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Persuasive Speech Outline, with Examples

March 17, 2021 - Gini Beqiri

A persuasive speech is a speech that is given with the intention of convincing the audience to believe or do something. This could be virtually anything – voting, organ donation, recycling, and so on.

A successful persuasive speech effectively convinces the audience to your point of view, providing you come across as trustworthy and knowledgeable about the topic you’re discussing.

So, how do you start convincing a group of strangers to share your opinion? And how do you connect with them enough to earn their trust?

Topics for your persuasive speech

We’ve made a list of persuasive speech topics you could use next time you’re asked to give one. The topics are thought-provoking and things which many people have an opinion on.

When using any of our persuasive speech ideas, make sure you have a solid knowledge about the topic you’re speaking about – and make sure you discuss counter arguments too.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • All school children should wear a uniform
  • Facebook is making people more socially anxious
  • It should be illegal to drive over the age of 80
  • Lying isn’t always wrong
  • The case for organ donation

Read our full list of  75 persuasive speech topics and ideas .

Ideas for a persuasive speech

Preparation: Consider your audience

As with any speech, preparation is crucial. Before you put pen to paper, think about what you want to achieve with your speech. This will help organise your thoughts as you realistically can only cover 2-4 main points before your  audience get bored .

It’s also useful to think about who your audience are at this point. If they are unlikely to know much about your topic then you’ll need to factor in context of your topic when planning the structure and length of your speech. You should also consider their:

  • Cultural or religious backgrounds
  • Shared concerns, attitudes and problems
  • Shared interests, beliefs and hopes
  • Baseline attitude – are they hostile, neutral, or open to change?

The factors above will all determine the approach you take to writing your speech. For example, if your topic is about childhood obesity, you could begin with a story about your own children or a shared concern every parent has. This would suit an audience who are more likely to be parents than young professionals who have only just left college.

Remember the 3 main approaches to persuade others

There are three main approaches used to persuade others:

The ethos approach appeals to the audience’s ethics and morals, such as what is the ‘right thing’ to do for humanity, saving the environment, etc.

Pathos persuasion is when you appeal to the audience’s emotions, such as when you  tell a story  that makes them the main character in a difficult situation.

The logos approach to giving a persuasive speech is when you appeal to the audience’s logic – ie. your speech is essentially more driven by facts and logic. The benefit of this technique is that your point of view becomes virtually indisputable because you make the audience feel that only your view is the logical one.

  • Ethos, Pathos, Logos: 3 Pillars of Public Speaking and Persuasion

Ideas for your persuasive speech outline

1. structure of your persuasive speech.

The opening and closing of speech are the most important. Consider these carefully when thinking about your persuasive speech outline. A  strong opening  ensures you have the audience’s attention from the start and gives them a positive first impression of you.

You’ll want to  start with a strong opening  such as an attention grabbing statement, statistic of fact. These are usually dramatic or shocking, such as:

Sadly, in the next 18 minutes when I do our chat, four Americans that are alive will be dead from the food that they eat – Jamie Oliver

Another good way of starting a persuasive speech is to include your audience in the picture you’re trying to paint. By making them part of the story, you’re embedding an emotional connection between them and your speech.

You could do this in a more toned-down way by talking about something you know that your audience has in common with you. It’s also helpful at this point to include your credentials in a persuasive speech to gain your audience’s trust.

Speech structure and speech argument for a persuasive speech outline.

Obama would spend hours with his team working on the opening and closing statements of his speech.

2. Stating your argument

You should  pick between 2 and 4 themes  to discuss during your speech so that you have enough time to explain your viewpoint and convince your audience to the same way of thinking.

It’s important that each of your points transitions seamlessly into the next one so that your speech has a logical flow. Work on your  connecting sentences  between each of your themes so that your speech is easy to listen to.

Your argument should be backed up by objective research and not purely your subjective opinion. Use examples, analogies, and stories so that the audience can relate more easily to your topic, and therefore are more likely to be persuaded to your point of view.

3. Addressing counter-arguments

Any balanced theory or thought  addresses and disputes counter-arguments  made against it. By addressing these, you’ll strengthen your persuasive speech by refuting your audience’s objections and you’ll show that you are knowledgeable to other thoughts on the topic.

