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CMTH 102: Introduction to Communication: Persuasive Speeches

A typical assignment you might have in CMTH 102 is to write and present a persuasive or argumentative speech on a topic of your choice, with your ideas about it supported by sources and information you have found through research.

Your sources should be cited orally in your speech, formally in your outline, and in a bibliography or reference list. The number and types of sources you will need varies by professor. Check your assignment instructions to be sure you are meeting their requirements. 

Choosing a Topic

When picking a topic, consider:

  • your professor's prompt and the assignment instructions
  • picking something that interests you and that you want to learn more about
  • something that will be interesting and relatable or important to your audience
  • a personal issue, problem, concern, or experience, since you might have some existing knowledge about it
  • if it's manageable and the right scope (not too broad but also not too specific)
  • if it's likely to have research about it

Remember, you may need to revise and make adjustments to your topic as you start to find information about it. 

Topic Ideas

Need some inspiration? Some of our library databases offer suggestions: 

  • Browse Topics (CQ Researcher). Choose a topic from the list to explore reports about that topic. 
  • All Issues A to Z (Issues & Controversies). Choose a topic to see an overview and pro/con articles written about it. 
  • Browse Issues (Opposing Viewpoints - Gale in Context). Browse the full list or choose a category from the drop-down menu to explore a specific subject.

Developing Your Topic

To develop your topic and find your focus, do some brainstorming to break it into smaller pieces. Ask these questions:

  • Who? - specific age groups, cultures, genders
  • When? - time period (current or historical)
  • Where? - a geographic region (global/international, national, or local)
  • What? - causes, symptoms
  • Why? - value, importance

It might also help to think about:

  • what you already know about your topic
  • what you need to learn about your topic
  • what you intend to share about it
  • what questions your audience might have about it

You may need to do some preliminary searching for introductory or background information and overviews about your topic to help you at this point. Books, reference books, magazines, newspapers, and web sites are useful for this. Some of our library databases might help too -- learn more about which ones and how to search them on the Articles in Library Databases page of this guide. 

As you look for information, pay attention to anything that may help you later:

  • major concepts or theories related to your topic
  • language or terminology used by experts that you could use as search keywords
  • scholars or experts who do research on your topic
  • any cited sources that would be helpful for you to find and use yourself