Giving speeches can be incredibly intimidating, no matter if it’s for school, a job, a conference…it’s scary!
What’s even a little more intimidating is giving a persuasive speech. I remember when I took a class where we had to learn the “art of persuasion,” as they call it, and it was unnerving knowing that I had to try to get a group of people in my class to agree with me on something they may have entirely different opinions about.
While I had to take an entire class to sort of understand how a persuasive speech works, I did all of that so you don’t have to.
This is a one-stop-shop to persuasive speeches, from learning what they are, what makes them up, tips on how to write and present, and even 140 persuasive speech topics that you can either use yourself or use as a jumping-off point to find something you like even more!
In this post:
- What is a Persuasive Speech?
- Components of a Persuasive Speech
- Tips to Write a Good Persuasive Speech Topic
- Top Persuasive Speech Topics
- Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Health
- Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Religion
- Top Persuasive Speech Topics on the Arts
- Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Sports
- Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Economics
- Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Entertainment
- Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Academics
- Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Ethics
- Top Persuasive Speech Topics on the Environment
- Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Fashion
- Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Motivation
- Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Travel
- Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Technology
What is a Persuasive Speech?
A persuasive speech has one very clear goal – for the speaker to convince (or persuade) the audience into believing or at least accepting the speaker’s specific viewpoint.
Mastering persuasive speeches can be super helpful in a bunch of different fields. Whether you’re in an actual debate, trying to land a sales pitch, in a law office, or even just in a classroom, persuasive speaking is incredibly common in our everyday lives.
Even though we use persuasive speeches or language throughout our day-to-day lives, persuasive speeches can be traced all the way back to Aristotle! He came up with the components of logical reason (logos), human character (ethos), and emotion (pathos) – but we’ll get more into those in a second.
Persuasive speeches are important to master because understanding how to craft and eventually present them means you are picking up incredibly vital tools.
Learning how to capture the attention of an audience, organize information in a logical and clear manner, and connect with an audience so that they trust you enough to believe what you’re saying will not only make for a great speech, but will set you up with tools that you can carry into different situations.
So, now that you know a little bit about what a persuasive speech is and what its goals are, let’s get into the…
Components of a Persuasive Speech
When I was a junior in college, I took an entire class about the art of persuasion.
Now, I took a whole course on it, so obviously there is a lot to creating a strong persuasive speech, but here are the main components to keep in mind for when you start building one.
Ethos: this is the part of a persuasive speech that builds trust and establishes credibility.
Ethos can be used throughout, but you mainly want to use it at the beginning of your speech, in the introduction. It’s a way of getting the audience to trust you.
One way to create a strong ethos is by sharing a personal story of how you connect to the topic of your speech.
Another way is to tell the audience what authority you have in giving the speech – i.e., if you’re a doctor presenting about economics, the audience might not think you have as strong of credibility, whereas if you were a doctor presenting about the importance of a healthy diet, it would be easier to trust the information.
Pathos: now, this is all about emotion.
My professor would always advise us on the importance of a strong emotional appeal when giving a persuasive speech.
While at first, I didn’t necessarily get what she meant, when I wrote my speech about the importance of birth control coverage, I learned that my argument was stronger when I told the audience why I was passionate about the subject.
Kind of like with ethos, where the audience wants to make sure the speaker is knowledgeable about the subject, pathos makes a persuasive speech more convincing because the audience sees and hears the passion in what you’re saying.
When I started my speech talking about my own personal struggles with birth control, my argument was much more convincing than if I had just started with facts and figures, because the audience got to see a side of me that let them know what I was saying was raw and real.
Logos: even though you don’t want to start with the facts and figures, logos are probably the most important part of your speech, because it’s all about logic and providing support to your argument.
After telling the audience why I was so passionate about fair access to birth control, I started sharing statistics that demonstrated how many individuals do not have access to any contraceptives.
Logic and reason, here, are usually provided through evidence or stories that can be used as support. If you think of your speech kind of like an essay, this is the part where you are providing facts to back up your claims – except you’re speaking it!