When describing an opposing point of view, don’t explain it in a bias way – explain it in the same way someone who holds that view would describe it. That way, you won’t irritate members of your audience who disagree with you and you’ll show that you’ve reached your point of view through reasoned judgement. Simply identify any counter-argument and pose explanations against them.

  • Complete Guide to Debating

4. Closing your speech

Your closing line of your speech is your last chance to convince your audience about what you’re saying. It’s also most likely to be the sentence they remember most about your entire speech so make sure it’s a good one!

The most effective persuasive speeches end  with a  call to action . For example, if you’ve been speaking about organ donation, your call to action might be asking the audience to register as donors.

Practice answering AI questions on your speech and get  feedback on your performance .

If audience members ask you questions, make sure you listen carefully and respectfully to the full question. Don’t interject in the middle of a question or become defensive.

You should show that you have carefully considered their viewpoint and refute it in an objective way (if you have opposing opinions). Ensure you remain patient, friendly and polite at all times.

Example 1: Persuasive speech outline

This example is from the Kentucky Community and Technical College.

Specific purpose

To persuade my audience to start walking in order to improve their health.

Central idea

Regular walking can improve both your mental and physical health.


Let’s be honest, we lead an easy life: automatic dishwashers, riding lawnmowers, T.V. remote controls, automatic garage door openers, power screwdrivers, bread machines, electric pencil sharpeners, etc., etc. etc. We live in a time-saving, energy-saving, convenient society. It’s a wonderful life. Or is it?

Continue reading

Example 2: Persuasive speech

Tips for delivering your persuasive speech

  • Practice, practice, and practice some more . Record yourself speaking and listen for any nervous habits you have such as a nervous laugh, excessive use of filler words, or speaking too quickly.
  • Show confident body language . Stand with your legs hip width apart with your shoulders centrally aligned. Ground your feet to the floor and place your hands beside your body so that hand gestures come freely. Your audience won’t be convinced about your argument if you don’t sound confident in it. Find out more about  confident body language here .
  • Don’t memorise your speech word-for-word  or read off a script. If you memorise your persuasive speech, you’ll sound less authentic and panic if you lose your place. Similarly, if you read off a script you won’t sound genuine and you won’t be able to connect with the audience by  making eye contact . In turn, you’ll come across as less trustworthy and knowledgeable. You could simply remember your key points instead, or learn your opening and closing sentences.
  • Remember to use facial expressions when storytelling  – they make you more relatable. By sharing a personal story you’ll more likely be speaking your truth which will help you build a connection with the audience too. Facial expressions help bring your story to life and transport the audience into your situation.
  • Keep your speech as concise as possible . When practicing the delivery, see if you can edit it to have the same meaning but in a more succinct way. This will keep the audience engaged.

The best persuasive speech ideas are those that spark a level of controversy. However, a public speech is not the time to express an opinion that is considered outside the norm. If in doubt, play it safe and stick to topics that divide opinions about 50-50.

Bear in mind who your audience are and plan your persuasive speech outline accordingly, with researched evidence to support your argument. It’s important to consider counter-arguments to show that you are knowledgeable about the topic as a whole and not bias towards your own line of thought.

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40 Strong Persuasive Writing Examples (Essays, Speeches, Ads, and More)

Learn from the experts.

The American Crisis historical article, as an instance of persuasive essay examples

The more we read, the better writers we become. Teaching students to write strong persuasive essays should always start with reading some top-notch models. This round-up of persuasive writing examples includes famous speeches, influential ad campaigns, contemporary reviews of famous books, and more. Use them to inspire your students to write their own essays. (Need persuasive essay topics? Check out our list of interesting persuasive essay ideas here! )

  • Persuasive Essays
  • Persuasive Speeches
  • Advertising Campaigns

Persuasive Essay Writing Examples

First paragraph of Thomas Paine's The American Crisis

From the earliest days of print, authors have used persuasive essays to try to sway others to their own point of view. Check out these top persuasive essay writing examples.

