Are you struggling to find good persuasive speech topics? It can be hard to find a topic that interests both you and your audience, but in this guide we’ve done the hard work and created a list of 105 great persuasive speech ideas. They’re organized into ten categories and cover a variety of topics, so you’re sure to find one that interests you.
In addition to our list, we also go over which factors make good persuasive speech topics and three tips you should follow when researching and writing your persuasive speech.
What Makes a Good Persuasive Speech Topic?
What makes certain persuasive speech topics better than others? There are numerous reasons, but in this section we discuss three of the most important factors of great topics for a persuasive speech.
It’s Something You Know About or Are Interested in Learning About
The most important factor in choosing and creating a great persuasive speech is picking a topic you care about and are interested in. You’ll need to do a lot of research on this topic, and if it’s something you like learning about, that’ll make the process much easier and more enjoyable. It’ll also help you sound passionate and informed when you talk, both important factors in giving an excellent persuasive speech.
It’s a Topic People Care About
In fourth grade, after being told I could give a persuasive speech on any topic I wanted to, I chose to discuss why the Saguaro cactus should be the United State’s national plant. Even though I gave an impassioned talk and drew a life-size Saguaro cactus on butcher paper to hang behind me, I doubt anyone enjoyed the speech much.
I’d recently returned from a family vacation to Arizona where I’d seen Saguaro cacti for the first time and decided they were the coolest thing ever. However, most people don’t care that much about Saguaro cacti, and most people don’t care what our national plant is or if we even have one (for the record, the US has a national flower, and it’s the rose).
Spare yourself the smattering of bored applause my nine-old self got at the end of my speech and choose something you think people will be interested in hearing about. This also ties into knowing your audience, which we discuss more in the final section.
It Isn’t Overdone
When I was in high school, nearly every persuasive speech my classmates and I were assigned was the exact same topic: should the drinking age be lowered to 18? I got this prompt in English class, on standardized tests, in speech and debate class, etc. I’ve written and presented about it so often I could probably still rattle off all the main points of my old speeches word-for-word.
You can imagine that everyone’s eyes glazed over whenever classmates gave their speeches on this topic. We’d heard about it so many times that, even if it was a topic we cared about, speeches on it just didn’t interest us anymore.
The are many potential topics for a persuasive speech. Be wary of choosing one that's cliche or overdone. Even if you give a great speech, it’ll be harder to keep your audience interested if they feel like they already know what you’re going to say.
An exception to this rule is that if you feel you have a new viewpoint or facts about the topic that currently aren’t common knowledge. Including them can make an overdone topic interesting. If you do this, be sure to make it clear early on in your speech that you have unique info or opinions on the topic so your audience knows to expect something new.
105 Topics for a Persuasive Speech
Here’s our list of 105 great persuasive speech ideas. We made sure to choose topics that aren’t overdone, yet that many people will have an interest in, and we also made a point of choosing topics with multiple viewpoints rather than simplistic topics that have a more obvious right answer (i.e. Is bullying bad?). The topics are organized into ten categories.
- Should art and music therapy be covered by health insurance?
- Should all students be required to learn an instrument in school?
- Should all national museums be free to citizens?
- Should graffiti be considered art?
- Should offensive language be removed from works of classic literature?
- Are paper books better than e-books?
- Should all interns be paid for their work?
- Should employees receive bonuses for walking or biking to work?
- Will Brexit hurt or help the UK’s economy?
- Should all people over the age of 65 be able to ride the bus for free?
- Should the federal minimum wage be increased?
- Should tipping in restaurants be mandatory?
- Should Black Friday sales be allowed to start on Thanksgiving?
- Should students who bully others be expelled?
- Should all schools require students wear uniforms?
- Should boys and girls be taught in separate classrooms?
- Should students be allowed to listen to music during study hall?
- Should all elementary schools be required to teach a foreign language?
- Should schools include meditation or relaxation breaks during the day?
- Should grades in gym class affect students’ GPAs?
- Should teachers get a bonus when their students score well on standardized tests?
- Should children of illegal immigrants be allowed to attend public schools?
- Should students get paid for getting a certain GPA?
- Should students be allowed to have their cell phones with them during school?
- Should high school students be allowed to leave school during lunch breaks?
- Should Greek life at colleges be abolished?
- Should high school students be required to volunteer a certain number of hours before they can graduate?
- Should schools still teach cursive handwriting?
- What are the best ways for schools to stop bullying?
- Should prostitution be legalized?
- Should people with more than one DUI lose their driver’s license?
- Should people be required to shovel snow from the sidewalks in front of their house?
- Should minors be able to drink alcohol in their home if they have their parent’s consent?
- Should guns be allowed on college campuses?
- Should flag burning as a form of protest be illegal?
- Should welfare recipients be required to pass a drug test?
- Should white supremacist groups be allowed to hold rallies in public places?
- Should assault weapons be illegal?
- Should the death penalty be abolished?
- Should beauty pageants for children be banned?
- Is it OK to refuse to serve same-sex couples based on religious beliefs?
- Should transgender people be allowed to serve in the military?
- Is it better to live together before marriage or to wait?
- Should affirmative action be allowed?
- Should prisoners be allowed to vote?
- Should Columbus Day be replaced with Indigenous Peoples’ Day?
- Should the government spend more money on developing high-speed rail lines and less on building new roads?
- Should the government be allowed to censor internet content deemed inappropriate?
- Should Puerto Rico become the 51st state?
- Should Scotland declare independence from the United Kingdom?
- Whose face should be on the next new currency printed by the US?
- Should people convicted of drug possession be sent to recovery programs instead of jail?
- Should voting be made compulsory?
- Who was the best American president?