You can really tell a well-crafted persuasive speech by whether or not the speaker solely relies on logos. Obviously, having credible sources, points, and evidence are all super vital to your argument and ability to persuade someone, but unless you establish credibility and shared emotion, you are just relying on facts.
In the world we live in today, in order to convince someone you are right, you have to appeal to all aspects of their identity, and that isn’t just about the facts.
If there is any advice I can give you when it comes to mastering the components of a persuasive speech and really making sure you get to the hearts of the audience, it’s to outline what you want to say with these three major components in mind.
When I wrote my speech, I started by just telling my story, and then moved into talking about how I researched the topic and looked at many different sources.
In a way, I told the audience that even though I am not a medical professional, my information is credible because I took the time to understand the laws in place, societal perceptions of contraception, etc.
THEN I moved into the statistics, figures, personal accounts, quotations from different laws, and so on.
Throughout the speech, even when I was talking about the logos side of things, I still made sure that I connected my points to my personal experience to keep drawing the audience into my story as well as the facts.
If you really take the time to think about each of these components and making sure they come to life, you will increase your chances of convincing at least one person that what you are saying is right.
Tips to Write a Good Persuasive Speech Topic
So, you’ve finally made it to the part where you must craft your speech. What’s important to remember while writing a persuasive speech is that you want to sound like yourself!
While these tips can help guide you in making sure your speech is well structured, always keep in mind that a speech won’t be very good if it’s fake.
While these tips can lead you in the right direction, just make sure that you add some of your personality – if you’re goofier, incorporate some jokes. Take these tips and make them your own! That’s how your speech is really going to shine.
Without further ado:
- Grab their attention from the very beginning. Whether it’s sharing a personal anecdote, shocking people with a wild statistic, or telling a joke, the best way to make sure people are engaged from start to finish is by drawing them in with something exciting.
- Make sure you find something in common with the audience. In a speech class I took, my professor talked about the importance of common ground. To really be persuasive, you must show your audience that they have a reason to trust you. Whether it’s talking about a personal experience that a lot of people can relate to, or certain beliefs you know your audience may hold, finding a reason to make the audience trust you will help them to be persuaded.
- Provide the audience with a roadmap. Right before you get into the nitty-gritty, it might be a good idea to let your audience know what to expect.
- Remember the power of repetition. This doesn’t mean saying the same sentence over and over again in the exact same way, but always come back to the same ideas or keywords to really help the audience remember what the point is.
- Don’t freak if you mess up. Everyone gets nervous, and letting your nerves take over when trying to persuade someone will probably do you more harm than good in the long run. Either gloss over a mistake or even just say “you know what, I’m talking a bit too fast and stumbling over my words, I just get so excited talking about __________. Let me take a breath and calm down.”
- Color code your written speech! This is not only helpful to do so that you can make sure you have elements of ethos, pathos, and logos (by color-coding them different colors), it also makes it easier to memorize. I’ve used this trick countless times, and it’s so much easier to glance down at a sheet of paper when you get a little lost speaking and have your eyes know exactly where to go.
Here are also just a few quick tips to carry with you throughout the writing and speaking process:
- Write as you talk.
- Be concise in your points.
- Make eye contact when you speak.
- Practice. Practice. Practice.
- Don’t speak too quickly!
Now that you have an idea of what you’re doing, the next step is picking a topic. This part can be very intimidating, but don’t worry – I’ve got you covered with a bunch of different persuasive speech topics in different categories!
Top Persuasive Speech Topics (General)
Legalization and decriminalization of marijuana
- Students should be given textbooks for free
- Colleges should provide free parking to students
- Funding towards space exploration should be decreased exponentially, if not completely discontinued
- Parents should not have access to their children’s grades
- Can money buy happiness?
- You should read more books
- The legal age of adulthood should be changed to 21 (US)
- The drinking and smoking ages should be lowered to 18 (US)
- The moon landing: real or fake?
Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Health
- The ethics behind abortion – should it be legalized in all 50 states?
- Are non-GMO foods really more beneficial?
- Are energy drinks good for you?
- Why breakfast is the most important meal of your day
- Schools should (or shouldn’t) teach sex education
- The dangers of e-cigarettes, vapes, and Juuls to our health
- Plastic surgery should only be used on people who have been affected by appearance changing incidents and those who need it for their health – it should not be cosmetic
- Should we put more focus on developing widely accessible oral male birth control, or should it be up to the woman?
- Is the hybrid health care system as adopted in the US the best system for society?
- Should euthanasia be decriminalized?
Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Religion
- Is it ethical to allow teen marriages in church?
- Christian views on same-sex marriage
- Should religious businesses be allowed to withhold services to gay people?
- Should the church and the state truly be separate? Is that possible?
- Is atheism a threat to society?
- Should all schools teach some form of religion as part of their curriculum?
- What are the religious views on cloning?
- Can religion be attributed as the cause of most social and political conflicts in history?
- Do Heaven and Hell really exist?
- Does being a “good person” and being kind to others mean you will automatically get into Heaven?
Top Persuasive Speech Topics on the Arts
- Should schools enforce an art curriculum?
- How can we make art be seen on a level playing field with subjects like math or science? Should they be seen equally?
- Is a picture really worth 1,000 words?
- Is political art an effective form of protest?
- Should graffiti be considered art?
- Importance of making museums free
- Should offensive or inappropriate language be taken out of classic literature?
- How do we measure talent when art is incredibly subjective?
- Is photography an art form?
- Should artists stop charging for their work?
Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Sports
- Are college sports coaches making too much money?
- Should college athletes receive “special treatment”? (i.e. extra time on assignments, leniency, extra help outside of class, etc)
- Co-ed sports – should we begin trying to make co-ed sports the standard and start to eliminate women’s and men’s leagues?
- The gender pay gap in sports…female athletes getting paid less than male athletes even if the team is performing better on average
- How to help eliminate homophobia in sports
- Should women’s sports teams exclusively be coached by female coaches?
- How should transgender people fit into competition (i.e. should they be forced to play in groups of their assigned gender at birth or the gender they identity with? Separate leagues?)
- Sha’Carri Richardson being suspended from the Olympics because she tested positive for having marijuana in her system
- Male athletes receiving more media coverage than female athletes
- Should sports teams with names or mascots who have a history rooted in racism be forced to change their names or mascots?
Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Economics
- How free trade agreements benefit or harm workers
- Who is to blame for rising energy prices?
- Should the minimum wage be higher? Fixed between all states? Completely eliminated?
- Should protectionist measures against big corporations be more encouraged?
- Is the World Bank productive?
- All interns should be paid
- Why should imported products come with an extra tax?
- Should the US include sales tax in their price tags?
- Is it the responsibility of the government to provide housing for the homeless?
- Should minimum wage be raised in correlation to gas prices rising?
Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Entertainment
- Beauty pageants are unethical and cause young girls to develop self-image issues
- Can television be used as an educational tool, or is it inhibiting young people from being able to properly focus?
- The entertainment industry is harmful to self-image and confidence
- Reality shows are toxic and should be banned from television
- Social media is one of the leading sources of fake news
- Social media influencers are a detriment to society
- Cancel culture is negatively impacting us
- Advertisements on social media and in print are some of the leading causes of self-image issues in teens
- The entertainment industry upholds the sexualization of women
- Listening to music can have many positive impacts on your day-to-day life and overall mood
Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Academics
- Attending college should be free
- There should be a system in place where students can have free access to a set of college-level courses to decide if college is right for them before investing thousands of dollars
- Would eliminating the possibility of tenure improve or worsen higher education?
- Should same-sex institutions be banned?
- Should all schools be required to include some courses surrounding the importance of mental health?
