James Madison University
Libraries & Educational Technologies


Communication Studies

Public Speaking

Browse for a Topic  |  Find Articles  |  Find Books  |  Find Statistics  |  Find Quotations  |  Find Images  |  Find Speeches

Whether you are researching a topic or looking for images and quotes, use this guide to help you prepare a speech. Be sure to ask for help at the Public Services Desk if you’d like it!

Browse for a Topic

Don’t have any idea where to start?  Consider some of the sources below.

Reference Books & Research Databases
Many subject encyclopedia offer great ideas for speech topics. In addition, the following works specialize in looking at issues.

Full text reports on current and controversial issues in U.S. politics, health care, education, economics...
Coverage: 1923 - present
Actual editorials published in North American newspapers. Many of these are online as well, but these are easy to browse.
Searchable full text congressional publications and legislative research.
Coverage: 1969 - present

The following magazines may offer some ideas. Current issues are located in our Current Periodicals room. Check Periodical Locator for older issues.

American Demographics

Congressional Digest




Utne Reader

Find Articles

Instead of finding articles by browsing, you can use an index to find articles more efficiently on specific subject.  Take me to the list of Periodical Indexes & Abstracts for Communication Studies


Find Books

Use JMU Library Catalog to find books, encyclopedias, videos, government documents, etc. in the JMU Libraries’ collections. Subject searches are more precise than Word searches. Word searches will return more results.


Find Statistics

Nothing convinces quite so well as an accurate, well-placed statistic. The resources below can help you find the perfect stat.

American Attitudes: Who Thinks What About the Issues that Shape Our Lives (Ref HN 90 .P8 M58 1998)

An American Profile – Opinions and Behavior, 1972-1989 (Ref HN 90 .P8 W6 1990)

Human Values and Beliefs (Ref HM 73 .I544 1998)

Statistical Abstract of the United States (also at the Public Services Desk and at Ref HA202 .A35)

Find Quotations

Warm up your audience with a well-selected quote. The library has over 100 books dedicated just to quotations. Find most of them in Reference or the Stacks between PN6080 and PN6095. Find more by searching in LEO for QUOTATIONS as a subject. Here are just a few examples:

And I Quote: the definitive collection of quotes, sayings, and jokes for the contemporary speechmaker (Ref PN4193.I5 A6 2003)


Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes (Ref CT109 .B37 2000)


Bartleby.com Quotations

Includes Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (10th ed.), Columbia World of Quotations, and Simpson's Contemporary Quotations.


Familiar Quotations (a.k.a. “Bartlett’s”) (PN6081 .B27)


The Oxford Dictionary of thematic quotations (Ref PN6081 .O94 2000)


Find Images

Google's Image Search is huge, but the resource below offers online images that are legally offered for class presentations.

Find Speeches

Learn from others by reading, listening, or watching videos in print, audio, or video.


Index and full text of over 5000 audio and video (streaming) versions of public speeches...
Coverage: 354 AD - present

Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History (PN6122 .L4 1992)


Great Speeches (Videotape 689—11 parts)


Great American Speeches: 80 Years of Political Oratory

Includes transcripts and selected audio.


Voices of multicultural America: notable speeches delivered by African, Asian, Hispanic, and Native Americans, 1790-1995 (PS663.M55 V64 1996)


James Madison University Libraries & Educational Technologies