Topics to Avoid

32 replies [Last post]

At the beginning of every year, orators always ask the same question: "What topic should I choose this year?" While that question is difficult to answer, it may be easier to approach the subject from the opposite end - What topics should you avoid? For many different reasons, there are several topic areas that should never be brought in to the category of original oratory. In the following bullets, I will outline the topics that should never be used and why.

POLITICAL - Never, ever make an oratory topic about politics. Why? Well, for one cares. Take my views for example. I am a fiscal conservative and completely against social issues such as abortion. With that said, if you are with me, there is nothing that you need to hear from me because you already share my views. On the other hand, if you are liberal, there is nothing I can say in a ten minute speech that will change your views. If anything, I would just tick off a liberal by wasting their time. Either way, you won't score highly.

UNSOLVABLE ISSUES - I cant tell you how many lame speeches I have heard that were about solving hunger, having world peace and the worst of all...stereotypes. Let's be candid. Everyone of us stereotypes in one situation or another. For whatever reason, we all have boxes that we put people in. But we cant change that. It is passive and people are going to do whatever they want if they want to. Hence the category of unsolvable issues. In addition to being unsolvable, you sound ignorant if you think you can formulate a 10 minute blueprint for world peace.

CURRENT EVENTS - The whole point of drafting a speech is to have something that you can work with for an entire year. Current events should never be the topic or focal point of an oratory piece. Why? Well, if you were to pick something about animal cruelty last month and focused on the Vick case, great. The only problem is that in the month of august, that is already old news. Earlier today, Michael Jackson's death was ruled a homicide and by next month, that will be old news. Look back on the past few years and you hardly remember things like the Martha Stewart case. Although this may seem obvious, I have seen way too many orators make this mistake.

These are the three biggest areas to avoid. I'm sure there are others and use your responses to conjure debate...What do you think?

I especially like the bit about avoiding political issues. You are totally right. If someone has an opinion based on political/religious issues, it's fun to discuss the issues with open-minded people, but there is only a .0001% chance you can change their opinion.

I would also think one should avoid topics that everyone and their mom does. It gets old.

Yeah. And those overused topics are really obvious. Sometimes i question where everyone's creativity has gone

Anony's picture

where can i get a hold of this piece? it was awesome!

Anony's picture

GE spacemaker refrigerator

Anony's picture

Hello i recently became interested in this forum. Can some kind person tell me how to understand the site!

Hi!  Sure!  Soooooooo, there are a bunch of things you can do here.  Using the menu at the top-------

PERFORMANCES: tons of video performances you can view or comment on of speech and debate stuff.

TOURNAMENTS: post or view results and information from tournaments across the country (sometimes the world)

MEMBERS: just a list of current and new members if you're trying to find someone

TEAMS: make a page for your speech and debate team.  you and all other members on that team need to join this site, but once one you have a place to post news, updates, silly things, etcetera for your team.  it's kind of like an internet bulletin board and forum for your team.

LEAGUES: information about speech and debate leagues

SPEECH/DEBATE: main pages for all things related to those categories--listings of articles, blogs, videos, members labeled under the heading SPEECH or DEBATE

BLOGS: you have to have a username for the site to write one, but everyone is encouraged to write their own blog(s) about anything involving speech or debate.  like, advice or funny stories or ideas for things...whatever you can think of!  think of the use of blogs as this site's forums.  write something and get your friends to read it and have a discussion.  and some people who frequent this site might take part as well :)


soooooooo, that's all I've got.  Hope it helped!


Anony's picture

hi guys and girls were are you guys located at? I

Anony's picture

nice post!

Totally agree with avoiding unsolvable issues. At least as a big picture issue. However, if someone did an OO that offered a solution to a fraction of that big picture issue (something that branches off from it and could have a feasible solution), I would be interested in that!

I really want to do an OO on "How LOVE is taken out of context and used freely," but I'm extremely nervous because I don't know how people would react to it. Is it an okay topic to try or should I try something else?

supersunnycupcake, I think that can be a very interesting topic for an OO!! It also can easily be made to have lighthearted moments...which is always a nice thing.

If you can find resources that discuss the power of words and possibly how if a word is used too frequently for everything it diminishes its power (or something similar to that), you're good to go! I say run with it and see what you can create ^_^

I wish my ex could have heard this LOVE used to freely OO prior to him saying "I love you" a month into the relationship. Certainly put a damper on things!

