Persuasive Speaking

A.K.A. Oratory


Persuasive speeches on the college level are nearly always policy based.  Common topics we have seen are listed below (and some sample speeches at the bottom).  Not all of these topics were good speeches but some of them made it to finals at national tournaments and some only finaled at regional tournaments.  Sometimes that is a result of the topic and sometimes the speaker.

Play Ground Safety

Dangerous 15 Pass. Vans

Abused Husbands

Fraud in Tissue banks

Soy may be bad

Wash Your Hands

Ban cell phones while driving

Ritilan is bad

Air Rage

Old Sewer Systems

Women's Heart Disease

Land Mine Removal

Rape Kit Use

Binding Arbitration

Child Soldiers

Bad Bridges

Gifted Programs

Nursing Home Condom Distributions


Here are some things to look for when you are looking for topics.

Significance:  One of the big problems the air rage and play ground safety speeches ran into was that they simply could not show significance.  The play ground speech showed that 17 children were killed on playgrounds as a result of unsafe equipment in one year.  Well, considering millions of kids play on them everyday, I would say that is an incredibly low number.  Air rage had only two or three recorded instances.


Solvency:  Yes it is a word from the world of debate but it applies here as well.  When you establish a problem you then need to be able to solve for that problem.  Often we need to solve on multiple levels (national, individual) and sometimes in multiple time frames (what we can do now and how to solve long term).  It is not enough that your solutions solve for the effects they need to solve for the causes as well.  This is where international topics often run into problems.  There is little your audience here can do to solve for problems in countries where we have no political power and reduction in aid to those countries will most likely only impact the poor and needy.  In general I recommend we avoid international topics but its not like we ban them completely.


Freshness:  Old topics often get summarily rejected by narrow-minded judges.  Because of that it is important that the topics you choose are newer problems.  So when you come up with topics run them by the coaches.  We, in turn, often run them by people from other regions to see if they have heard them.  (Here are some general topics to avoid: cloning, organ donation, pollution, kiddie porn, civil law suit reform, napster, and prescription drug issues.)

In general persuasive speeches tend to be policy based arguments.  That is not to say that your speech has got to have a policy change, as a matter of fact I think it would be fun to shake things up a little and not have a policy based change.

Sample Speeches


(There are two drafts of this speech an early draft and a final draft)

Wind Power


National Parks

Stop Smoking

Invest for Retirement

Prepackaged News

Over-worked Nurses

Furniture Fires

S.W.A.T. Teams







Accept No Substitutes