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Controversial speech topics

Choosing a good argumentative speech topic

Before you start going through the lists of controversial speech topics, let's do a little background research so you understand what this type of speech is about. It will make choosing your topic much easier and give you better results.

The key word is controversial. It has a similar meaning to argumentative.

comes from the word controversy meaning:

Controversial speech topics - right/wrong button
  1. a prolonged public dispute, debate, or contention; disputation concerning a matter of opinion.
  2. contention, strife, or argument.

Synonyms are:

  1. disagreement, altercation.
  2. quarrel, wrangle.

lick for a full dictionary definition.

Therefore controversial speech topics or argumentative speech topics are those evoking strong opinions often splitting families, communities and countries.

Both sides of the debate are generally convinced they are right and their opposition is wrong.

Historical controversial speech topics

History gives us examples of topics that once caused major strife. Now with the benefit of hindsight, we may wonder what the fuss was about. Opinions have changed. What was once dangerously unthinkable has become commonplace, unremarkable and acceptable.

That the earth is round and not flat, doesn't raise more than eyebrow now but it previously exercised the greatest of minds. The same goes for giving women the vote (in Western countries), and the abolition of slavery.

Modern controversial topics

Like their historical forerunners, these argumentative speech topics reflect the current political and social issues impacting on, and shaping people's  lives.

They can be broad, affecting everybody in the world, for example the global warming controversy, or narrow, concerning comparatively fewer people. Apt examples of the latter are the issues around school bullying or gun control.

Regardless of their reach, the subjects draw impassioned opinion. 

Who is right?

Who is wrong?

And is there a middle ground or compromise acceptable to both?

Those handy urls to comprehensive lists of controversial speech topics are below but before you race off to click and choose, slow down and read some more.

If you want this speech to be the best it can be and what comes next can make or break it.

Who is your audience?

A good speaker always considers his audience and shapes the speech to meet their needs, even if it is controversial!

Think about:

  • Who are the people making up your audience?
    Are they young? Are they older? Are they predominately male, female or mixed?
  • What common themes, attitudes, values and beliefs unite them?
  • What cultural or social background do they have?
  • What topic would be appropriate or fitting for both the audience and the occasion?
  • What do they expect from you as a speaker?

What is the purpose of your speech?

  • Do you want to shock?
  • Do you want to inform?
  • Do you want to persuade?
  • Is it a mixture of all, or some, of the above?
  • What do you want the audience to do as a result of having listened to your speech?

Research & presentation

An effective controversial or argumentative speech is well researched. This provides a rational, rather than purely emotive, base.

For example:

"I don't like XXX."
 is not an argument.

But "I don't like XXX for the following three reasons ..." is the beginning of one.

If you want to challenge or change opinion you will research:

  • the background history of your topic
  • both sides of the argument - the for and against

You will present:

  • factual and if possible, demonstrable evidence
  • examples
  • unbiased statistics
  • and do so in a way that meets the audience while fulfilling your speech purpose.

And lastly

... choose a subject that genuinely interests you. That way your enthusiasm will carry you through the preparation and delivery.

Lists of controversial speech topics

These three sites offer lists of argumentative speech topics. The first two, (Questia and ThoughtCo),  also have useful links to related resources.

Go well choosing your topic.

Should you need it there is comprehensive on-site help for every aspect of preparing, rehearsing and delivering your speech.
You'll find it all in the site map.