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Interesting speech topics for students

180 speech topic ideas from 5 broad areas   

By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 11-10-2021

What are the most interesting speech topics for students?  How, and where do you find them?

Let's answer those questions, and more.

On this page you'll find:

  1. What makes a speech topic interesting: 3 essential elements
  2. 180 speech topic examples from 5 broad areas
    1. Social media - 50 social media themed speech topics
    2. Visiting yesterday - 45 interesting historical speech topics focused on family and community
    3. Just plain weird - 61 speech topic suggestions focusing on the oddities and weirdness of the world and its inhabitants
    4. Trading places - 5 topics looking at life from the perspective of someone else
    5. What were the beginnings or the origins of...? 19 topics on the development of cultural customs, festivals, holy days etc.
  3. How to get better grades for your speech
  4. How to get started on your speech
  5. Where to find even more interesting speech topic ideas!

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So what are GOOD original speech ideas?

3 essential elements of interesting speeches

Image: retro drawing of puzzled girl thinking. Text: What's an interesting speech topic? Comical novels? Cats? The history of chocolate?

Interesting speech topics are principally a combination of three essential ingredients:

  1. your personal enthusiasm for the subject you've chosen,
  2. the subject's appeal or relevance to your audience, and
  3. the twist, angle, or perspective you bring to the topic.

If the subject you choose ticks off all three your speech is much more likely to be interesting for yourself and everybody listening to you.

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Put your spin on these interesting speech topics

The five areas below are broad. I have suggested some potentially good topics in each. You'll find them under the  area's introductory overview.

Use my suggestions as a beginning point: a trigger to get your own creative juices going. With luck you'll find exactly the topic you need to inspire you. (I hope so.)

Social media themed topics

Online social media like Facebook (recently re-branded as Meta Platforms), Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Tik Tok have been with us a comparatively short time. Yet their growth has been astronomical!

Facebook, the first of them, made its public debut in 2004, 17 years ago, and according to its Wikipedia page, has 2.85 billion monthly active users, as of 31 March 2021.  Its use as a vehicle to reach people all over the world is extraordinary. The power and influence Facebook users have been able to exert is unparalleled. As a society we've never seen this before.

Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Whatsapp and Tik Tok although newer players share, to a lesser degree, similar capacities.

Older electronic media, TV and radio, couldn't reach into the personal private lives in the same intimate one to one, person to person way. Neither could print.

What do these changes mean for society?  What will happen to old-fashioned face-to-face communication skills?

Look over these topics carefully. Ask yourself what aspects of them you'd find interesting to explore.

Our increasing reliance on varying forms of online communication is new and our scientists, psychologists, and doctors are only beginning to understand its impact on our behavior.

Image: young girl with badge showing Facebook thumbs up icon on her tee-shirt. Background text: Please like me, please like me, please like me...

50 interesting social media speech topics

  1. Social media kills face to face conversation skills.
  2. Texting is necessary for social survival.
  3. An online friend can be just as real as an offline one.
  4. Social media breaks down real-time relationships.
  5. How did people build and maintain networks BEFORE  social media?
  6. What is the real value of social media? Three points.
  7. How to avoid being cyber bullied.
  8. Rules for forming online friendships.
  9. Spelling skills are dead. Long live txt speak!
  10. What will be the next major social media development?
  11. Rules for using social media responsibly.
  12. Publicly "liking" or "not liking" a person's posts can cause anxiety.
  13. What is real news and what is false? How do you know?
  14. Three excellent community building uses of social media.
  15. Social media is addictive.
  16. Social media encourages and supports racialism.
  17. Social media companies are not responsible for how people use them.
  18. Social media dissolves social, economic and cultural barriers.
  19. How private is personal information on social media?
  20. Fake personas and social media.
  21. There is not enough fact checking on social media.
  22. It is too easy to post without thinking on social media.
  23. There is too much content on social media. It overwhelms.
  24. What is the impact of social media on business?
  25. Having an opinion does not make a person an expert.
  26. Social media makes it easy to help someone immediately.
  27. Social media brings people with similar interests together.
  28. Social media encourages the need for instant gratification.
  29. Some social media challenges should never be accepted.
  30. There should be an user age limit on social media platforms.
  31. Getting news from social media is unreliable.
  32. Censorship is impossible on social media.
  33. How do politicians use social media?
  34. What is a social media echo chamber?
  35. How can social media undermine democracy?
  36. Social media can be, and is, used for mass surveillance.
  37. Social media can be a time waster.
  38. Social media makes people dissatisfied with their lives.
  39. The rise of cancel culture: what it is, how it works.
  40. Why people share things they shouldn't.
  41. How using emoticons is replacing using words.
  42. How social media is used in hiring and firing people.
  43. How social media stunts personal creativity.
  44. How social media allows a person to find their voice.
  45. Using social media improves fine motor skills.
  46. How social media is used in peer-support programs.
  47. Should social media companies be held accountable? 
  48. What is the impact of not being social media?
  49. How to become an influencer.
  50. Outline the main differences between two or three social media platforms.