- Should the military budget be reduced?
- Should the President be allowed to serve more than two terms?
- Should a border fence be built between the United States and Mexico?
- Should countries pay ransom to terrorist groups in order to free hostages?
- Should minors be able to purchase birth control without their parent’s consent?
- Should hiding or lying about your HIV status with someone you’re sleeping with be illegal?
- Should governments tax soda and other sugary drinks and use the revenue for public health?
- Should high schools provide free condoms to students?
- Should the US switch to single-payer health care?
- Should healthy people be required to regularly donate blood?
- Should assisted suicide be legal?
- Should religious organizations be required to pay taxes?
- Should priests be allowed to get married?
- Should the religious slaughter of animals be banned?
- Should the Church of Scientology be exempt from paying taxes?
- Should women be allowed to be priests?
- Should countries be allowed to only accept refugees with certain religious beliefs?
- Should public prayer be allowed in schools?
- Should human cloning be allowed?
- Should people be allowed to own exotic animals like tigers and monkeys?
- Should “animal selfies” in tourist locations with well-known animal species (like koalas and tigers) be allowed?
- Should genetically modified foods be sold in grocery stores?
- Should people be allowed to own pit bulls?
- Should parents be allowed to choose the sex of their unborn children?
- Should vaccinations be required for students to attend public school?
- What is the best type of renewable energy?
- Should plastic bags be banned in grocery stores?
- Should the United States rejoin the Paris Agreement?
- Should puppy mills be banned?
- Should fracking be legal?
- Should animal testing be illegal?
- Should offshore drilling be allowed in protected marine areas?
- Should the US government increase NASA’s budget?
- Should Pluto still be considered a planet?
- Should college athletes be paid for being on a sports team?
- Should all athletes be required to pass regular drug tests?
- Should professional female athletes be paid the same as male athletes in the same sport?
- Are there any cases when athletes should be allowed to use steroids?
- Should college sports teams receive less funding?
- Should boxing be illegal?
- Should schools be required to teach all students how to swim?
- Should cheerleading be considered a sport?
- Should parents let their children play tackle football?
- Will robots reduce or increase human employment opportunities?
- What age should children be allowed to have a cell phone?
- Should libraries be replaced with unlimited access to e-books?
- Overall, has technology helped connect people or isolate them?
- Should self-driving cars be legal?
- Should all new buildings be energy efficient?
- Is Net Neutrality a good thing or a bad thing?
- Do violent video games encourage players to become violent in real life?
3 Bonus Tips for Crafting Your Persuasive Speech
Of course, giving a great persuasive speech requires more than just choosing a good topic. Follow the three tips below to create an outstanding speech that’ll interest and impress your audience.
Do Your Research
For a persuasive speech, there’s nothing worse than getting an audience question that shows you misunderstood the issue or left an important piece out. It makes your entire speech look weak and unconvincing.
Before you start writing a single word of your speech, be sure to do lots of research on all sides of the topic. Look at different sources and points of view to be sure you’re getting the full picture, and if you know any experts on the topic, be sure to ask their opinion too.
Consider All the Angles
Persuasive speech topics are rarely black and white, which means there will be multiple sides and viewpoints on the topic. For example, for the topic “Should people be allowed to own pit bulls?” there are two obvious viewpoints: everyone should be allowed to own a pit bull if they want to, and no one should be allowed to own a pit bull. But there are other options you should also consider: people should only own a pit bull if they pass a dog training class, people should be able to own pit bulls, but only if it’s the only dog they own, people should be able to own pi tbulls but only if they live a certain distance from schools, people should be able to own pit bulls only if the dog passes an obedience class, etc.
Thinking about all these angles and including them in your speech will make you seem well-informed on the topic, and it’ll increase the quality of your speech by looking at difference nuances of the issue.
Know Your Audience
Whenever you give a speech, it’s important to consider your audience, and this is especially true for persuasive speeches when you’re trying to convince people to believe a certain viewpoint. When writing your speech, think about what your audience likely already knows about the topic, what they probably need explained, and what aspects of the topic they care about most. Also consider what the audience will be most concerned about for a certain topic, and be sure to address those concerns.
For example, if you’re giving a speech to a Catholic organization on why you think priests should be allowed to marry, you don’t need to go over the history of Catholicism or its core beliefs (which they probably already know), but you should mention any research or prominent opinions that support your view (which they likely don’t know about). They may be concerned that priests who marry won’t be as committed to God or their congregations, so be sure to address those concerns and why they shouldn’t worry about them as much as they may think. Discussing your topic with people (ideally those with viewpoints similar to those of your future audience) before you give your speech is a good way to get a better understanding of how your audience thinks.
More Resources for Writing Persuasive Speeches
If you need more guidance or just want to check out some examples of great persuasive writing, consider checking out the following books:
- Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History by William Safire — This collection of great speeches throughout history will help you decide how to style your own argument.
- The Essentials of Persuasive Public Speaking by Sims Wyeth — For quick direct tips on public speaking, try this all-purpose guide.
- Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds by Carmine Gallo — This popular book breaks down what makes TED talks work and how you can employ those skills in your own presentations.
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman — These two recent speeches by contemporary writers offer stellar examples of how to craft a compelling (and engaging) argument.
Conclusion: Persuasive Speech Ideas
Good persuasive speech topics can be difficult to think of, but in this guide we’ve compiled a list of 105 interesting persuasive speech topics for you to look through.
The best persuasive speech ideas will be on a topic you’re interested in, aren’t overdone, and will be about something your audience cares about.
After you’ve chosen your topic, keep these three tips in mind when writing your persuasive speech:
- Do your research
- Consider all the angles
- Know your audience
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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.