Speech Ideas

How to generate enough speech ideas to keep you going for the rest of your life.

Remember, you're about as creative as you make up your mind to be. So choose to be creative, read this page and you'll never be stuck again for speech topic ideas.

There's two ways you can get ideas for speeches.

  1. You can look at a list of ideas and pick one.
  2. Or, you can come up with one yourself. (Personally I think this way is a lot more fun.)

This page has 12 ways to help you come up with your own ideas for public speaking.

These techniques come from a book on creativity called 'Thinkertoys' by Michael Mihalko.

12 Ways To Find Speech Ideas

  1. Set An Idea Quota.

    Edison held 1093 patents. He set himself a quota he had to fill. It was a minor invention every 10 days, and a major invention every 6 months.

    To get tons of ideas for speeches for example, you could set yourself a quota of one a day for 30 days.

  2. Use Your Filters.

    Look, really look, at what you can see right now. How many blue things are there? Green? Brown? Notice you start seeing green when you look for it, but not before.

    Looking for ideas for a funny speech? For the rest of today ask yourself 'What would a comedian do with this?'

    Looking for an informative speech idea? For the rest of today ask yourself 'What's fascinating about this?'

    If nothing else you'll have a great day! Most likely though, speech ideas will come when you go looking for them.

  3. Pay Attention.

    I really like this one, because it's also the key to living well.

    For the next few hours just shut down the voice in your head when it says 'little things all around you aren't really important'. Look around you right now. What objects would your great grandfather be amazed by? The internet's only about 15 years old. In my country 40 years ago you couldn't buy a new car unless you had overseas funds or you were a doctor. There were three restaurants in the whole country.

    Speech ideas will come in an avalanche when you see the world around you with a bit of wonder again.

  4. Change Some Habits.

    Change all or some of these: your route to work, your sleeping hours, your working hours, your radio station, your newspaper, your friends, your recipes, your vacation destination, your reading habits, your break habits, what you drink, where you eat out, your leisure activities, have a bath instead of a shower, stop watching TV, watch different channels, surf different sites.

    Go ahead. Have a mid-life crisis now. Why wait?

    Your next few speech ideas could be about your new life.

  5. Feed Your Head.

    • Read well. Non-fiction, fiction, magazines on subjects you know little about, biographies, how-to books.
    • Take notes.
    • Think as you read. What's funny, fascinating, stupid? What solutions to problems do you see? What new insights come to you?

  6. Analyze The World.

    • Study your local newspaper or the major metroploitan daily paper for a few days. What do you notice? What percentage of the articles are negative? What are the most common subjects? What themes do you see repeated? What types of jobs are on offer? What types of ads are most prominent?
    • Study your TV for a few days. What do the types of shows in prime time say about us? Pretend you're an alien visitor trying to get a handle on humans in your city.
    • People pay big money for this type of content analysis. You're adding value to yourself as a speaker. Ideas will flood in.

  7. Collect Ideas.

    Get a shoe box and start collecting ideas like a magpie collects shiny stuff. When you're feeling stuck, shake the box reach in and grab two things. See which one inspires you to write a speech.

  8. Go Someplace Different.

    The guy who invented 'lollipops' had made candy on a stick but he was in trouble. He needed a way to differentiate himself from the fierce competition. He took a break, went to the track and won some money on a horse called Lolly Pop.

    Sometimes you get great ideas when you go someplace new.

  9. Record Your Ideas.

    Remember the old Larsen comic 'My brain's full.' It's no joke. You can only hold 5 to 9 pieces of info in your head at a time. After 12 seconds recall is poor. After 20 it'll dissappear unless you keep repeating it.

    Bottom line? Either record the idea when it happens or you'll probably lose it.

  10. Make Lists.

    Having a lot of ideas is called 'fluency'. Making lists is one of the best ways to increase your fluency of thought. Get even more fluent by setting yourself a time limit.

    For example, list all the emotions you've experienced in the last 7 days. You got 3 minutes.

  11. Stretch.

    Having a lot of creative ideas (you know the ones that make you lots of money sometimes!), is called 'flexibility'.

    Try this exercise to increase the fluency and flexibility of your thinking and be an idea machine!

    Pick a 4 letter word. Write sentences using the four letters in a word. See how many you can do in 3 minutes.

    For example: talk. Take a look kids! Ted always liked Kate.

  12. Idea Log.

    This is a brilliant idea and it works in with all the others. Just keep a file of ideas somewhere, organized in some way that makes sense to you.

    Let's say you like talking about human nature. Big subject. You could organize your ideas for speeches by having folders on Fear, Greed, Stupidity, Malice, Happiness, Compassion, Courage ... you get the idea. Just file your ideas under the appropriate heading. Some might end up as a whole speech. Others might be a story within a speech.

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