Professions for Women by Virginia Woolf

Sample lines: “Outwardly, what is simpler than to write books? Outwardly, what obstacles are there for a woman rather than for a man? Inwardly, I think, the case is very different; she has still many ghosts to fight, many prejudices to overcome. Indeed it will be a long time still, I think, before a woman can sit down to write a book without finding a phantom to be slain, a rock to be dashed against. And if this is so in literature, the freest of all professions for women, how is it in the new professions which you are now for the first time entering?”

The Crisis by Thomas Paine

Sample lines: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”

Politics and the English Language by George Orwell

Sample lines: “As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug.”

Letter From a Birmingham Jail by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Sample lines: “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was ‘well timed’ in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.'”

Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

Sample lines: “Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.”

Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Roger Ebert

Sample lines: “‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime.”

The Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin

Sample lines: “Methinks I hear some of you say, must a man afford himself no leisure? I will tell thee, my friend, what Poor Richard says, employ thy time well if thou meanest to gain leisure; and, since thou art not sure of a minute, throw not away an hour. Leisure is time for doing something useful; this leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the lazy man never; so that, as Poor Richard says, a life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things.”

The Crack-Up by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sample lines: “Of course all life is a process of breaking down, but the blows that do the dramatic side of the work—the big sudden blows that come, or seem to come, from outside—the ones you remember and blame things on and, in moments of weakness, tell your friends about, don’t show their effect all at once.”

Open Letter to the Kansas School Board by Bobby Henderson

Sample lines: “I am writing you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design should be taught along with the theory of Evolution. … Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. … We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him. It is for this reason that I’m writing you today, to formally request that this alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the other two theories.”

Open Letter to the United Nations by Niels Bohr

Sample lines: “Humanity will, therefore, be confronted with dangers of unprecedented character unless, in due time, measures can be taken to forestall a disastrous competition in such formidable armaments and to establish an international control of the manufacture and use of the powerful materials.”

Persuasive Speech Writing Examples

Many persuasive speeches are political in nature, often addressing subjects like human rights. Here are some of history’s most well-known persuasive writing examples in the form of speeches.

I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Sample lines: “And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Woodrow Wilson’s War Message to Congress, 1917

Sample lines: “There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts—for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.”

Chief Seattle’s 1854 Oration

Sample lines: “I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends, and children. Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as they swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch.”

Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, Hillary Rodham Clinton

Sample lines: “What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations do as well. … If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.”

I Am Prepared to Die, Nelson Mandela

Sample lines: “Above all, My Lord, we want equal political rights, because without them our disabilities will be permanent. I know this sounds revolutionary to the whites in this country, because the majority of voters will be Africans. This makes the white man fear democracy. But this fear cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the only solution which will guarantee racial harmony and freedom for all. It is not true that the enfranchisement of all will result in racial domination. Political division, based on color, is entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one color group by another. … This then is what the ANC is fighting. Our struggle is a truly national one. It is a struggle of the African people, inspired by our own suffering and our own experience. It is a struggle for the right to live.”

The Struggle for Human Rights by Eleanor Roosevelt

Sample lines: “It is my belief, and I am sure it is also yours, that the struggle for democracy and freedom is a critical struggle, for their preservation is essential to the great objective of the United Nations to maintain international peace and security. Among free men the end cannot justify the means. We know the patterns of totalitarianism—the single political party, the control of schools, press, radio, the arts, the sciences, and the church to support autocratic authority; these are the age-old patterns against which men have struggled for 3,000 years. These are the signs of reaction, retreat, and retrogression. The United Nations must hold fast to the heritage of freedom won by the struggle of its people; it must help us to pass it on to generations to come.”

Freedom From Fear by Aung San Suu Kyi

Sample lines: “Saints, it has been said, are the sinners who go on trying. So free men are the oppressed who go on trying and who in the process make themselves fit to bear the responsibilities and to uphold the disciplines which will maintain a free society. Among the basic freedoms to which men aspire that their lives might be full and uncramped, freedom from fear stands out as both a means and an end. A people who would build a nation in which strong, democratic institutions are firmly established as a guarantee against state-induced power must first learn to liberate their own minds from apathy and fear.”

Harvey Milk’s “The Hope” Speech

Sample lines: “Some people are satisfied. And some people are not. You see there is a major difference—and it remains a vital difference—between a friend and a gay person, a friend in office and a gay person in office. Gay people have been slandered nationwide. We’ve been tarred and we’ve been brushed with the picture of pornography. In Dade County, we were accused of child molestation. It is not enough anymore just to have friends represent us, no matter how good that friend may be.”

