How to Choose a Speech Topic – Brainstorming Methods for the Novice Speechwriter

The first step in speechmaking is choosing a topic. Often, a speech topic is determined by the venue, event and speaker. A Commencement speaker probably wouldn’t deliver a speech about the benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar everyday or Ariana Grande’s rise to fame. Their speech would focus on graduation-related themes. However, a student in a public speaking class will probably have more freedom when choosing a speech topic. The first two speeches my students deliver are informative speeches, and I allow them to pick their speech topics, contingent on my approval. I’ve had students speak about Post Malone’s early life and career, astrology and even avocados! Here are some tips for helping you brainstorm a potential speech topic!

Personal Inventory

This method of brainstorming involves writing down a list of your experiences, interests, hobbies, skills, beliefs, etc. Write down anything that pops into your head, no matter how trivial you think the topic may be. From this list, a general subject area may emerge that can help you pick a more narrow topic.


If the personal inventory method doesn’t work for you, give clustering a whirl! This technique involves dividing a piece of paper into nine columns: People, Places, Things, Events, Processes, Concepts, Natural Phenomena, Problems and Plans & Policies. List the first three to four ideas that come to mind under each column header. Pick a few items that strike you as interesting and create a sublist for each. Say under Things you listed “movies.” Create a new column entitled Movies and jot down what that word triggers: Academy Awards; prizes; lotteries; gambling. Before you know it, you’ve narrowed down your topic to gambling and deliver a speech about the causes of gambling addiction!

Online Topic Generator

If clustering doesn’t work for you, and you’re open to just about any topic, try using an online topic generator. Rate Speeches is an extremely easy site to use. Just press Generate Speech Topics and the site will generate a handful of random ideas! Take a peek below at some of the topics the site generated for me:

Each of these topics can lend themselves to interesting speeches! From writing about the cause of landslides to Indian wedding traditions, your possibilities are endless!

Brainstorm” by Nick Youngson is licensed by CC BY-SA 3.0.

One thought on “How to Choose a Speech Topic – Brainstorming Methods for the Novice Speechwriter

  1. Hi Heather –
    I’ve never thought of using an online topic generator… genius! Sometimes I feel like I just do not have something important enough or interesting enough to talk about (which I know isn’t true, just is a block) and I sit there for hours coming up with the most irrelevant things. A topic generator would have made my college career so much easier, too bad I’m done with public speaking classes!

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