This page provides tips for choosing controversial speech topics, along with guidelines for putting together a great presentation.
If you want to jump STRAIGHT to a list of topics, you can find them here.
When browsing a list of potential topic ideas, ask yourself what strong concerns, beliefs or opinions you have on each one.
To put it bluntly - if you don't care either way about a topic, don't bother choosing it!
The purpose of speaking on a controversial subject is to take a position and persuade your audience members that YOUR view on the topic is either the
In other words, make them see that your view is the one they should adopt.
To do this, you need to speak with passion, from the heart. Your audience will easily be able to tell if your own point of view on the subject is wishy-washy. By the same token, the audience will recognize genuine passion when the members hear it - and emotion can be very compelling!
Write your topic statement simply and clearly. For example, Attorney-Client Privilege should be abolished or Why Children Shouldn't Use Cell Phones. These statements leave no doubt as to what your view on the topic is.
Check out this list of good controversial speech topics and brainstorm more subjects on which you feel you could take a firm stand.
1. Arguments of fact deal with causal relationships, future predictions or questions of history. These arguments are about what is or is not - what is right or untrue. For example:
2. Arguments of value ask individuals to make a choice on whether we should or shouldn't do something. They tend to involve judgment and often bring out people's personal tastes and prejudices. Some examples are
3. Arguments of policy concern rules or laws that we are required to follow. Some examples of this are
For a powerful, controversial speech, pick one of the above types of arguments (also known as 'claims') and stick with it throughout your presentation.
1. There's the Pro-Con Pattern, which is similar to a compare/contrast format. Give an intro such as "I am in favor of condoms being offered in schools," then give your con arguments (sexual activity will rise, etc.), next to your pro arguments (encourages safe sex, cuts down on STD's, etc.) and lastly, your conclusion.
2. The Effect-Cause Pattern is when the body of your speech contains a description of effects, and then the cause is revealed. I compare this pattern to the TV show Law and Order: CI (Criminal Intent). First, you are shown the murder (effect) and murderer... and then the rest of the show is about what caused the crime to happen.
3. The Problem-Solution Pattern is somewhat like the Effect-Cause pattern. You would use this pattern when your speech is about a problem that is new to your audience members. You need to spend a lot of time developing the problem and less time would be devoted to the solution.
4. The Elimination Pattern is used for topics with which your audience is already familiar. Examples would be abortion issues, legalization of marijuana, etc. Using this pattern, you need to spend more time on trying to eliminate worn out, not-so-great solutions in favor of the BEST solution (yours!).
When creating a speech centered on a controversial topic, it's essential to develop supporting arguments: find examples, statistics, quotes, etc. and be diligent in documenting and citing your references.
Be very sure to research opposing opinions, beliefs, arguments, morals and policies for your topic. Being ready for any opposition you may face is essential. Deal with it skillfully, and you will enhance your position and very likely bring even more of the audience around to your way of thinking.
You may feel a little apprehensive when deciding on which controversial speech topics you will base your presentation. But expressing your beliefs and (hopefully) convincing audience members that your view is valid and worthy of their support are rewards well worth working for!
How to Convince People Your Ideas are Valid
A Sample Pro/Con Speech about Children and Cell Phones
A Sample Pro/Con Speech about the Attorney/Client Privilege
University of Michigan Center for Research Learning and Training - Handling Controversial Topics in Discussion
"controversy can be a useful, powerful, and memorable tool to promote learning."