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Visiting yesterday: historical speech topics

The importance of history is frequently debated. Those against digging around in their own or anybody else's past often use the saying "Life is best lived looking forward" to explain their stance. What they want to avoid is becoming stuck in history, bogged down by old traditions or beliefs that inhibit a person in some way. "That was then, this is now", they say.

Crimes against humanity: ethnic cleansing, genocide, state terrorism, racial discrimination, and religious persecution are all examples of events people often want to leave in the past. The main reason is because untangling them, acknowledging and accepting responsibility where required, and finding an equitable way to move forward can be exceedingly difficult for all concerned.

And yet, if we don't examine and learn from the past, surely we'll do similar things over and over again.

Those who believe that understanding and knowing our history is important say, to use the words of Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, that "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."

They argue that to know who we are, what we are doing, where we are going, and how our actions may impact on other people, other communities, countries or the world we need to thoroughly understand our past. That means looking carefully at the lives and times of our ancestors. 

I believe understanding our "yesterdays" helps us build better "todays" - richer futures for everyone. 

Attitudes change and as they do, so too does what society accepts as "normal". 

A brief shorts story

To illustrate here's a simple and these days, non-controversial example. 

Something as ordinary as a woman wearing shorts was quite extraordinary in the 1940s.  Women who wore them were considered fast: very unladylike.  And some American city councils actually went so far as to ban women from wearing them in public.  (In my family, my Grandmother was forbidden to leave the house in them.)

Can you imagine what life would be like for women if we'd held on to that? Today we have moved on. A woman wearing a pair of shorts is no longer a crime or a disgrace.*

(Click this National Public Radio link When wearing shorts was taboo to find out more.)

*I am fortunate to live in a country where women are free to wear what they choose. However there are many places in the world where they are not. This 2020 study from Washington Pew Research Center is interesting reading: Women in many countries face harassment for clothing deemed too religious – or too secular.

Family focused and community speech topics

The topics here are focused around the history of family and community life.

Dive into them and you may just find them compelling - really interesting. They'll give you new insights and maybe, an appreciation, of what went before, and what you have now. 

Image-retro 1950s-children crossing the road going to school. Text: Historical Myths Number 63 - School days! The happiest days of your life!

