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Persuasive speech ideas

100 good persuasive speech topics

By: Susan Dugdale | Updated: 08-09-2019 | First published: 05-01-2010

Persuasive speech ideas are everywhere - billions of them! But how do you choose the right one?

My goal is to help you do that with ease. You'll find notes as well as topic suggestions here. Reading the notes before trying to decide what you'll talk about will make the process of choosing a topic simpler.   

How to pick the best topic

The trick to picking the best topic from that bewildering, seething mass of possibilities begins with understanding what makes a speech topic idea 'good'.

What makes a speech topic good?

While there are many factors that combine to make a 'good' speech topic, the three main ones are:

  1. something you are genuinely interested in.
    If you're enthusiastic about your subject you'll enjoy doing the research required and you'll do it thoroughly. What's more, your interest will show in the way you give your speech. A passionate person is a great deal more persuasive than someone who is ambivalent about what they're talking about.
  2. something your audience will be interested in hearing about.
    Before you make a final choice consider carefully who you are talking to. As a group what subjects or issues will make them want to sit up and listen? You'll want to avoid topics that have limited or little appeal to your audience.

    For example, you may be fascinated by your Great-Grandmother's hand-made crochet lace doily collection but will your audience really share your opinion that everyone would benefit from learning to crochet? 

    Find out more about the benefits of audience analysis in effective persuasive speech preparation.
  3. something that has not been covered a 'squillion' times already.
    You want a fresh topic!
Image: girl smoking. Text: 100 Excellent Persuasive Speech Ideas that do not include smoking, raising or lowering the age for drinking, driving or voting. Because being boring is unnecessary.

Beware! Some persuasive speech topics are tired

All the engaging 'wow, that's interesting'  energy has been extracted from them because they have been done over and over again.  Those topics are exhausted through over use.  People do not want to listen to another speech on topics like:

  • smoking should be banned,
  • the legal drinking age should be raised to 21, or
  • the voting age should be lowered. 

Even if the issues they raise are unresolved choose something else rather than risk boring your audience.

Of course there are exceptions! 
If you have a genuinely fresh and interesting angle to bring, perhaps new information or research to share, then go ahead.  However make that clear from the outset, otherwise you'll risk losing your audience's interest before you've had a chance to get your speech underway. 


Remember - local and topical is GOOD

Before settling on a persuasive speech topic from my list check what's going on right under your nose. 

Great persuasive speech ideas can pop out of your local community newspaper,  radio, TV, or even your FaceBook page. These could really interest your audience. 

After all it's where you all live and the issues in your community have an impact on everyone's well being.

The 'Wellywood' sign saga

I just quickly flicked through a copy of the local community news I picked up at my supermarket.

There were articles on a huge sign Wellington airport is considering placing on a  prominent hill alongside the runway. It will read "Wellywood".

Image -The hill above Miramar Wharf, Wellington, NZ with a sign saying Wellywood.

Airport authorities say it supports our thriving film industry, celebrating and building on the success of "The Lord of the Rings".

Those against it argue it's cheap copy-catting of the famous Hollywood sign and that the thousands of overseas visitors per day who see it will snort with derisive laughter.

There's two potential persuasive speech ideas: for and against the sign.

Another piece was on the mixed success of a newly introduced recycling scheme.

Yet another was on depression alongside the story of a young man who suffered from it. What angles could be taken on either of those?


How to use this list of speech topic suggestions

Note down 3 possibilities as you go through the list of speech topics below.

As you read apply the three 'tests' for selecting a good persuasive speech topic I've already mentioned: your interest in the topic, its appeal to your audience  and its freshness.

In addition to those there are a few other factors to bear in mind before committing yourself. 

Other factors to consider

Any of these could also influence your choice.

  • the time you have to research the topic thoroughly
    If it's a complex topic and you have limited time to prepare you may want to reconsider.
  • your desired outcome
    A persuasive speech persuades. If it is successful it challenges and changes the way people think, feel and behave.
    What do you want your audience to do as a result of hearing you speak?
    Sign a petition, make a donation, vote for you, volunteer ...?
    What you want to happen is often called a 'most wanted response' or MWR.
    Being clear about that will help you choose your topic as well as shape your speech.
  • your credibility
    How qualified are you to speak on the topic you've chosen?
    Do you have personal experience on your side? 
    How long have you been interested in it? 
    Have you done your research? Have you found reliable resources covering all angles of your topic?

100 persuasive speech ideas

Image:- street art- two girls writing on wall - 'Please no more war. Love.' Text: 100 persuasive speech ideas - Graffiti is a justifiable form of social protest.

Animals/birds ...

  • Factory farming of animals (eg of cows, sheep, pigs or chickens) is inhumane.
  • Humane meat production is an oxymoron.
  • Should rats, mice and birds be used in scientific experimentation?
  • Pit-bull dogs are dangerous.
  • Puppy mills should be illegal.
  • The domestic cat is a serious threat to endangered birds.
  • Pet therapy should receive more funding.
  • Birds should not be kept in cages.
  • Wild animals should be left in the wild.

Arts/Culture

  • Artists should be supported and funded by the state.
  • Cultural appropriation in any form is an insult.
  • No subject should be considered taboo in art.
  • Graffiti is art.
  • Art should be freely accessible to all.
  • Art appreciation and practice should be compulsory subjects.
  • Respecting cultural difference should be taught in all schools.
  • Everyone should know about the culture(s) they are born into.
  • Culture is essential, just like fresh air and food.

