Picking a Topic

One of the toughest aspects of the Forensic season for Original Oratory comes right at the beginning – the time when Orators have to finalize their topic. Do not think of this is an overstatement. Choosing a topic for Oratory is quite difficult for many reasons. After looking in books and magazines, or simply thinking for hours, the tendency is to simply choose something and go with it. This is not only reckless, but any seasoned orator knows that this method of selection will quickly run into problems. Remember to relax. When a new year approaches every orator starts from scratch. There is no topic, no speech, and no performance. There is only opportunity and with that comes the daunting task of choosing a direction. In order to do this effectively, it is important to follow a 3-step approach, while avoiding certain topics altogether.

1. Eliminate areas of life that lack passion.

This may seem simple, but think about what narrowing down does. By eliminating areas of apathetic involvement (and thus most likely lacking in prior knowledge), the topic selection is dramatically refined. For instance, knowing that Oratory topics involving sports, biographies, or controversy are not to be considered means a speaker can focus on fields of interest they would like to pursue; automatically an orator has reduced the size of potential topics to contemplate. This can and will be extremely helpful; especially if new to the category. Further, writing an Original Oratory about a topic of zero interest usually results in a speech lacking heart and drive--and audiences can see that.

2. Choose areas of life with passion.

A speaker may come to the conclusion that their passion is virtues. They are disgusted that people lie. Or that people do not have manners and chivalry is dead, etc. Now an orator has something to work with. Working with a subject of interest has multiple benefits anyway. For starters, a topic is usually thought of faster when thinking about topics that get someone excited. When actually interested in a topic a person becomes invested and pours effort into their task, resulting in a better product. Further, when a speaker cares for and believes in their topic they are more likely to speak with conviction. All of these benefits lead to a better done speech audiences enjoy. After narrowing down topics of passion, an orator is now ready for the third and final step.

3. Of favorite topics, choose the best one for right now.

This is a critical stage because now a topic is chosen for use during an entire year. (Of course topics can be re-chosen and new speeches written if a topic does not work; it just means more time researching and writing and less time perfecting a speech’s delivery.) Selecting a topic is a big decision. The reason to choose the best topic for right now is that where a speaker is in life often dictates how meaningful something is to them. For instance, possible topic choices may have been narrowed to honesty and patience, but choose the topic that is most pertinent now. Ask what has been critical to most recent personal experiences. In addition, consider newsworthy events and decide whether or not there is a common moral theme between certain events; especially something which an audience can greatly learn from.

The above stated is a 3-step method for selecting a topic. These steps help to significantly reduce the number of potential topics, as well as lowering the stress involved in choosing a speech’s theme. But when choosing a topic it is also important to note that there are several universal topics which no one should use.

1. Stereotypes

Avoid this topic. Speakers may think they are being risky and grabbing attention, but the use of stereotypes only gain bad attention. Stereotypes can be seen as a cheap joke, low, or even hurtful. Regardless of how stereotypes are personally viewed, not everyone in the audience will agree. Ultimately, stereotypes in a speech are bound to result in offense.

2. Political Issues

This is one that may seem obvious, yet so many competitors chose to involve political matters. Do not choose any topic that slants toward a conservative or liberal side. This is the same as using a stereotype; eventually it is likely to offend or alienate someone. For instance, if the judge disagrees with the slant it might result in a lowered rank. And even if the judge does agree, most likely anything in the speech will not add to their opinion or knowledge. And this applies to more than just the topic. When writing the body of the speech avoid political slants. Speakers have everything to lose by offending audiences or by bringing no new information to the round.

3. Controversial Social Issues

Do not choose any topic that deals with abortion, gay marriage, global warming, environmentalism, etc. These are extremely touchy subjects and way too controversial for a Saturday morning. In addition, the goal of Oratory is to persuade. The chance of a controversial speech actually persuading someone on subjects of these depths in ten minutes is ludicrous. Besides, the audience probably already has a well-solidified viewpoint on these issues, and there is little that can be said in the allotted time to persuade them otherwise.

Selecting a great topic is a hefty decision that will help determine the future success of an Oratory. The topic influences how much energy a speaker puts into their speech. It also plays some role in peaking the interest level of an audience. By using the 3-step method to find issues to work with, while avoiding three possible killer categories of Original Oratory, a speaker is certain to find something spectacular. Think carefully and choose wisely for future Oratory success and happiness.