The good news is that no, you don't have to take a Public Speaking class to learn the inn's and out's of rhetoric, since you've likely been using it - in many of its dimensions - throughout your whole life!
Don't believe me? Let's take an easy example then...
A teenage girl is trying to convince her mom to get her a cellphone, so she goes one of three routes (either until her mom gives in, or she's forced to back-off and retry a week down the line!)
Option One: Appeal to Logic. This is known as logos and sounds like this: "Mom, statistics prove that children with cellphones are generally safer!"
Option Two: Appeal to the Emotions. This is known as pathosand sound like this: "Mom, all my friends have cellphones and I feel stupid without one!"
Looking for a debatable topic? Maybe you've got an argumentative essay or some sort of persuasive speech coming up and you need a topic that'll give you the edge you need. Well this section of the site has a huge list of persuasive topics for speeches or essays. So let me help you convince the audience...
The art of persuasion is as old as the pyramids themselves and has always been an interest of anyone with a strong opinion, throughout history! In fact, some of the Greek smarter-than-thou's of ancient times, like Aristotle, devoted much of their lives and work to what we today know as rhetoric - The art of persuasion.
Option Three: Appeal to Character. This is known as ethos and sounds like this: "Mom, you know I've been getting good grades for the past two semesters, I think I deserve a cellphone as reward!"
And there you have all three main & basic elements (ethos, pathos and logos) of what Aristotle called the cornerstones of Rhetoric (It's true; I just simplified 60 chapters of ancient Greek philosophy for you into an analogy with a teenager and a Blackberry).
Click on the links above to read more on these specific elements of persuasion and how you can incorporate them into your speeches/essays.
Now on to the topics...
List of 50 Persuasive Topics for Speeches or Essays
The list below contains 50 persuasive topics that should give you a good start for creating speeches or essays with a debatable angle. This list is only Part 1 of 4, see the articles on Logos, Pathos & Ethos for many more Persuasive Topics.
Repeal the Endangered Species Act
Oil Drilling in the Arctic
Extermination of Wolves in Yellowstone
Off-shore Drilling is Essential
Nuclear Energy is Safe
Allow Drilling in National Parks
Drain Everglades for Development
Make Zoos Illegal
Importance of Loss of Biodiversity
Cost Effectiveness of Switching Homes to Alternative Energy
Forced Sterilization of Pets
Stricter Regulation of Natural Gas Wells
Restrict Personal Vehicles in National Parks
Commercialization of National Parks
Non-native Reptile Ownership Illegal
Require Xeric Plantscapes in Drought Areas
Shoot Problem Wildlife in Urban Areas
Should Endangered Animal Stop Development
Repeal Clean Air Act
Monetary Incentives for Bicycle Commuting
Feasibility of Wind Energy
UN Require Countries to Mitigate Deforestation
Develop More Hydro-Electric Dams
Eliminate Wild Horse Herds
Foreign Policy (15)
American Adopt an Isolationist Policy
Recognize a Palestinian State
Shiria Law Allowable in US
Allow Iran to Have Nuclear Weapons
Open Antarctica to Exploratory Drilling
Abolish the Euro Zone
Benefits of Sweat Shops
Forced Sterilization in Over-populated Countries
Is Fair Trade Fair?
No American Peace Keeping Forces
Stop Loaning Money to Arm Suppliers Countries
Can We Wage War on Terrorism?
Stop Loaning Money to Counties with Child Marriage
Create World Food Bank