Automotive

  • Hands-on defensive driving training should be compulsory.
  • Electric vehicles should be subsidized.
  • Internal combustion engine powered vehicles should be taxed to cover emissions.
  • Bicycles and cars should have separate roads.
  • Children under the age of 10 should not ride bicycles on public roads.
  • Everybody who holds a driving license should be regularly retested.
  • Driving while using a cell phone should be illegal.
  • Private vehicle ownership and use in cities should be restricted.
  • Public transport in cities should be readily available and affordable. 

Business/Economy

  • Money is not the root of all evil.
  • Power does not necessarily corrupt.
  • All workers should at least receive the minimum wage.
  • The minimum wage should be increased.
  • Local businesses deserve more support.
  • Using cheaper foreign labor for manufacturing  is ruining our economy.

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Social/Community

  • Homelessness is the result of choice.
  • Becoming a parent should be an earned privilege.
  • Same-sex marriage should be accepted in the same way that heterosexual marriage is.
  • Juvenile crime is a cry for help not punishment.
  • Helping those who need it in the community should be everyone's responsibility.
  • Food should never be wasted.

Education

  • All education should be free.
  • Higher education is over-rated.
  • Boys and girls should be educated separately.
  • Students should wear uniforms.
  • Private (fee-paying) schools achieve better results.
  • Everybody who wants to go to school should be able to.
  • Ranking student ability using examinations should be stopped.
  • Assessment of a student's progress should be measured against themselves not their peers.
  • Class sizes should be smaller.
  • On-line teaching is as effective as classroom based teaching.

Environment

  • Being 'green' is a fashionable fad.
  • Many current farming practices damage the environment and should be banned.
  • All plastic packaging must be banned.
  • Should fracking be illegal?
  • Renewable energy schemes should be supported.
  • Mining in environmentally vulnerable areas should be stopped.
  • 'Green' spaces are good for mental health. There should be more parks. 

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Ethics

  • Lying is always wrong.
  • Truth is never debatable.
  • There is never an excuse or reason good enough to declare war.
  • Free speech should not be confused with hate speech.
  • What is 'right' and 'wrong' changes from generation to generation, from culture to culture.
  • Is it right to allow white supremacists to hold rallies?
  • Ethical considerations should underpin stem-cell research.

Health

  • Disabilities of any sort (mental, emotional,  or physical) are an opportunity for personal growth.
  • Healthcare is the responsibility of the individual, not the state.
  • What we eat, we become.
  • What we think, we are.
  • Plastic surgery should be only for those who really need it.
  • Assisted dying (suicide) should be legal.
  • Vaccinations in schools for common infectious diseases should be compulsory. 
  • A tax on sugar would help lessen the spread of diet related health problems.
  • Smoking tobacco and tobacco products should be made illegal.
  • Therapies, like art or music, should be government funded. 

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Global/World

  • Global warming is real.
  • The idea of peace on earth is naive.
  • Nationalism creates and sustains enemies.
  • Cultural difference should be celebrated.
  • First world countries should meaningfully and freely assist countries who need help.

Government/Law/Politics

  • Power does not necessarily corrupt.
  • Religion has no place in government.
  • Is state censorship or surveillance ever a right course of action?
  • Voting should be compulsory.
  • Military service should be compulsory.
  • It should be illegal to own or have a semi-automatic or assault weapon.

Media

  • Modern media is to blame for lowering moral standards/ reading levels/ escalating violence. (Select one!)
  • Online games can be good for you.
  • Internet chat rooms should be monitored.
  • FaceBook (or any other form of social media) is replacing the need for face to face communication.
  • Cyberbullying controls should be more actively put in place.
  • Monitoring media of any sort should be banned.

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Religion

  • Religious tolerance should be encouraged.
  • All religious institutions should be monitored by the state.
  • Should students be allowed to follow their religious practices in public schools?

Science/Technology

  • Food engineering is the way of the future.
  • Cell phone use in public places should be controlled.
  • Designer children - is this good for future generations?
  • Cloning is justifiable.
  • Self-driving cars should be legal.
  • The use of robots should be limited.

Sports

  • All athletes should be required to take regular drug tests.
  • Professional male and female athletes in the same sport should be paid equally.
  • Children should not be allowed to play collision sports.
  • No-one should be barred from a sport because of their gender.

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Getting from topic to speech

For help turning your chosen persuasive speech idea into a fully fledged speech check these pages.

Resources for preparation 

  • Persuasive Speech Outline
    Find out more about structuring an effective persuasive speech using Monroe's Motivated Sequence, the classic 5 step pattern used by all professional persuaders: politicians, the advertising industry, PR experts...
    There's a free downloadable blank persuasive speech outline template for you to use too.
Alan H Monroe

Image per courtesy Purdue University

  • And here's a persuasive speech example that uses Monroe's Motivated Sequence.  Before you go to look I'd like you know its content is potentially controversial: suicide and the impact it has on close family and friends.
  • Sample Speech Outline
    This is the familiar 3 part speech outline - good for any type of speech. Read the step by step instructions then download a free blank speech outline to complete. Fill it in and you're ready to go!
  • How to Write a Speech
    Step by step easily followed instructions for shaping your material into an effective speech.

More persuasive speech topics to choose from

Image:-piece of half eaten chocolate cake on a plate. Text: Fun persuasive speech topics - Having you cake and eating it too is fair.

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