45 interesting historical speech topics

  1. What Grandma/Grandpa did for fun and recreation 50 years ago.
  2. What Grandma/Grandpa did to earn a living when they finished their schooling.
  3. At the same age as I am now my parents were doing XXX and my grandparents were doing XXX (compare and contrast across 3 generations).
  4. Were there differences between education for boys and for girls 50 + years ago? If so, what were they? 
  5. Our town's history - why it was built where it is, who lived there.
  6. What type of jobs did men and women typically do 50+ years ago?
  7. The biggest manmade or natural disaster in our local history.
  8. Headline stories from our local newspapers 50+ years ago.
  9. How festivals and important events (birthdays, weddings, Christmas, Easter...) were celebrated in my family many years ago.
  10. Food fads or food fashions - how have they changed over the years? TV dinner anyone? What about a smoothie?
  11. Prepare a typical 1950s desert as a demonstration speech.
  12. How has food preparation changed over the last 25 years?
  13. Check out the family photographs. How has clothing changed through the years? For babies? For girls? For boys? For adults?
  14. Ask your grandparents about what household chores they did on a regular basis. How does that compare with what you do?
  15. Did your grandparents get an allowance? If so, how much was it, and what did they do with it?
  16. What are differences between the house or apartment that your grandparents grew up in and the one you live in?
  17. What household items held pride of place 50+ years ago?  
  18. The history of my first and last name - where it came from, what it means and how it's changed over the years.
  19. A walk through a typical 1950s/1960s/1970s school day. Were they really "the best days of our lives"?
  20. How has classroom discipline changed over the last 100 years?
  21. How have the subjects taught in schools changed over the last 50+ years?
  22. What school activities and sports were common 50+ years ago? 
  23. Word fashion (the current slang) - what's in, what's out. Examples from bygone eras and present day.
  24. The origin of local place names - how places get their names, why they stick, or change.
  25. What jobs are no longer needed in your area because of modern technology?
  26. How has going shopping changed over the last 3 decades?
  27. Have attitudes around money and possessions changed over the last 50 + years in your community?  
  28. How did the area you live in cope with the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic? How does that compare with the current Covid Pandemic?
  29. What is the predominant cultural background of the community you live in?
  30. What languages are part of the linguistic history of your area? In what ways are they seen and heard today?
  31. What traditions have been passed down the generations in your family or community?
  32. What service organizations were active in the community 50 + years ago? What did they do? How did they help?
  33. What religions were practiced in your community 50 + years ago?  Has that changed? How?
  34. What were attitudes in your community towards people who were seen as 'different' 50 + years ago?
  35. What were the most common ways of meeting new people and socializing 50 + years ago in your community?
  36. Tell the history of an local historic building or monument. 
  37. What was the latest music 20/50/100 years ago?
  38. What were the biggest social issues 50 + years ago in your area? Have things changed?
  39. How have historical events directly affected your family and community?
  40. What were the commonest methods of transport 50 + years ago in the area. What changes have there been?
  41. Tell the story of a local character or hero.
  42. What were the major natural features of the landscape in your area before towns and cities were built?
  43. What were the native animals, birds, trees and other plants in the area  a long time ago? Has that changed? 
  44. How have people changed the local natural landscape? For better? Or for worse? 
  45. This day in history - a slice of major events from around the world for the date you are giving your speech.

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Just plain weird: unusual speech topics

Things, natural or man-made, are often labeled weird or strange because we have never seen, considered or experienced them before. These "new" things become objects of fascination triggering responses varying from awe to disgust. Either way, "good" or "bad" weird jolts a person out their accepted ordinary/normal world, challenging them to consider something different.

Weird things, old and new, can be really interesting and stimulating!

Image: tiger-budgie Text: 100% pure weird

61 weird speech topic suggestions

Quirky clothing/body adornment fashions: some very old, some much newer!

Show and tell the story behind:

  1. powdered wigs - why men and women wore them
  2. bustles - Why did women wear especially shaped padding (bustles) to hold out their skirts at the back?
  3. crinolines - Why would a woman want to wear a steel-hooped cage under her dress?
  4. panniers - Why did women in the 18th century broaden their skirts at the sides with panniers? 
  5. chopines - The first platform shoes, popular in 16th & 17th century. Were they worn to avoid the dirt in the streets or for prestige?
  6. lotus shoes - tiny jeweled slippers to fit the bound feet of Chinese women. Find out more: The consequence of foot binding
  7. cod pieces - a male garment originally worn to conceal and protect genitals dating from the 15th century that became something so much more  
  8. corsets - a garment worn by men and women to support and shape the body. In the 19th century their wide-spread use by women caused them major health issues.
  9. bombasts - a 16th century practice of wearing padded clothing to enhance/exaggerate the body's natural shape
  10. the cockade - a symbol of freedom - originally worn by French soldiers
  11. ruffs - a detachable collar that grew larger and more elaborate
  12. winkle picker shoes - Who were the men who wore them?  The history of winkle pickers 
  13. body piercings - the different types of piercings, and their origin
  14. tattoos -trace its history across cultures, its meanings, the wide spread use of tattoos, how to remove a tattoo
  15. statement jewelry - the history of jewelry to show status  - wedding rings, engagement rings, crowns, chains of office, the use of precious stones

Are they hoarders or collectors?
Why do some people collect things like: unopened bottles of coca cola, album covers, newspapers, playing cards, cigarette packets, menus, garden ornaments, old pens, comics, paper table napkins, autographs, branded memorabilia eg. McDonalds happy toys, Barbie dolls, hair clips, salt and pepper shakers ...

Find out. Do an interview. Take some photos.

