Speech Resources (COM 101)

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Choosing an Informative Speech Topic

If you already have a topic that interests you, search our library reference databases for more information and to learn how your topic might be relevant to your audience.

Maybe you’d like to know more about:

  • Your topic’s history or origin
  • Key people involved
  • How it’s different or unique compared to other similar topics

NOTE: If your topic is very current or about a lesser known or local person or event, it may not be in our reference databases, so try searching Google (for ideas, not for sources).

If you want to learn more about a current topic in the news and how it might relate to your audience and help increase their knowledge, our NewsBank database has a list of current research topics relating to technology, sports, the arts, health, literature, business, crime, people and more.

Finding Sources for the Informative Speech

Reference books like specialized encyclopedias, dictionaries and almanacs can help you understand your topic and precisely define the terms you use in your speech.

Books can be a key source of comprehensive information on a specific topic and are often written by an expert on that topic. Books can be dated since they go through an intense editorial and publishing process, so they are most useful for historical and background information.

Newspapers and magazines are referred to as "periodicals" because articles are published at regular times (daily, weekly, monthly) and therefore have more current information than books. Articles from national newspapers are useful when you want to include up-to-date information on national or world topics, while local newspapers are good sources for topics that have a local connection. Magazines are usually focused on a specific area of interest and can provide details about hobbies, sports, people, places, pets, events and more.

Journals are often referred to as "scholarly" or "peer reviewed" because they contain articles written by experts in a particular field. Other experts (peers) review the articles to decide what merits publication. Most journal articles report the results of research being done in that field. Although intended for an audience of other experts, journal articles can be used in speeches to identify expert testimony and to quote someone who is highly qualified on your topic.

Using Keywords to Search for Sources

Your informative speech topic is basically what you’re going to “teach” your audience. But before you can find good sources that explain the history, definitions, and more details to inform your audience about your topic, you’ll need to pull out the best possible keywords related to your topic to use when searching our library databases.

Before you search, try these steps!

1) Find the main points. What are the most important discussion points that you plan to tell your audience? For example, if you’re informing your audience about how unique a cheetah is in the animal kingdom you might choose words related to speed, hunting, and social groups.

2) Select 2-3 words. You probably don’t want to search with too many words, and having just one might not always be enough. For informative speeches, nouns will likely work better than verbs.

3) Think of synonyms. If you’re giving a speech about cheetah speed, what other words are there for speed? Fast, is an obvious one. But get even more specific. Try Google (for ideas, not for sources) to see what words are associated with your topic. For example, the words “fastest land animal” come up a lot for cheetahs.

4) Link together! Connect your keywords using the word AND rather than typing a whole sentence or question in your search bar when you start to look for sources. For example: cheetahs and fastest land animal. Don’t forget to try out multiple searches with different words.