I enjoy my job, generally speaking. Much of my time is spent listening to students speaking about the things that matter to them. In all, I’ve sat through thousands of student speeches.
If I’m lucky, the speeches are interesting and intriguing. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. I’ve noticed this particularly when it comes to informative speech topics.
Too many informative speech topics are redundant, unspecified, insignificant, or irrelevant to most of the audience members. I have strong feelings about this as someone who’s had to listen to countless hours of these speeches.
A poor informative speech topic wastes everybody’s time. I’ve singled out three in particular that keep coming up in my classes. Each of these demonstrate common pitfalls when it comes to selecting an informative speech topic.
I’ll try to explain why each topic doesn’t work well in addition to providing some alternative suggestions. Here are my three least desirable informative speech topics:
Undesirable topic #1: Stress, the effects of stress, why stress is harmful, how to reduce stress, etc.
Why you should avoid this: Most people in the 21st century know that stress is bad and that we should manage stress better. You’re probably not going to break new ground if you decide to go with this topic.
Alternative topic ideas: Transcendental meditation, nutritional supplements for stress relief, mental benefits of being in nature, aromatherapy, or hiking for stress relief. These topics are more specific and nuanced than the previous topics.
Undesirable topic #2: Sleep, the importance of getting enough sleep, dreaming, etc.
Why you should avoid this: We already know that sleep is important and that we should all aim for 7-8 hours of sleep. Tell us something we don’t know!
Alternative topic ideas: Lucid dreaming, dangers of sleep apnea, healthy sleep habits, or common sleep disorders. Again, these are more specific and targeted topics.
Undesirable topic #3: Hybrid cars, electric cars, and self-driving cars.
Why you should avoid this: These topics are just too common. The audience has already heard plenty about hybrid cars and the like. Also, hybrid, electric, and even self-driving cars just aren’t as newsworthy as they once were.
Alternative topic ideas: Space tourism, drone technology, high speed railways, or advances in dashboard technology.
What kind of informative speech topic should you choose?
Pick something fresh, exciting and new. Focus on what's currently emerging. Maybe there's something not a lot of people know about. Perhaps you can find a new angle on a common subject. Get as narrow and specific as you can while retaining substance.
In any case, find something unique and different rather than the same old informative speech topics. Search through popular journals like Popular Mechanics, Scientific American, or National Geographic for ideas. Please don’t resort to googling “informative speech topics”. I’ve probably heard all those before; and so has your professor.
Above all, avoid cliché topics such as the ones in this post. Hopefully these reminders help you in the development of your next speech.
Good luck finding a suitable informative speech topic!