Weird beliefs - research and present one or two beliefs you find the strangest.
Who believed them? When were they believed? Where? What country? Can you explain the reason why? 

  1. that cigarettes were good for health
  2. that the earth was flat and you could fall off its edge
  3. that trains went so fast they literally rattled people's brains, making them insane
  4. that washing hands before surgery was unnecessary
  5. that some races and cultures are superior to others
  6. that eugenics (controlled breeding in humans) is an acceptable way to eliminate inheritable characteristics seen as undesirable 
  7. that disease was spread by smell
  8. that the sun was the center of the universe
  9. that seatbelts in cars were unnecessary
  10. that a woman's role in life is to make her husband happy

Very strange animals, birds, fish or insects - what are the weirdest, where do they live, what do they eat? 

Here's ten remarkable creatures to get you started.

  1. axolotls (Mexican Walking Fish)
  2. flightless cormorants
  3. long wattled umbrella birds
  4. lyre birds
  5. assassin bugs
  6. stick insects
  7. platypus
  8. pangolin
  9. shoebill storks
  10. sun bears

Weird inventions - What was it? Who invented it? When, where and why?

Some inventions are truly weird. They were when they were thought up and made, and they still are now. Others were thought weird at first but today are regarded as impossible to live without. 

Investigate any of these:

  1. The bicycle - It was considered a dangerous fad.
  2. Talkies - talking in the movies. That was thought a gimmick.
  3. Mono-wheeled motorbikes
  4. Automobiles
  5. The saluting device for perfect salutations
  6. The hug me pillow and other clever devices, like hairy stockings
  7. Electric lamps or light bulbs
  8. Television
  9. Personal computers
  10. Vaccinations

Strange sports: where are they played, when, by whom, and how. For example:

  1. wife carrying
  2. egg and cheese rolling (two separate sports)
  3. curling
  4. zorbing
  5. parkour

(The oddness of a sport is often a matter of perspective. If you've never heard of it, or seen it played before, then it may seem weird to you. However to the people involved, either as participants or observers, the sport is accepted as normal, frequently without question.)  

More weird topic possibilities
  1. Fact or fiction? Choose an interesting true story to retell that seems unbelievable.
  2. Trivia: little bits of often useless information. Why does it fascinate? 
  3. Research and present little known awe inspiring facts about the functioning of our bodies. 
  4. Urban myths - what are they, examples, how are they spread and why are they believed?
  5. Weird people. Find out about famous eccentrics: people who have decided to live life on their own terms. 
  6. Why do records like the largest man in the world, the longest fingernails, or the greatest number of pies eaten in an hour fascinate people?
  7. How many other people share your name? Where are they in the world and what do they do?
  8. Weird coincidences - Is it fate, the super-natural at work, or is it really a series of freak coincidences? 
  9. Weird professions - passed and present. For example being employed as a rat catcher, chimney sweep, mud lark, lamp lighter, bicycle courier, doula, video game tester, mobile app developer 
  10. Weird buildings - For example, the basket building in USA,  the egg shaped office building in India, or the bubble house in France.

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Trading places

Image: vintage drawing of a man swinging from a rope upside down. Text: Good life lessons - getting a different perspective, looking from another angle.

Age old wisdom says there would be fewer misunderstandings and arguments if we learned to see the world from the each others perspectives. We would be less quick to judge, more tolerant and more understanding if we saw and felt how it was to walk in the shoes of another person.

Looking from a different perspective broadens and deepens our thinking.

The 5 topic suggestions below span personal through to major world events. Ask yourself, how would it be if I was there or, if this person was me? What would I think? What would I feel?

5 from another perspective speech topics 

  1. In XXX {insert the name of a country eg Japan, Samoa, Chile} in XXX {insert the year or century eg the 19th century} a day in the life of a person my age would be ...

  2. A day in my Mother's/Father's life at the same age I am now. Where did your parents live? Town or country? In a house or an apartment? How did they get to school? What did they study? What chores did they have to do daily?
     
  3. Retell an historical event as if you were there and part of it. Choose an event you find interesting eg. the fall of the Berlin Wall, granting women the right to vote, the death of Martin Luther King ...

  4. Tell how a major invention or medical break-through changed lives as if you were there. Eg. the development of the smart phone, bionic prosthesis, laser surgery ...
     
