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Public Speaking: Planning Your Research

This guide provides links to materials for topics appropriate for speeches and debates.

Picking a Topic

The topic you select will depend on the purpose of your speech. For example, you might need to:

  • educate or inform your audience
  • pursuade your audience to agree with you
  • demonstrate a technique or process
  • debate a controversial issue
  • commemorate or pay tribute to a person, place, or event.

Supporting Your Points

Regardless of the final project, incorporating information from reliable sources will help make your speech stronger, more interesting, and more credible. The reference sources, periodicals, and web resources suggested in this guide are good places to gather research.

Using Background Readings for Research

Reference sources such as specialized encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks are good places to begin research on a topic.  These reliable sources will help make your speech stronger, more interesting and more credible.  Encyclopedia articles can provide:

  • background information, topic overviews and basic facts about a topic
  • definitions of related terms
  • and lists of additional sources and recommended readings.


Sources for Background Information