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KATHRYN A. MARTIN LIBRARY

COMM 1112: Public Speaking NEW

Choosing a Speech Topic

Deciding on a topic can be the hardest part about starting to research for a speech. Here are a some tips to choosing a topic:

Research Image

Choose a topic of interest and that fits your speech assignment. It can be very difficult to speak about an uninteresting topic. Be compelled by your topic!

Start with background information that can be found via Google Searches, Wikipedia and other easy searches.  Use these searches to create lists of keywords, organizations, historic events, legislation and other information.

Don't ever stop at just your first searches and sources found online! There are so many other resources available, such as UMD Library catalog and our giant collection of Resource Databases.

Get expert advice from your UMD Librarians on search strategy, resource selection and citation. We make it easy to Ask Us via email, chat, phone and by appointments.

Selecting Keywords

Formulate your research question and write it down.  Let's use the example: "What are the advantages and disadvantages of driving a hybrid car?"
Break your research question into key concepts looking for the "who, what, where, why, and how"  For example, we've broken down parts:

  • Benefits, disadvantages, opportunities, advantages options
  • Hybrid car, electric vehicle, Toyota Prius, Chevy Volt
  • Synonyms can include: Alternative fuels sources, fuel economy, greenhouse gases, horsepower, electric, plug-ins, braking, ethanol, hybrid

Consider synonyms. For example, you could use global warming, climate change, or greenhouse effect

Before using any of the great Library Databases, start by doing a simple Google or Wikipedia search for more information. Often these free resources can supplement the keywords you have already brainstormed.

Too Many Results? Try Narrowing Your Search by:

  • Time period
  • Location
  • Specific aspect or event

Not Enough Results? Try Expanding Your Search by:

  • Search for related issues or industries
  • Try additional keywords

Additional Tips

  • Keep in mind, some topics are so new (especially current events), you may not be able to find many books, so you might want to look at newspapers or periodicals. You might be on the cutting edge or research!
  • UMD employs Library Specialists who are masters of searching information and content... and they love working with students! You can chat, email, call, set-up appointments with them via our ASK-US Research Service or you can reach out to a specific Subject Librarian.