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Speech Research Basics: Home

Step-by-step guidance for students tasked with writing and delivering speeches.

Step One: Choose a Meaningul, Appropriate Topic

topic selection guidelinesCarefully review your assignment and then choose a meaningful topic that satisfies your instructor's requirements. Librarians are happy to help you brainstorm potential topics and/or point you toward databases providing topic ideas. Bring your assignment description (and outline template) with you when you visit the Research Help Desk.


How to Generate Topic Ideas


generating topic ideas

Need to find a current event, controversial issue, or societal problem for a persuasive speech? Get ideas here!

Step Two: Do Some Preliminary Reading

Do some background reading to get more acquainted with your topic and help figure out the story you want to tell in your speech. Preliminary reading is a great help in developing your main points, as well as identifying useful search terms for future database searching. The point is not to start gathering your actual sources -- though you may very well find some along the way -- but to get comfortable with your topic by consulting engaging, easy to understand sources.

Preliminary Reading helps you evaluate and refine topics

Where To Do Preliminary Reading:

Step Three: Sketch out the Story You Want to Tell

Your professor will provide samples of organizational pattern(s) appropriate for various types of speeches. For instance, some speeches lend themselves to a chronological order, where others work well as a cause-effect presentation, and so on. As you do your background reading, pay attention to how the sources you find organize information on your topic. What works for you? Will it work for your audience? Decide upon your organization and begin to sketch out the story you want to tell.

After you land on an effective organization pattern, your job is to find the best sources possible to help you tell that story in a compelling -- and credible -- way. As you begin to gather the best sources, be sure to pay attention to the number and type of sources required by your professor. 

Step Four: Find Your Sources

The MJC Library & Learning Center subscribes to roughly 100 databases. Listed below are some of our most popular databases; MJC research librarians are happy to point you toward the best database(s) for your given topic. A complete list of MJC Databases can be found under Articles and Databases on the MJC Library & Learning Center home page. 

Databases for Current Events, Controversial Issues, Persuasive Speeches
Databases for All Topics

Step Five: Evaluate ALL Sources Before Use

Finding information is these days is easy. Your job is to find reliable information. You can use the CRAAP Test to evaluate your sources. 

CRAAP Test criteria


For more in-depth information about the evaluating sources, follow the links below

Step Six: Cite Your Sources Appropriately

Your citation style will affect your paper in three places:

  • The General Format (How the paper looks)
  • The Bibliography (List of all sources used)
  • In-Text Citations (Use of sources within the paper)


Citing Your Sources: How Citation Style Affects Your Work


Click on the appropriate link below to learn how to format your paper and cite your sources according to a particular style

Get Help

Meet with a Librarian

There are two ways librarians can help you personally with your research.

  • Drop-in Research Help: You don't need to make an appointment to meet with a librarian. Just walk into the Library & Learning Center on either East or West campus during our regular hours and a librarian will be at the Research Help desk to work with you.
  • Online Research Appointments: Back by popular demand, we are also offering 30-minute online research appointments. To schedule an appointment, click on the button below. You can also choose to work with a particular librarian or just choose any one of us who is available at the time you need. Once you schedule your appointment, your librarian will contact you with your meeting information.


meet with a librarian online scheduling button