Public Speaking Class: Develop a Topic (Part 1)
Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there lived a woman who wanted to change the world. She saw working-class citizens struggling to make ends meet all around her and wanted to do something about it. By making books and medicine more affordable for the masses, she wanted to create a world in which everyone had a fair shot at success and was treated equally, regardless of their background. One day, she came close to fulfilling her dream and becoming ruler of the kingdom – however, local citizens weren’t convinced by her message and decided that the kingdom would be better governed by a red giant. She wasn’t able to persuade the people of the importance of these social issues, and ultimately lost the battle. Her name was Hillary Clinton…
What went wrong? Why didn’t it work out? And what can we do to avoid making the same mistakes? If you want to find out – you’re in the right place! In this article, you’ll learn how to identify common social issues that your audience cares about and reveal broad ideological problems associated with them.
The world we live in is far from perfect, and we can find examples of social issues plaguing our communities in almost any direction we look. Luckily, by delivering an OO, we can draw attention to the issues we care about, persuade our audience to care about them too, and maybe even identify a solution together! But where do we start?
The first step to developing an OO topic is to identify a common social issue to discuss. Common social issues are issues that affect a large number of people, and seriously impact people’s lives. These are issues that are relevant on a national or global scale, in present-day societies.
Let’s take socioeconomic inequality for example. This problem affects billions of people worldwide and severely impacts those living in poverty. How so? Well, everyone wants to be treated fairly and enjoy decent standards of living. In highly unequal societies, people are often deprived of the opportunity to do so. Consequently, socioeconomic inequality often leads to political tension, soaring crime rates, and even civil unrest.
By contrast, Itchy Foot Syndrome – a rare condition that affects one in a million people worldwide, for which the primary symptom is a persistent itch on the soles of your feet – would not be a good example of a common social issue. Why? It’s not very common for starters, so it doesn’t satisfy our first condition of affecting large numbers of people. Moreover, it doesn’t lead to serious impacts on people’s lives, apart from the mild inconvenience of having itchy feet.
When it comes to common social issues, it’s fair to say that these are issues that consistently pop up in the news cycle. The impacts of socioeconomic inequality, for example, are felt by people around the world and are often the subject of academic or political discourse. In fact, newspapers like the New York Times and the Independent often have entire pages dedicated to this topic.
And yet, socioeconomic inequality is just one of many issues facing our society today. There are many others, some of which you may already have heard of, such as racial and ethnic discrimination, human trafficking, and gang violence. With so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to focus on and turn it into a good OO topic?
The good news is…you don’t! As in, you don’t always need to pick just one social issue to talk about. It turns out that societal issues are often interconnected. For instance, if you wanted to discuss the socioeconomic inequalities that exist between urban and rural communities due to the lack of employment opportunities beyond city centers, you could also talk about the rising price of housing in overpopulated urban districts. The key here is to find a way to tie these issues together by identifying ONE human action, behavior, or attitude at the root of these issues. But more on that in part two of this article.
For now, you’re all caught up on what common social issues are and how to recognize them.