SAMPLE INFORMATIVE SPEECH TOPICS


An informative speech frequently can be identified by its content, which often falls under one of these categories:

Confusion about informative speeches can arise because virtually every speech of any sort will inform the audience at some level about something. However, true informative speeches are a tool for conveying basic material at an introductory course level.

What follows is an alphabetical list of potential topic areas, including subtopics where applicable. This list is not meant to replace or contradict any topic guidelines given by your class instructor. When in doubt about a topic, please speak with your instructor to gain approval.


AGRICULTURE


Evolution of farm production technologies

History of domestication of animals

Organic and biodynamic farming


ANIMALS


Animal skills

Bats and echolocation

Best father in the animal kingdom

Best mother in the animal kingdom

Monogamy in the animal kingdom

What makes spider webs sticky?


Strange animals

Bioluminescent fish and animals

Creatures and their strange behavior (e.g. gastropods, march of the fire ants, emperor penguins)

Odd looking animals (e.g. naked mole rats)

Meet an animal (e.g. the Tibetan fox)

Value of parasites (e.g., remora)

Threats to an animal’s survival (e.g. the Tasmanian devil)


Human and Animals

Animal in life and art (e.g. Tasmanian devil)

Exotic animal as domestic pets (e.g. african serval, chinchillas, raccoons)

De-extinction

Feasibility of genetically engineering life (dangerous insects, plants, etc.)


Wild animals

Air sharks off Seal Island

Evidence for a living 40-foot shark

Likelihood of species survival in the wild (e.g. pandas)

Current efforts to save the next extinct species (e.g., elephants, big cats, gorillas)


ART


Art and science

History of fractal art

Scientific analysis of art


Unconventional art

Banksy’s graffiti art

3-D chalk art

Definition and examples of outsider art


CLOTHING


History of high-tech materials in electronics

Use of high-tech fibers in space exploration


COMMUNICATIONS


Frequency and implication of the use of long words versus short words

How to recognize common regional accents

Techniques for assessing the credibility of information on the Web

Cultures with unusual communication practices

Individuals with unusual communication histories (e.g. The story of Nell, Helen Keller)


DISASTERS


Avalanches

Predicting and preventing avalanches

Technologies for finding avalanche victims


Hurricanes

Improvements in hurricane forecasting

The Galveston hurricane

Flying a hurricane plane


Technological disasters

Role of weather in the sinking of the Titanic

Residual effects of the Chernobyl reactor meltdown

Three Mile Island chronology

Why submarines sink


Tornadoes and floods

Improvements in tornado prediction and advance warnings

State of flood prediction


Volcanoes

Threat posed by Cumbre Viejo

Discovery of supervolcanoes

Ring of fire around Seattle


ECONOMICS


Consumer products

Improvements in crib safety


Corporations

Effect of 3-D printing technology on manufacturing sector

Risks of investing in totalitarian economies (e.g., China, Russia)


Economic justice

Historical effects of income inequality around the world


Labor

Decline of labor unions in the last half century

Roots of labor unions

History and banning of child labor


Product History

How to make a product (e.g. wine, guitars)

History of a product or food (e.g. pizza, electric cars, escalators, mattresses)

Famous corporate rivalries (e.g. Coke versus Pepsi; Burger King versus McDonalds)


Stock market

Creation and evolution of the stock market


EDUCATION


Colleges and universities

History of hazing

Role of community colleges in higher education

The rise of the MOOC


K-12 education

Using smart phones on nature field trips

Green schools movement


Standardized Testing

Lessons from standardized testing in other Western countries


STEM education

Participation of girls in STEM education initiatives

Engineering for all: the maker movement and the Maker Faire

The Tinkering Studio at the San Francisco Exploratorium


ELECTIONS


Access to voting

U.S. turnout for local, state, and federal elections


Right to vote

History of expansion of the right to vote in the United States

Voting in another country


ENERGY


Using microbes to clean up oil spills

Prospects for green gasoline

State of solar energy technologies

Historic development of wind power

Producing plastic from waste methane


ENVIRONMENT


Changes in the environment

How to assess the weight of scientific evidence on climate change (and other significant scientific issues)

State of the permafrost worldwide

Changes in Amazon Basin weather patterns


Plants and animals

Definition and examples of invasive species (e.g., Asian carp, zebra mussels, West Nile virus, Dutch elm disease, brown marmorated stink bugs)

Flatulent cattle

Death of the sugar maples

The oldest tree in the world


Tectonic plates

Discovery of tectonic plates

History of continental drift


FOOD AND NUTRITION


How the tomato overcame its poisonous reputation

History of rooftop gardens


GAMES


Gambling

The MIT Blackjack team

Nonverbal tells in Poker


Games in education

Gamification movement in education


Video games

Video games and learning

Economics of online games


GOVERNMENT


Congress

How Framers of the Constitution felt about political parties

Evolution of lobbying industry


Executive Branch

Importance of the decennial U.S. Census required by the Constitution

Role of whistleblowers in a democracy

History of the presidential pardon process


HEALTH CARE


Drug addiction

Description, pervasiveness and treatment of a drug addiction (e.g. heroin, cocaine, crack, meth)


