Speech Resources (COM 101)

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Choosing a Persuasive Speech Topic

If you can’t think of a topic or how to persuade your audience of your view, here are some library databases to get started:

Using Keywords to Search for Sources

Once you've narrowed your topic to a specific argument for persuading, you can develop good keywords to search within our library databases. You'll want to use the most important words in your argument, but sometimes it takes some "pre-research" to determine which words are important. Try these steps!

1) Find your arguments. Why are you trying to persuade your specific topic? If you're not sure of of what arguments support it, go to Google (for ideas, not for sources) and type in your topic. For example: "Americans should adopt a vegetarian diet."

2) Look for words. See what types of arguments and words keep coming up. For example, you might see several health articles about vegetarian diets lowering body mass index.

3) Double check! Just because you found it online doesn't mean it's true. Type the keywords that came up in Google into an academic library database to see if the evidence supports it. Keywords like: vegetarian diet AND body mass index OR BMI might be useful.

4) Try it in quotes! Common phrases can be put in quotation to search the words together. For example, "Vegetarian diet" will exclude sources that talk about being a vegetarian in one part of an article and being on a diet in another part. "Body mass index" is another common phrase that can be put in quotes to search.

Find Sources for the Persuasive Speech

Persuasive speech assignments at CSN usually address controversial topics with opposing viewpoints. Pick a topic you can defend when confronted by an argument that supports a different point of view. This kind of speech calls for you to investigate a topic and look for facts, statistics, and written evidence from scientific studies. You can search the literature found in library databases for evidence not only to support your own position but to understand other viewpoints and present a counterargument. Here are three databases to find articles by experts that support a certain point of view that also include background and supporting facts and figures.

You can also use many of the sources listed for the informative speech such as reference books, books, newspapers, magazines and journals.