The Union and the Strike, Cesar Chavez

Sample lines: “We are showing our unity in our strike. Our strike is stopping the work in the fields; our strike is stopping ships that would carry grapes; our strike is stopping the trucks that would carry the grapes. Our strike will stop every way the grower makes money until we have a union contract that guarantees us a fair share of the money he makes from our work! We are a union and we are strong and we are striking to force the growers to respect our strength!”

Nobel Lecture by Malala Yousafzai

Sample lines: “The world can no longer accept that basic education is enough. Why do leaders accept that for children in developing countries, only basic literacy is sufficient, when their own children do homework in algebra, mathematics, science, and physics? Leaders must seize this opportunity to guarantee a free, quality, primary and secondary education for every child. Some will say this is impractical, or too expensive, or too hard. Or maybe even impossible. But it is time the world thinks bigger.”   

Persuasive Writing Examples in Advertising Campaigns

Ads are prime persuasive writing examples. You can flip open any magazine or watch TV for an hour or two to see sample after sample of persuasive language. Here are some of the most popular ad campaigns of all time, with links to articles explaining why they were so successful.

Nike: Just Do It


The iconic swoosh with the simple tagline has persuaded millions to buy their kicks from Nike and Nike alone. Teamed with pro sports-star endorsements, this campaign is one for the ages. Blinkist offers an opinion on what made it work.

Dove: Real Beauty

Beauty brand Dove changed the game by choosing “real” women to tell their stories instead of models. They used relatable images and language to make connections, and inspired other brands to try the same concept. Learn why Global Brands considers this one a true success story.

Wendy’s: Where’s the Beef?

Today’s kids are too young to remember the cranky old woman demanding to know where the beef was on her fast-food hamburger. But in the 1980s, it was a catchphrase that sold millions of Wendy’s burgers. Learn from Better Marketing how this ad campaign even found its way into the 1984 presidential debate.

De Beers: A Diamond Is Forever

Diamond engagement ring on black velvet. Text reads "How do you make two months' salary last forever? The Diamond Engagement Ring."

A diamond engagement ring has become a standard these days, but the tradition isn’t as old as you might think. In fact, it was De Beers jewelry company’s 1948 campaign that created the modern engagement ring trend. The Drum has the whole story of this sparkling campaign.

Volkswagen: Think Small

Americans have always loved big cars. So in the 1960s, when Volkswagen wanted to introduce their small cars to a bigger market, they had a problem. The clever “Think Small” campaign gave buyers clever reasons to consider these models, like “If you run out of gas, it’s easy to push.” Learn how advertisers interested American buyers in little cars at Visual Rhetoric.

American Express: Don’t Leave Home Without It

AmEx was once better known for traveler’s checks than credit cards, and the original slogan was “Don’t leave home without them.” A simple word change convinced travelers that American Express was the credit card they needed when they headed out on adventures. Discover more about this persuasive campaign from Medium.

Skittles: Taste the Rainbow

Bag of Skittles candy against a blue background. Text reads

These candy ads are weird and intriguing and probably not for everyone. But they definitely get you thinking, and that often leads to buying. Learn more about why these wacky ads are successful from The Drum.

Maybelline: Maybe She’s Born With It

Smart wordplay made this ad campaign slogan an instant hit. The ads teased, “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.” (So many literary devices all in one phrase!) Fashionista has more on this beauty campaign.

Coca-Cola: Share a Coke

Seeing their own name on a bottle made teens more likely to want to buy a Coke. What can that teach us about persuasive writing in general? It’s an interesting question to consider. Learn more about the “Share a Coke” campaign from Digital Vidya.

Always: #LikeaGirl

Always ad showing a young girl holding a softball. Text reads

Talk about the power of words! This Always campaign turned the derogatory phrase “like a girl” on its head, and the world embraced it. Storytelling is an important part of persuasive writing, and these ads really do it well. Medium has more on this stereotype-bashing campaign.   

