TRUMAN STATE UNIVERSITY Pickler Memorial Library Truman State University
Finding a Topic and Preparing a Speech
Some questions to start
  • What am I interested in?
  • What will I enjoy researching (finding books and articles about)?
  • What will I enjoy talking about?
  • How can I make my interests be interesting to my audience?

Selecting an initial topic
  • Use some of the resources listed below to select a topic
  • CQ Researcher and Opposing Viewpoints are especially useful for finding topics of current interest (environmental concerns, social issues, economics and finance, etc.)

Narrowing your topic

Most speech topics need to be narrowed and refined as research proceeds
Some ways to consider narrowing a topic like "euthanasia"
  • Limit to a specific person - Jack Kevorkian
  • Limit to an organization - Hermlock Society
  • Limit to a geographical area or ethnic group - Euthanasia in the Middle Ages
  • Limit to an aspect of the topic (often aligned with academic disciplines - Legal, scientific, social, economic, or ethical perspectives
  • Combine some of the above limitations - Eutnanasia in Germany in the 1940s
  • Compare and contrast the way the topic is presented in two or more media (newspapers, magazines, television, film)

Steps for Proceeding
  • Use Truman's online catalog to find books on the topic
  • Use the article databases below to locate magazine and journal articles; Academic Search Premiere is especially useful to begin with as it contains popular an scholarly resources from all disciplines
  • Use the Article and Research Databases Guide to find guides to resources in other subject areas
  • After gathering material for the substance of the speech, use statistical sources and quotation books to add some "spice" throughout the speech
All Items by Source
Encyclopedias & Dictionaries
Specialized Sources


Academic Search Premier Restricted Resource openURL Resource contains images Some full text available

A multi-disciplinary database that provides full text for more than 4,600 journals, including full text for nearly 3,900 peer-reviewed titles. PDF backfiles to 1975 or further are available for well over one hundred journals, and searchable cited references are provided for more than 1,000 titles.

LexisNexis Academic Restricted Resource Some full text available

Provides a wide range of full-text news, business, legal, and reference information.

SocIndex with Full Text Restricted Resource openURL Some full text available
A comprehensive sociology research database with more than 1.9 million records and the full text for over 400 journals dating back to 1908.  Also contains full text for more than 700 books and monographs and more than 6000 conference papers.  Journals related to Criminology & Criminal Justice, Education, Gender Studies/GLBT Studies, History, and Education are also found in this database.  For some journals, there may be a 12 month delay in provision of full text content.
America: History and Life Restricted Resource openURL
Indexes history journals and some other publications covering the US and Canada.


More than 100 agencies in the United States Federal Government produce statistics of interest to the public. Sources are listed by both statistical agency and within an A-Z topic list.

Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

Credo Reference Restricted Resource Resource contains images Some full text available
Over 600 online reference titles in all subject areas.  Allows cross-referencing between titles and expanding searches into the Truman catalog and other library resources.


Cassell's Humorous Quotations
Shelf Location: PN 6084 .H8 C37 2001
A collection of quotations to add levity to papers, speeches and presentations on subjects including, age and aging, education, and Puritanism.

Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations
Shelf Location: REF PN 6084 . P6 .O94 2006
Quotations from government, politics, economics, international affairs, and philosophy, among other areas.  Arranged alphabetically by speaker with a keyword index.

Ultimate Book of Business Quotations
Shelf Location: REF PN 6084 .B7 . U58 1998
Quotations from all areas of the world of business, with emphasis less on business jargon than applications of business principles on all aspects of life.  Includes quotes from business leaders as well as diverse figures such as Edgar Allan Poe, Eleanor Roosevelt, P.T. Barnum, and Raymond Chandler.

Yale Book of Quotations
Shelf Location: PN 6081 .Y35 2006
Quotations on all topics, including literature, science, poetry, government, and politics.

Specialized Sources

CQ Researcher (1991-current year).
Shelf Location: REF H 35 .E352
Each volume contains a cumulative index to the issues which cover various topics such as gun control, cybercrime, prison reform, etc.
Opposing Viewpoints Restricted Resource Some full text available
Information on current social issues, including viewpoint articles, topic overviews, full-text magazine and newspaper articles, primary source documents, statistics, images, podcasts, and other website links.

Some books included in the database are available in the library, do a keyword search in the Library Catalog using the terms: opposing viewpoints and your topic. Example:  "opposing viewpoints" and abortion
Or click here for a complete list of  the  Opposing Viewpoint Series.
Subject Specialist
Picture: Dan McGurk

Dan McGurk
Reference & Electronic Resources Librarian
Tel: (660) 785-4528

Getting Help

in person:

Stop by the Library Service Desk all hours the library is open.


Call the Reference Department at 660-785-4051.


Use our Ask-A-Librarian form to email us a question. 


Schedule a RAP session with a librarian for individualized research assistance.

Another useful guide