HOW TO SELECT A TOPIC FOR A PERSUASIVE SPEECH

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Determining the Specific Purpose

Formulating a specific purpose is the most important early step in developing a successful speech. Once you have chosen a topic and a general purpose, you narrow your choices to determine the specific purpose of your speech. The specific purpose should focus on ONE aspect of a topic. The specific purpose limits the topic to one that can be covered adequately in a speech that has a predetermined, reasonable time limit.

A specific purpose statement is a single phrase that states precisely what a speaker hopes to accomplish in his or her speech. Begin the specific purpose statement with an infinitive. What is an infinitive? An infinitive is a verb with the word “to” in front of it. Examples of infinitives that might be used to start a specific purpose statement are:

to explain, to tell, to show, to demonstrate, to persuade, to entertain, to prove, to convince, to inform, to inspire, to introduce, to present, to accept, to pay tribute. Next, include a reference to your audience. For example, to explain to my audience, to persuade my listeners.

Always remember to limit the specific purpose statement to one major idea, and make your statement as precise as possible. Make sure you can achieve your purpose in the time allotted for your speech.

Finally, keep your statement simple. Don’t be too technical, and always bear these requirements for writing a good specific purpose in mind when writing your speech:

  • it should contain one main idea
  • it should be a complete sentence
  • it should be clear and concise
  • it should be worded as a statement, not as a question
  • it should be worded in terms of the audience response you want at the end of the speech.

Paraphrasing the Central Idea

Paraphrasing is the process of restating information in different words. When we paraphrase, we maintain the original meaning, but we say it in our own words. Paraphrasing is an active learning strategy which helps us place information into long-term memory as we move from an understanding level to an active comprehension level. Good paraphrasing skills are necessary to create effective speeches, prepare for tests, answer essay test questions, and avoid plagiarism when researching reports. Paraphrasing includes:

  • Replacing difficult vocabulary words or phrases with words the student understands
  • Rewriting lengthy or complex sentences into simpler sentences, or combining simple sentences into more interesting, complex sentences
  • Explaining concepts and abstract ideas from sentences or passages using more clear and concise wording
  • Translating ideas and information into students’ own words

Problems with underlying language-processing skills make paraphrasing especially difficult for students with language-based learning disabilities. Weaknesses, particularly at the semantic (word), syntactic (sentence), and discourse (paragraph) levels, minimize the ability to “play” with words.

Limited vocabulary and ability to construct complex sentences make it difficult for students to come up with a “different way of saying things” in their own words.

Tips for Successful Paraphrasing

  1. Understand the context of what you are paraphrasing: Read the whole sentence or several sentences of the speech to have at least a general understanding of the context in which words are being used. Make sure that the synonyms you use in your paraphrased version do not change the meaning of the passage.
  1. Use “semantic” paraphrasing: Use a thesaurus and/or your own knowledge to replace words in the passage with accurate synonyms. Be sure to check the part of speech of the word you are replacing. How a synonym is used can change the meaning of the word or sentence.
  1. Use “syntactic” paraphrasing: In addition to replacing key words, change the structure of the original sentences by either inverting the order of sentence parts, breaking them into shorter sentences, or combining simple sentences into compound and complex sentences.
  1. Rewrite the paraphrased version: Combine the various changes noted above and rewrite the passage in your own words. The most important thing for you to learn in this section is how to arrive at the main points for your speech. Once again, it is only by practising that you will learn this technique

CONCLUSION

This article has exposed you to the necessary techniques of selecting a topic and purpose for your speech. It is very important for you to attempt the exercises and assignments, as they will help to improve your speech writing skills tremendously.

 

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