  5. If I was {insert a word of your choice - eg. homeless, physically disabled in some way - blind, deaf, reliant on a mobility scooter ...} my experience of the world would be changed. How? What issues would you face? How would you meet them?

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What were the beginnings or the origins of...?

There is a story behind everything and some of them are really interesting!

For instance the Christmas tradition of kissing under mistletoe (a plant that grows on trees) dates way back to the time of the Druids who thought it had mystical powers. It was supposed to bring good luck and keep evil spirits away.

In Norse mythology it signified love and friendship, hence the kissing! And, dear reader, of course there is more to find out. Enough to prepare an interesting, entertaining speech.

The same applies to all the other topic suggestions below.

Image: traditional Xmas card. Text: Christmas traditions: carols, food, presents, trees ...

19 speech topics exploring origins

  1. Christmas celebrations or any aspect of them eg. cards, carols, gift giving, special food ...
  2. Easter celebrations (or any other widely observed customary celebration)
  3. Table manners or eating etiquette. How do "good" table manners vary from culture to culture? Why were they developed in the first place? 
  4. Common sayings eg. "to be born with a silver spoon in one's mouth" or "the salt of the earth"
  5. Types of music eg. rock and roll, jazz, hip hop ...
  6. Types of art eg. folk art, sculpture, pottery, theater ...
  7. Postal stamps or money
  8. Softball, grid iron or any other sport
  9. The current governmental system
  10. Zodiac signs
  11. Beauty Queen pageants
  12. Modern warfare
  13. Education - schooling in your country or your area
  14. Card or board games 
  15. Advertising
  16. Television soaps. What's the story behind those long running TV serials?
  17. Print - books, newspapers
  18. Journalism - where did it start?
  19. Language - how does it develop?

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Avoiding the procrastination trap

The time is now! 

Having looked through all these potentially good speech topics please don't fall into the procrastination trap!

Tomorrow - (definition) - When everything finally gets done. Eg. I'll do this speech tomorrow!

Make yourself a short list of at least three possibilities and thinking about your audience, the main purpose of your speech and your personal interest or enthusiasm for each of them, whittle your list down to the best one.

Points you'll want to consider as part of your decision making are:

  • the time you have to prepare your speech
  • how much you know about the topic already. Do you need to do lots of research, or some? Is the research easy to do?
  • the angle you intend to use - is it persuasive, informative, humorous, unconventional, potentially shocking or upsetting, quirky? How does that fit with your audience's needs and if your speech is for a classroom assignment, the guidelines you have been given?

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More places to find interesting speech topics

If you really are stuck for a topic that resonates with you check these sources out.

  • newspapers
  • magazines for specialist opinion pieces
  • the top news sites, blogs - for commentary on political events, natural disasters, social issues
  • radio - community, country and world news plus commentary and analysis
  • television for documentaries and indepth reportage
  • bulletin boards in your own community - for current topical events eg a meeting to discuss the implication of closing the local mine or the impact of raising the cost of public transport
  • your family and friends
  • Listening to the conversations around you and observing closely what you see.
  • This site! Click this link - speech topics - to find many more pages full of interesting speech ideas.

How to get better grades for your speech

What does your teacher long to hear?

I taught high-school level English for many years and over that time listened to hundreds of speeches.

Those students I gave an A grade to got them because their:

  • topic was interesting. They'd either found an original angle to present known material or found a "new" topic.
  • speech was tailored for the audience. It was relevant to them and personalized.
  • presentation was well structured. It had a good opening, body and conclusion.
  • delivery had been rehearsed. They knew their speech. The use of props or additional material was appropriate and well integrated into the flow of the speech.
  • audience listened and enjoyed what they heard.

You are welcome to use my speech evaluation checklist as a guide to help you prepare an A grade speech of your own.

To prepare, structure & deliver your speech use these pages:

  • how to write a speech 
    You'll find full explanations and examples of the step by step process needed to get you safely from choosing your topic to presenting the speech itself.
  • voice image 
    Did you know your voice is an important part of giving your speech? The quality of your voice can make the difference between being listened to and not. Go to the voice image page. Read and follow the links to find out how you can optimize your vocal delivery.
  • vocal variety
    Use tone, pitch, pause and pace to deliver your speech effectively. An interesting speech topic is a great start. It would be shame to waste it and the work you've done through weak delivery!