21 - Persuasive Speeches
Finding a Two-Sided Persuasive Topic
Any persuasive topic must be two-sided. If there is not an opposing viewpoint then there is really no argument or position to prove. Your first step for your last set of speeches is to choose a two-sided topic. You can then develop a claim of Fact or Value based upon your research and conclusion drawn. This will provide background evidence and reasons for your arguments of a claim of policy in the fourth and final speech.
What Is a Two-Sided Topic?
A two-sided topic is one with a strong enough “flip side” that another person could easily argue against your position.
Here are examples of possible two-sided topics:
Nuclear Power—Some will argue due to the increase of population and power usage there is a need for building more nuclear power facilities. Some will argue this is harmful to the environment and a national security risk.
Electronic Books—Some will argue electronic books are the wave of the future for college textbooks. And some will argue nothing beats a hard copy book to use for studying.
Light Rail Service in Louisville—Some will say due to the increase in suburban sprawl and the rising cost of fuel there is a need for a light rail system in Louisville. Some will say due to the construction time and cost a light rail system will not be effective for commuters in the Louisville area.
“Green” Building Practices—Some will argue all the buildings on campus need to meet minimum green building/sustainability requirements and must be retrofitted. Others will argue it is cost prohibitive and will not make much of a difference in the area’s environment.
These are only a few examples of the many thousands of two-sided topics you could address for your persuasive speeches. Ask friends, ask your instructor, or talk with a Speech Mentor to help you brainstorm a two-sided topic.
You may already have a two-sided topic in mind! Try it out by creating both sides of the topic. Use your argument with the flip side and evaluate if it is a good two-sided argument.
Remember: A persuasive speech attempts to change the attitudes, actions, and/or beliefs of your audience members. A Claim of Fact or Value provides evidence and reasoning a problem exists, its severity, and its effect upon the audience. A Claim of Value adds a moral/ ethical, right/wrong aspect to the speech. A Claim of Policy argues a change in policy is needed and provides a solution and how it will work. Claims of Policy usually contain the words should/should not.
Try other topics/arguments if needed to help you strengthen your position.
Remember: Persuasion is two-sided. If there is no opposition, what’s your persuasion?
If you still need help finding a two-sided topic, try these ideas. Ask yourself:
What are the topics you argue or debate with friends or family members (or that you would like to argue and debate)?
When you listen to or watch the news, do you ever hear a story that makes you say to yourself, “Boy, I disagree with that” or, “I disagree with how that is being handled”?
What makes you mad or angry or raises questions in your mind?
Do you ever see a better way to do something? If so, maybe that’s a possible topic.
Is there something (for example, a service or a product) that is better than the current one being used? Perhaps that might be a topic.
What did you hear on the news, read in the media, or see on social media that makes you think of different approaches? Maybe that could be a topic.
Also remember, you may want to argue the status quo is fine and change could be bad.
Note: Do not pick a topic because there is “a lot of stuff” on it—pick a topic of interest to you, that matters to you, and that you can relate to your audience.