What makes a good short public speaking topic?
(Vizag , Andrapradesh, India)
Q. I need a simple, general topic for the time duration of 3 minutes. What makes a good short public speaking topic?
A. Short speeches are the hardest, aren't they? After all, you don't have time to talk yourself into a good speech. Everything you say needs to matter. So, while you could speak on almost anything, it's good to choose a topic about which you can make a meaningful, succinct statement.
So that pretty much rules out things like politics, religion, and other complicated controversial issues.
I've found, for short speeches, topics that you can illustrate with quick jokes are good. Take compassion, for example. One of my favorite ways to make the point about compassion goes like this:
Three people were walking on the beach, a woman, her husband, and the husband's mother-in-law. They didn't much like each other, but had been forced to keep one another company for the day. As the walked, they came across a lamp poking out of the sand. After rubbing it three times, a genie popped out! "I normally grant three wishes, but because there's three of you, you'll each get one wish," the genie said.
"But I see you don't have the best of feelings towards each other - so there's a catch: whatever one of you wishes for, the other two will get twice what you wished for."
The mother-in-law looks around, thinking. "I want a mansion up on that bluff over there," she says.
"Your daughter and son-in-law will get one twice as big..." said the genie.
"I want it anyway." So poof! the genie grants her wish, and the other two get houses twice as big.
"I want a million dollars," says the woman.
"Your mother and husband will each get two million..." says the genie.
"Give it to me." So the genie grants the wish.
Now it's the husband's turn. He looks at his wife, looks at his mother-in-law, and then looks at the genie.
"I want to be beaten half to death," he says.
When everybody finishes laughing, I get a very solemn look on my face and look around the room. "You lust laughed at two people be beaten to death," I say. Wham! The mood in the room goes immediately from laughter to 'wow, I just did that...' Then I make a quick point about compassion. Laughing at a joke isn't bad, but is that how we actually act in our day-to-day lives?
Because it's unexpected, this speech makes a powerful impression, despite the fact that it only takes 3-5 minutes.
So for you speech, think of something similar. For a short speech to be good, it must be simple and it must be powerful.
This pattern, joke then irony, can help you both choose a topic and write a fun, moving, powerful speech.