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Introduction to Public Speaking: Getting Started on Your Speech

This guide was prepared to help students in the COMX 111 class: Intro to Public Speaking

Public Speaking

The resources on this guide were prepared to help students taking the class: COMX 111: Introduction to Public Speaking


Image of Conan O'Brien

Image attribution: By Charlie Llewellin from Austin, USA (Conan O'Brien) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Image of a question mark in a bubble


  Need help choosing a topic for your speech?

  Explore some of the resources below:


Watch this short video for tips on how to brainstorm a topic!





Now that you have selected a topic, it's time to think about your search strategy.


Understand Your Assignment:

Make sure you understand your assignment. What is the purpose of the speech? How long does the speech need to be? What sources can you use? How many sources do you need? Are there any date restrictions on the sources that you use?


Finding Sources:

Where should you look for sources? The Library's Power Search simultaneously searches all the library's databases for books, articles, videos, government documents & more:

Image of the Power Search box


Or you can search individual databases by subject.  Searching individual databases can allow for a more focused search than searching all of the databases simultaneously.


IMPORTANT: Sign-in with your NetID & Password if you are off-campus. Just watch for the prompt to sign in.


Keyword Searching

After selecting a topic, develop a list of terms to use while searching for information. Watch this brief video to learn more:



Now that you have your topic and list of keywords to search, use this list of popular library databases to find information for your speech. The library's databases have thousands of academic journal articles relevant to your assignment.


Click the Power Search image below to search all of the library databases simultaneously for books (print & electronic), articles, media, government documents, and more:


Or search individual databases such as these:

Click here for a complete list of the library's databases by subject.



Need to find some demographic or statistical information for your speech? The resource below the arrow has links to sites offering all types of demographic data and/or stats, including city, county, state, census, United States, International, and by topic.


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image of census population graphic




When evaluating the sources you selected for your project, there are many things to consider. Refer back to your assignment to make sure you have the required types and number of sources. Watch this 2 minute video from Western University to learn how to evaluate your sources.  





Use this table to review the concepts from the video:



Criteria Questions to Ask
  • When was the source written & published?
  • Has the information been updated recently?
  • Is currency pertinent to your research?
  • Does the source cover your speech topic comprehensively or only cover one aspect?
  • To what extent does the source answer your research question?
  • Is the source considered popular or scholarly?
  • Is the terminology and language used easy to understand?
  • Does the source meet the requirements of your speech assignment?
  • Who is the author (person, company, or organization)?
  • Does the source provide any info that leads you to believe that the author is credible or an expert on the topic?
  • Can you describe the author's background (experience, education, knowledge)?
  • Does the author provide citations? Do you think they are reputable?
  • Can facts or statistics be verified through another source?
  • Based on your knowledge, does the information seem accurate? Does it match info found in other sources?
  • Are there spelling or grammatical errors?
  • What is the purpose or motive for the source (educational, commercial, entertainment, promotional, etc)?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the author pretending to be objective, but really trying to persuade, promote, or sell something?
  • Does the source seem biased?