Selecting a topic

When you select a topic for a speech, you need to consider the ways you can find topics. Of course, you need to begin with the most basic of basics:

  1. The Assignment. Consider the assignment for a given speech; maybe your instructor has a very specific goal in mind, as we do typically in the Introduction to Oral Communication class. Of course, outside of the course, you may have to ask a few probing questions to help you better determine a speech topic.
  2. The Situation. Think about what the expectations of a speech situation might be. If you are to present an award, that may guide your speech choice. If you are explaining how to accomplish a goal, that would be very different. Find something that meets the need of the situation.
  3. The Audience. Whenever possible, you MUST consider the audience, and it may be helpful to try to learn something about them before you get started selecting a topic. Ask about the group’s qualities. This may narrow your initial ideas to something more specific.
  4. The Environment. If you have an idea of the space in which you’ll be presenting, that may also alter your choices. You may need something that is simpler for a large audience in an auditorium, or you could be more detailed for a smaller group. The environment plays a major role.

Watch the following video from Toastmasters, a group who specializes in public speaking skills development, to learn more about selecting a speech topic.

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