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SPE 108: Choosing a Topic
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SPE 108: Choosing a Topic

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In this presentation you will learn how to select a topic for your speech. We will investigate a few divergent thinking techniques, as well as discuss how to focus your topic into a General Purpose, …

In this presentation you will learn how to select a topic for your speech. We will investigate a few divergent thinking techniques, as well as discuss how to focus your topic into a General Purpose, Central Idea and Specific Purpose.


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  • 1. Topic Selection SPE 108
  • 2. Choosing a topic• There are, literally, endless topics for speeches!Two broad categories for potential topics for classroom speeches:1. Stuff you already know a lot about2. Stuff you want to know more about
  • 3. Topics you know a lot about• People usually speak best on topics they are already familiar with• What kind of personal experiences could you speak about?
  • 4. Topics you want to know more about• Your speech can be a learning experience, for yourself and your audience• You may select a topic you know a little about and research more, choose something interesting you’ll be investigating for the first time, think about your values and beliefs.
  • 5. Brainstorming• Personal Inventory: Make a quick list of your experiences, interests, hobbies, skills, beliefs, etc.• Clustering: Take a sheet of paper and divide it into 9 columns: People, Places, Things, Events, Processes, Concepts, Natural Phenomena, Problems & Plans. Then list the first 5 things that come to mind under each heading• Free Association: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you look at your lists?
  • 6. Brainstorming• Reference Search: Browse through reference books (dictionary, encyclopedia) and see if any topics catch your interest• Internet Search: Google, Wikipedia
  • 7. Determining the general purpose & specific purpose• What is the broad goal of your speech? General PurposeExample: inform or persuade• What do you precisely hope to accomplish? Specific PurposeExample: To inform my audience about the benefits of music theory for people with cognitive delays
  • 8. Formulating a specific purpose statement• Write the purpose statement out as a full sentenceForces you to fully articulate your purpose• Express your purpose as a statement, not a questionA question doesn’t make you choose a direction for where your speech will go• Avoid figurative language in your purpose statementForces you to be specific, and avoid sweeping statements• Limit your purpose to one distinct ideaForces you to focus your direction
  • 9. Formulating a specific purpose statement• Limit your purpose to one distinct ideaForces you to focus your direction• Make sure your specific purpose is not too vague or generalIf it is, it’s NOT a specific purpose statement
  • 10. Questions to ask about your specific purpose1. Does my purpose meet the assignment?2. Can I accomplish my purpose in the time allotted?3. Is the purpose relevant to my audience?4. Is the purpose too trivial for my audience?5. Is the purpose too technical for my audience?
  • 11. The Central Idea• Central idea: a one sentence statement that sums up the major ideas of a speech• A concise statement about what you expect to say• Essentially the same as a thesis statement in a written paper• Your residual message – what you expect the audience to remember after you’re finished speaking• The central idea usually emerges after most of your research is complete, and you have already decided on the three main points of your speech.
  • 12. Guidelines for the central ideaThe central idea:1. Should be expressed in a full sentence2. Should not be in the form of a question3. Should avoid figurative language4. Should not be vague or overly general