Selecting and Narrowing Topic

Select a Topic

You have to have a topic for your speech:

  • Pick a topic you know something about or want to know something about.
  • Not a good idea to pick a topic you are not interested in - you will not do a very good job.
  • Remember your audience - they have to listen to you! Andrew Dlugan in his Speech Preparation Series states "a successful speech is one where the audience receives the message."

Advice on selecting a speech topic, CLICK HERE.

To explore another topic selection helper, CLICK HERE.

Determine the Purpose of Your Speech

There are two types of purposes; a general purpose and a specific purpose:

General purpose:

The general purpose is one of three options:

  1. to inform: to share information with listeners by defining, describing, or explaining a thing, person, place, concept, process, or function,
  2. to persuade: to change or reinforce a listener's attitude, belief, value, or behavior,
  3. to entertain: to help listeners have a good time by getting them to relax, smile, and laugh.

For more information about general purposes and a chance to check what you have learned, CLICK HERE.

Specific Purpose:

The specific purpose requires two steps:

  1. identify a behavioral objective: what do you want your audience to do after your speech,
  2. formulate the specific purpose: a goal statement that focuses your speech on the audience.

More explanation on the topic of specific purposes can be found HERE.

Three guidelines for preparing your specific purpose:

  1. use words that refer to observable or measurable behavior,
  2. limit the specific purpose to a single idea,
  3. reflect the needs, interests, expectations, and level of knowledge of your audience.

Having a specific purpose will help keep you on track while preparing your speech.

Help in Finding a Topic


A prewriting technique consisting of writing ideas down on a sheet of paper around a central idea within a circle, with the related ideas radially joined to the circle using rays.


A prewriting technique in which the writer writes continuously for a set period of time without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic.

Concept map

A diagram showing the relationships among concepts, with the concepts drawn in rectangular boxes, which are connected with labelled arrows that denote the relationships between concepts, such as "is a," "gives rise to," "results in," "is required by," or "contributes to".