So I'm an interper who is planning to switch from D.I. to O.O., and I was wondering what topics are really overused. I was planning on doing a piece on perfection, but I don't want to use an overused topic.


Honestly, I would try to look up on your league's website the winners in OO for the past couple of years (sometimes they list titles) so you can get an idea of what topics have been popular lately. You could also talk to your coaches, people who did OO last year, or even someone you know who judges. They could also give you an idea of what was used frequently in your league/area recently.

Also, you can do a topic that might have been done before provided you take it in a new direction. Like, perfection is such a general topic and can be branched off into specific themes. Perfection in what? School? Beauty? What sort of effects does the stress from trying to be perfect take on your body? Is there really such a thing as "perfect?"

LOTS of different approaches you can take to that subject to make it distinctly YOU!

I think that I will take it in a different direction. Thank you for your help!

I try and pick a topic that I am passionate about. For instance, I love to read, so I did one last year over how literacy affects people. It was something that made people think. And I don't agree entirely about the current issues. No, you shouldn't write a speech over that current issue, but it can be a starting point for a speech that uses multiple instances as examples.

I agree, this is a great strategy, Jessica, to pick a topic you are passionate about!

QUESTION: Would be Perfectionism a good topic?

RE: Vicky Ly,
I think that would be a really interesting topic. It is something accessible by everyone, can have gray areas to discuss, and could have some cool "consequences," good or bad to talk about. I would think of a good thesis to go with it (a solid, concise angle). Like, the struggle of trying to obtain perfection when it's not something that really can be reached?

I wanted to do a speech on how food is now treated as an item or decoration, instead of a necessity, would that be a good idea?

Don't know how often people are on this website nowadays, but I was curious--what do you think of doing an original oratory on the topic of the stigma behind mental illness? Is it something that's overdone, or something that's too risky/edgy to talk about?

I think you should follow your heart - if it's something that speaks to you and you can perform passionately on, go for it! Definitely, topically relevant to current events. Every topic carries an element of risk.

Kicking off the 2016 Forensics Season shortly here with lots of updates, stay tuned!! :)

I need help! Would "ways to improve math classes" be a good oratory topic?

@jasming You could go even broader and your topic a can be about education.

*can be about

As far as picking a broad or narrow topic, I think it really comes down to what works best for the OO. Too broad, and there isn't enough focus, there are too many possibilities to cover, and it can be too much. Too narrow, and you write yourself in a corner of "where do I take this" and "does anybody care about this one, tiny issue?"

I would probably stick with "ways to improve math classes" over "ways to improve education." There is so much that can be done with "education;" it needs a little more direction. Maybe "ways to improve math education?" It's broad enough, but with some direction? Ahhh, it's hard to say until research is done too! Research always helps me find a clear thesis.

Thank you! I wasn't sure if the topic was too broad.
One more question, I was looking up oratory formats and it said you prove the problem then provide a solution.
Instead, I was thinking of listing and explaining the three main issues with math classes and integrating the solution after proving each issue.
Would that be okay?
This is my first year doing forensics in case you couldn't tell, haha.


I'm a firm believer in doing whatever format works best for your piece and your speaking style. Essentially, what you want to do is a variation of a "standard" format anyway.

If you feel more comfortable writing an OO in the format you suggested, go for it. The "worst" that happens is that you need to revise your paper and put it in the more "standard" format later. Judges will tell you if they feel that your paper can be stronger and give suggestions as to how. You'll be revising that OO throughout the season anyway.

I will say that writing it in the way you want to (with the solution after each problem) might seem formulaic and become repetitive to the audience (you're doing the "problem-->solution" bit three times in a row). It's an okay format, but that might be an issue you run into.

HOWEVER, as I said earlier, if you're more comfortable with that style, start with it. It's your first season, so you will be at novice competitions and there to learn the event and get confident. It's okay to start with what feels comfortable to you, and then evolve. In fact, evolving is necessary in forensics!

Best of luck this season! I hope you love it!

I think that saying that no one cares about politics is more opinion based, so that recommendation is completely opinion and experience based. I was on the debate team and we talked about should direct popular vote replace the electoral vote in presidential elections. Nobody in the audience, or anyone who was debating the subject said or showed any sign of not caring about that.

Also, I was thinking that one of the topics that I should do for the forensics thingie is "Teachers should be paid more, and professional athletes should be paid less"

Post reply