Speech Study Guide

©2017 of 80 3.3 Topics At times it may seem difficult, or even impossible, to find a topic for a speech. Sometimes the topic is given to the speaker, such as with a standardized exam or when someone is called on to speak about their expertise in a given area. Topics may also revolve around the passions and concerns or values of the speakers themselves. If a speaker will be speaking about something involving public opinion and concern, they should always be willing to do more research and have references available, no matter how extensive their primary knowledge is. The reasons a speaker chooses to speak about public concerns vary from wanting to affect change to wanting to clear up a topic of controversial nature. If a speaker is feeling lost about what their topic should be, it is safe to examine what matters to the speaker to help provide a topic. It is human nature to deliver ideas about something we care about versus something we have little interest in. Following one’s passions and interests is crucial for effective speech delivery. No matter one’s own passions, research is essential to formulate, evaluate, and support opinions and passions. To further help select a topic, a speaker may conduct a self-inventory by examining what the individual really knows and cares about. This can be done by looking at issues that affect the speaker or their community, or by really taking an inventory of intellectual and educational interests, goals, and activities. This method helps to generate topics. In order to really conceptualize a topic, brainstorming may help. Brainstorming is the act of writing down anything that comes to one’s mind about a particular category. Do not worry about what will be of interest to the audience or what kind of information can be found. Write down everything that comes to mind to evaluate later for a definitive topic. Similar to brainstorming, concept mapping is a visual means of exploring connections between a subject and ideas. When generating ideas ask who, what, when, where, why, and how. When examining interests, the best place to begin is with personal and community interests. Put simply, there are two questions to ask: what is going on in the personal life of the speaker that is bothersome or concerning and what is happening in the immediate world that is unfair, unjust, or in need of reform. Asking these questions about the speaker’s life allows them to truly examine what is important and pertinent to their own lives. When speakers care about the topic they are more effective in their delivery and influence on the audience. By looking at the intellectual and educational interests of the speaker, it helps to refine possible topics. There are a few key questions to ask in regard to these interests: what does the speaker like to read, what interesting things have been learned from television and media, and what specific courses or issues are particularly interesting to the speaker. By examining what a speaker likes to read, it can help them consider a topic dealing with different cultural issues. Those who read are more aware of the issues of others. In conjunction with Maslow’s notion of meeting physiological needs, when an audience feels as though a speaker is appealing to their need to meet their full potential, the audience members are Achieve Test Prep Page 23

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