- Benefits (or downfalls) of year-round schooling at any grade level
- Should all schools in the US change to the metric system?
- Open note tests are more beneficial to students’ learning than closed-book tests
- Should schools get rid of grades to eliminate grade-related stress? What about making the standards for certain grades the same across all universities to ensure certain standards of education?
- Should we completely eliminate standardized testing for all institutions?
Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Ethics
- Should you be allowed to take back an animal you adopted from a shelter?
- Is it okay for children under 17 to see an R-rated movie if they are accompanied by an adult?
- Should individuals be forced to stand for the national anthem?
- Should insurance companies/employers be forced to cover birth control if it conflicts with personal religious beliefs?
- Zoos and circuses as forms of animal abuse that gains a profit
- The ethics behind IVF or gene-selecting in babies
- Should we work to hold celebrities and influencers accountable if they promote products that are harmful, even if they don’t actually use the product and are just profiting off the endorsement?
- Should violent video games be banned and discontinued for promoting violence?
- The harm childhood actors face as they grow up, and how to prevent it
- Slurs and offensive/racist language should be banned from TV and movies, even if they fit the context of the story
Top Persuasive Speech Topics on the Environment
- Plastic bags are incredibly harmful to our planet, and we should try to stop using them
- Hunting is detrimental to biodiversity
- Climate change is killing our planet
- Climate change is causing a great influx in immigration
- Electric cars are the way of the future
- How household and industrial waste is harming our planet
- Prevention of wildfires
- How and why to enforce reduce, reuse, recycle
- The ethics behind becoming vegetarian or vegan to help the environment
- Should we ban oil drilling in Alaska?
Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Fashion
- Colors in fashion should not be attributed to any gender
- Fast fashion is unethical
- Sustainable fashion is too expensive to fill your closet with
- The fashion industry is toxic
- The fashion industry negatively affects self-image and beauty standards
- The desire for name-brand items is classist
- Articles of clothing should not be gendered (i.e. dresses should not be just for girls/women)
- Fashion is one of the best ways to express who you are
- The fashion industry can encourage appropriation of cultural clothing
- Uniforms should be required (or banned) at all educational institutions
Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Motivation
- How to let go of the past
- The power of positive thinking
- Bullet journaling is the future
- How to turn weaknesses into strengths
- How to manage your expectations
- The difference between winning and succeeding
- The power of hobbies
- Breaking bad habits
- Starting your day with affirmations can better your future
- Should schools get rid of homework requirements?
Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Travel
- Traveling lowers stress levels
- Traveling encourages a healthier lifestyle because it forces you to be more active
- Studying abroad should be encouraged (maybe even required) at a university level to encourage cultural immersion
- Travel should be required for students studying a foreign language to encourage a better grasp of the language
- Traveling opens up more beneficial networking opportunities than looking only in your surrounding community
- Traveling can become addictive, which can have harmful consequences
- Traveling can make you appreciate your home more
- Vaccination requirements should (or shouldn’t) be enforced around the world after COVID-19
- Eco-tourism is important for sustainable development across the world
- Airplane tickets should be cheaper, and prices should not vary depending on what website you buy them from
Top Persuasive Speech Topics on Technology
- Using drones to deliver packages rather than services like UPS, Amazon, etc.
- Self-driving cars: a good idea or a safety hazard?
- Desktop computers are obsolete
- The internet should be censored
- All published books should also have a PDF available
- Hybrid vehicles safe energy
- Depending on technology makes people lazy and complacent
- Identity chips should be inserted in everyone at birth
- E-books should (or shouldn’t) replace paper books
- All social networking apps should be forced to provide a way to verify every user’s identity to limit instances of catfishing
I hope these persuasive speech topic ideas have taken at least a little stress off of writing your speech!
Just remember as you look through these that you can argue absolutely any side to these topics or answer the questions in any way you like.
There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer – it’s all about finding the side you believe in and trying to convince everyone else to believe it too!
Want more resources? Watch this video on persuasive speech topics!
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