When I design classes,
I like to start with the skills we're going to work on and
then I try to build the assignment around that.
So I want to talk a little bit about the assignment that's
going to drive this course, the persuasive speech.
It's a 5-10 minute speech.
But why should you be doing the speech?
Well, I would say getting better public speaking calls for practice,
and this assignment allows you to refine your skills in a targeted way.
So each lesson in this class is designed to help you improve some specific skill.
But you're going to get 10 times more out of this class,
if you're working on the assignment.
Why? Well because you have to apply
the material to actual decisions about how to build your case.
But if you're going to do this, you want to do it with a good topic.
So let's go ahead and talk about good topics for this speech assignment.
You want an interesting topic that works
well for what we're trying to do in this assignment,
and I think the best topics for this class,
fall into three basic categories: organizations,
policy, and raising awareness.
So first, organizations.
You can advocate for an organization,
and I think nonprofits could work well here.
In essence, you're making their case for them,
so it can be Doctors Without Borders,
it could be the World Wildlife Fund, whatever.
Basically, you get to talk about
a general problem and then how the organization is working to address that problem.
Beyond that, we've got policy topics.
These can be topics like Brazil should increase political corruption penalties
or a US topic might be something like the US should eliminate the Electoral College.
So these are just general governmental policies.
And I would say similar to policies,
we have raising awareness topics.
So here, you might be bringing a problem to people's attention.
You might want to argue for greater awareness of the dangers of oil fracking.
I actually saw a good persuasive speech recently about raising
awareness about the decline in music education for young children.
So what they did, was they talked about the problems and then identified
some pretty broad solutions for supporting music education in early grades.
Now, all of those topic types lend themselves to what we're doing in this class,
we're building a case.
I think there are some things you want to avoid in terms of topics.
Don't pick a topic that's too broad.
So, I once had someone who wanted to do a persuasive topic on being nicer.
And I said, go ahead, sweet-- but that's too vague.
I get the sentiment but you want a topic that you
can sink your teeth into and develop some hard arguments around.
Existing policy and organizations are better places to start.
What else? Don't pick a topic that's too specific.
So your audience might be on the other side of the world,
so we want to avoid these really hyper specific topics.
So for example, let's say you want to argue that
your company should significantly expand your work group's budget.
Well the rest of us don't work there.
Okay? We don't know enough about your company.
That's just too specific of an argument.
Finally, don't pick a topic that's too offensive.
Your goal is to motivate an audience on a topic,
not to yell at them,
and I've got an example.
Years ago, I had a student we we're talking about
persuasive topics and comes up to me at the end of class and he
says well I want to do my speech on,
we should ban all religions in the world,
I'm like okay, well we'll see where you're running with this.
Why do tell?
And then he goes well is I'm pretty persuasive,
and I worry that I have I don't give myself a challenge it's going to be boring.
I was like... all right, you've persuaded me,
you're an ass, good job.
So don't do that.
Select topics that allow for persuasion.
All dynamic skills require focus practice.
The best tennis players in the world have spent
years hitting practice balls and that's this assignment.
It should be fun, it should be enjoyable but it's here to
allow us to refine specific skills.
Skills we're going to use any time we need to persuade.
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