Whether you are preparing a presentation on the causes of a regional drought or composing a speech about the effects of folk jazz music on contemporary musicians, you are developing a cause and effect speech topic. Also known as a causal pattern of organization, cause and effect is a common method of formatting for an informative speech or presentation.
A cause and effect speech topic is one that describes a causal relationship between two or more related subjects or situations. For example, a cause and effect speech may explore the impact of increased tourism on the local wildlife of a given area. Or, such a speech may discuss damage to a particular geographic region caused by a prolonged drought, focusing either on the causes or the effects of the drought. Whenever a speech informs the audience of the cause and effect relationship surrounding a given topic, then it serves as a causal speech or presentation.
Many subject areas can provide topics for cause and effect speeches. When you are considering developing a causal topic, start with what you already know and care about. For example, what subjects are you passionate about? If your answer is something as simple as "movies" or "music," you might explore how a particular musician was influenced by the American jazz fusion artists of the late 1960s, and how they affected his music. Whatever your interests and passions, many of these areas are rich with speech topic possibilities.
In developing a causal speech, consider the purpose of your final presentation. For example, if you decide to discuss the ecological damage of a prolonged regional drought, and you want to argue for a remedy to the situation, then you may be better served by developing a problem and solution speech or a motivational presentation. Cause and effect topics work best with informative presentations where your purpose is to explain a situation to the audience or to answer the question of "why" something has happened or will happen.
When you have chosen your cause and effect topic, you have a couple of options as to how you develop your speech or presentation. You can begin with a description of the origins of the current situation and then explore the effects, a cause-effect format, or you can begin with a description of the situation itself and then discuss the causes, an effect-cause format. To choose between the two, consider your audience's knowledge of the subject. What aspect or element of your topic does your audience know the most about? This aspect or element may be the most effective place to begin your speech.
When preparing a causal presentation, you can focus on more than one cause or more than one effect. You can also show a sequence of related causes or effects. For example, if you are exploring how folk musician Joni Mitchell has been influenced by jazz fusion artists from the late 1960s, then you might also trace the influence of Mitchell's own folk jazz music on contemporary artists such as Sufjan Stevens and Bjork. Or, if you are discussing how tourism has caused a decrease in the wildlife population of a coastal region, then you may also discuss how that decrease will affect the region's overall ecosystem. With a cause and effect speech, you can explore both what has occurred in the past and what might occur in the future. While your speech does not need to cover every potential cause or effect connected to your topic, it should reflect what you believe are the most important elements of the causal relationship.
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