cheek way. For example, you could advocate overthrowing a government, or taking over another country, etc. You could also highlight a significant issue in an interesting way, like Jonathan Swift did in "A Modest Proposal."
As an example, maybe you could illustrate the immigration issue by rallying against Canadian immigrants instead of those from Mexico, or you could advocate sending kids to prison every time they cheat on a test, or something like that.
1. Someone that inspires you.
2. A problem that you'd like to solve and how you'd solve it.
3. Something that has sentimental value to you (a trip to meet your extended family in another country, a favorite blanket).
4. Something that always makes you laugh.
What are you most interested in?
What are you curious about? What do you wish you knew more about? The life cycle of Monarch butterflies, the origin/evolution of modern holidays, and how to make your own fresh, ground coffee could all make interesting discussions.
What are your passions?
Often people are extremely engaging when they discuss things they are passionate about. How to live/eat healthier, how to train for a marathon, and ways to improve your writing are examples of passions/hobbies people have that you could turn into a speech.
What is an unusual or interesting process you could describe?
How a Rolls Royce is made from start to finish, the steps involved in building the Eiffel Tower, and how the U.S. Constitution came about are all processes that would be detailed and interesting to discuss.
Find something you love, want to know about, or that you find interesting. Describe/discuss it in a fresh, new way. Entertain your audience, and enjoy yourself!
- Should we be happy with what we have?
- What is intelligence?
- What is the self?
- Are humans animals?
- Are humans more intelligent than other animals?
origin of species, starting from the fundamentals
Oooh, how about 'How chocolate is good for us'? :)
Many different topics:
- Should smoking be banned?
- Are footballers payed too much?
- Should guns be banned in America?
- Should the death penalty exist?
- Are boys better at sport than girls?/Are girls more intelligent than boys?
- Should military service be obligatory?
- Should drugs become legal?
- Gay marriage
- How social networks are bad/good
- Should sport be obligatory at school?
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