Treatments

Advent and future of exoskeletons in treating paralysis

Available treatments for Lyme disease

Research on cures for deafness and blindness


Vaccines

Reductions in childhood disease associated with vaccines


HOUSING


Historical and current patterns of geographic segregation

Introduction to Earthship housing

History of technologies to earthquake-proof buildings

Evolution of the “tiny house” movement


HUMAN RIGHTS


History of the suffragette movement in the United States

Effect of the Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner murders on the U.S. civil rights movement

The civil rights movement in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1960s


INFRASTRUCTURE


Highway system

Creation of the interstate highway system


INNOVATION


Lone inventors

Artistic and designer inventors (e.g. Walt Disney, John Lennon)

Product inventors (e.g. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg)


Specific innovations

New technology to deal with existing problems (e.g. Mine Kafon for landmine detection )


INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS


China

Opening the door to China

Level of Chinese exports to the United States

Chinese efforts to secure mineral rights around the world


Latin America

Building of the Panama Canal


Maritime law

Who owns the treasure in sunken ships?


JOURNALISM


Founding Fathers’ view of a free press

Snapshot of the free press in the electronic age

Sacrifices of war-zone journalists


LAW AND JUSTICE


Mapping crime using geography and mathematics

Historical discrepancies in sentencing for different populations


MAPS


History of maps

Role of maps in history


MATHEMATICS

Applications of math in real life

Pi Day


MEDICINE


Artificial Limbs

Evolution of orthopedic devices

Status of exoskeletons


Brain

Characteristics of autism

Lobotomies throughout the ages

Current understanding of memory paths and memory erasure

Brain-machine interfaces

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease

Synesthesia (e.g. smelling colors and seeing sound)

Capability of the brain to rewire itself after traumatic injury


Gene Sequencing

The discovery of DNA

Story of sequencing the human genome


Research on Cures

3-D printed implants

Current state of sleep research

Evolution of HIV/AIDS treatments

Story of the AIDS quilt

Significance of the ALS ice bucket challenge

Micro-targeted cancer cures

History and future of Ebola

Advent of medicated adhesive patches

Plant diversity and the development of medicines


MUSIC


Connections between music and the brain

Evolution and worldwide importance of reggae music

History of the electric guitar

Origins of hip-hop music

Objectives of the National Jukebox


NATIVE AMERICANS


Government compliance with treaties with Native American tribes


PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS


Families

The influence of sibling birth order on personality


Friends

Social media and friendship


Marriage

Long distance marriages

Odd marriages (e.g. the woman who married the Eiffel Tower, the man who married himself)

Research on longevity of marriage


RELIGION


Characteristics of a religious cult


SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY


Basic research

Value of basic research over time

History of time and clock research

Development and improvement of batteries

Potential impacts of 3-D printing


Citizens and Science

How to assess the weight of scientific evidence

Discoveries of individual citizen scientists

Advent and growth of citizen scientist research (e.g., supernovae, extraterrestrials, nature observations, Great Pacific Garbage Patch)


Computers and robotics

Plum Landings: getting kids moving with educational computer applications

Development and uses of snake robots

History of supercomputers

Status of research on cybercomputers


Weather Prediction

Role of ice cores in prediction models

Utility of weather forecasts at the neighborhood level


SPACE EXPLORATION


Discovery of planets outside of our solar system

Firefly satellites to investigate lightning and thunderstorms

Significance of viewing the Earth from space (unity, lights of commerce)

When galaxies collide

Current state of information on black holes


SPORTS AND ATHLETICS


Major professional sports

Historical timeline of the integration of major U.S. sports

Most memorable moment in sports [choose specific sport]


Other sports

Felix Baumgartner’s record-setting base jump from space

Definition and history of extreme games

History of surfing

History of wrestling

How to do a handspring

How to play disc golf


STRANGE AND SUPERNATURAL THINGS


Red sprites and blue jets

Paranormal activity

Principles of palmistry


TERRORISM


The bunker at the Greenbrier

Increase in doomsday prepping


TRANSPORTATION


Status of driverless car technology

The Blackbird and invisibility cloaks

History of electric cars

Uses for old tires


U.S. HISTORY


Evolution and effects of the Dust Bowl

Causes of the Civil War

Joshua Chamberlain at the Battle of Gettysburg

Evolution and importance of the Bill of Rights


VALUES AND ETHICS


Role of altruism in society

Institutions that teach and reinforce social values


WATER RESOURCES


Drinking Water

State of desalinization technologies

Potential of nanotechnology to clean up contaminated water


Oceans

Discovery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Search for evidence of rogue waves

State of coral reefs and their ecosystems

El Niño and La Niña

Exploration of the Marianas Trench and Challenger Deep

Increases in jellyfish blooms


WORLD HISTORY


Archeology

Discovery and analysis of the antikythera mechanism

The search for King Tut’s tomb


Specific historical events

Events and timeline of the Shackleton expedition