Hurrah for looking for a wider topic beyond the 'done to death' ideas! My students have had more success with topics which they care about and which immediately affect them: should we relocate cities prone to earthquakes? (we are in NZ); Are we really a bicultural nation?; Does overfishing have an effect on our local economy? These more local topics made research a more personal rather than computer-driven exercise and the speeches were more impassioned as a result.
While I like post #5, especially for creativity and interest, I will say that it would be very difficult to research in the way that most high school research papers require.
I also agree that educational topics are immediately relevant. I am personally interested in health and psychological topics, especially behavioral psychology. This is a highly researched and written about area (therefore easy to find sources) but still very controversial and arguable on many levels. You could simply look at the field of parental discipline techniques and find more than enough material to fill a research paper. Some specifics include: to spank or not to spank? Co-sleeping, and is it healthy for everyone? Attachment parenting: is there such a thing as "too much love and attention."
I think another very relevant topic is obesity in America. You could focus such an essay to include only a specific group of people (race, socio-economics, age, education, etc.)
I agree with the previous posters about picking something that makes you impassioned. You could do something with new types of energy or conservation of energy. I have heard some great speeches about building a windmill on school grounds to improve the efficiency of a building that requires a lot of electricity.
You could focus on media related topics like media's priorities either with news information or regarding celebrities. I have also seen some on anorexia and bulimia and the media's influence. Or the media's influence in relationship to violence and sexual assaults.
I love the idea bullgatortail has about the interference in Libya. I bet you could find some amazing ideas around that. Does your school subscribe to the "opposing viewpoints" databases? They have a lot of great articles which could inspire your topic too.
It sounds like your teacher wants a few new choices to read about. Capital punishment might be a good one, or the legalization of marijuana, or something concerning alcoholic beverages. How about a national topic such as U. S. interference in Libya, or our continued presence in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Yes, it is definitely worth striving for uniqueness on this topic! I would recommend reading newspapers or journals and watching the news to get a sense of what issues are in the public gaze at the moment and use one of these to base your speech around. Looking at current media as a source of ideas and issues will avoid issues that have well past their sell by date. Pick a story that appeals to you and that you yourself have strong feelings about. That will ensure your own interest, which will convey easily to your audience.
An excellent question, and I am glad you are looking for a topic that hasn't been done to death. Having taught high school speech for the past 10 years, I can tell you the topics you've posted above have indeed been overdone.
I agree with much of what the previous posters have said. Choosing a topic that affects you and your peers is a good audience analysis technique. Some of the topic ideas that some of my students have chosen that have been fresh but relevant to the other students in class are: Semester testing, Open campus lunch, warning labels on music, steroid use in high school athletes, the unhealthy nature of school lunch, that evolution is just a theory, that the driving age should be increased (we can drive at 14 in our state).
But what I have my students do rather than ask me what a good topic would be is to simply google: persuasive speech topics. Usually the first or second hit includes pages of unique and different speech ideas.
I think an innovative approach to this type of "everything's been done" kind of task is to focus on social norms. Think about something that people do every single day without thinking about it; then, argue against it OR argue that it needs more recognition. For instance, should people change their standard response to "How are you?" from "Good" to a more honest, descriptive answer? Is holding the door for others a "must do"? Is it possible that our society is reinforcing a harmful vision of what it means to be male or female? Should people question the need to wear "mainstream" clothing? (Or, on that note, is Lady Gaga a positive or negative influence on youth culture?) Deconstructing/questioning social norms allows you to think outside the box and find a unique topic! Just don't forget to create a logical arguments that is supported by reliable sources, and you'll have a great result!
What about other things that affect people your age? Mandatory school uniforms are controversial in some areas. Adoption right of gay and lesbian parents. The state of social security. All of these would be arguable, and they would be suitable for persuasive speaking.
Great speeches come from topics that are important to you or affect you personally. Is there a local issue in your school or community that has some potential impact on you and your classmates? Perhaps there is a policy that needs to be changed? Consider things like how grade point averages are weighted or not; whether physical education should be required; what kinds of foods are offered in the student cafeteria; how your school could raise additional funds and how those monies could be used ie. advertising local businesses around the scoreboards at games; whether a school uniform would have a positive impact on the atmosphere in the classroom. There are lots of possibilities!
One thing that might be of interest to high school students might be how to improve education or perhaps how to evaluate which teachers should get higher pay and which should get lower pay or eventually get fired.
I would think that this would be a good topic because it is something that you should be able to have your own ideas about. It is something that you live with every day, yet it is also something that is a matter of importance in terms of public policy. There are some ideas about how to "grade" teachers in today's New York Times (link below). There are many essays about reforming education at the eNotes link below.
I think this would be a great topic because it would be of interest to you and to many of your classmates and so it might be easier to talk about than some things.
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I had a friend who did a texting while driving speech. I do not know if you are a fan of Oprah but my friend used Oprah's episode and campaign on the matter as motivation. It is a great way to give a speech because at the end they can sign a pledge to no longer text and drive and be part of a worldwide campaign.
The topic you gave are definately over used. What are the topics on the news that may impact you as you approach the adult world? I like the new energy ideas. However, with the huge amounts of money in the oil business, it may be difficult to find non-biased information. How has Brazil gone oil free?
Another topic might be about teenage curfews.
What about teacher pay for student performance on "High Stakes" testing? (FL)