Editorial Persuasive Writing Examples

Original newspaper editorial

Newspaper editors or publishers use editorials to share their personal opinions. Noted politicians, experts, or pundits may also offer their opinions on behalf of the editors or publishers. Here are a couple of older well-known editorials, along with a selection from current newspapers.

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus (1897)

Sample lines: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.”

What’s the Matter With Kansas? (1896)

Sample lines: “Oh, this IS a state to be proud of! We are a people who can hold up our heads! What we need is not more money, but less capital, fewer white shirts and brains, fewer men with business judgment, and more of those fellows who boast that they are ‘just ordinary clodhoppers, but they know more in a minute about finance than John Sherman,’ we need more men … who hate prosperity, and who think, because a man believes in national honor, he is a tool of Wall Street.”

America Can Have Democracy or Political Violence. Not Both. (The New York Times)

Sample lines: “The nation is not powerless to stop a slide toward deadly chaos. If institutions and individuals do more to make it unacceptable in American public life, organized violence in the service of political objectives can still be pushed to the fringes. When a faction of one of the country’s two main political parties embraces extremism, that makes thwarting it both more difficult and more necessary. A well-functioning democracy demands it.”

The Booster Isn’t Perfect, But Still Can Help Against COVID (The Washington Post)

Sample lines: “The booster shots are still free, readily available and work better than the previous boosters even as the virus evolves. Much still needs to be done to build better vaccines that protect longer and against more variants, including those that might emerge in the future. But it is worth grabbing the booster that exists today, the jab being a small price for any measure that can help keep COVID at bay.”

If We Want Wildlife To Thrive in L.A., We Have To Share Our Neighborhoods With Them (Los Angeles Times)

Sample lines: “If there are no corridors for wildlife movement and if excessive excavation of dirt to build bigger, taller houses erodes the slope of a hillside, then we are slowly destroying wildlife habitat. For those people fretting about what this will do to their property values—isn’t open space, trees, and wildlife an amenity in these communities?”   

Persuasive Review Writing Examples

Image of first published New York Times Book Review

Book or movie reviews are more great persuasive writing examples. Look for those written by professionals for the strongest arguments and writing styles. Here are reviews of some popular books and movies by well-known critics to use as samples.

The Great Gatsby (The Chicago Tribune, 1925)

Sample lines: “What ails it, fundamentally, is the plain fact that it is simply a story—that Fitzgerald seems to be far more interested in maintaining its suspense than in getting under the skins of its people. It is not that they are false: It is that they are taken too much for granted. Only Gatsby himself genuinely lives and breathes. The rest are mere marionettes—often astonishingly lifelike, but nevertheless not quite alive.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (The Washington Post, 1999)

Sample lines: “Obviously, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone should make any modern 11-year-old a very happy reader. The novel moves quickly, packs in everything from a boa constrictor that winks to a melancholy Zen-spouting centaur to an owl postal system, and ends with a scary surprise. Yet it is, essentially, a light-hearted thriller, interrupted by occasional seriousness (the implications of Harry’s miserable childhood, a moral about the power of love).”

Twilight (The Telegraph, 2009)

Sample lines: “No secret, of course, at whom this book is aimed, and no doubt, either, that it has hit its mark. The four Twilight novels are not so much enjoyed, as devoured, by legions of young female fans worldwide. That’s not to say boys can’t enjoy these books; it’s just that the pages of heart-searching dialogue between Edward and Bella may prove too long on chat and too short on action for the average male reader.”

To Kill a Mockingbird (Time, 1960)

Sample lines: “Author Lee, 34, an Alabaman, has written her first novel with all of the tactile brilliance and none of the preciosity generally supposed to be standard swamp-warfare issue for Southern writers. The novel is an account of an awakening to good and evil, and a faint catechistic flavor may have been inevitable. But it is faint indeed; novelist Lee’s prose has an edge that cuts through cant, and she teaches the reader an astonishing number of useful truths about little girls and about Southern life.”

The Diary of Anne Frank (The New York Times, 1952)

Sample lines: “And this quality brings it home to any family in the world today. Just as the Franks lived in momentary fear of the Gestapo’s knock on their hidden door, so every family today lives in fear of the knock of war. Anne’s diary is a great affirmative answer to the life-question of today, for she shows how ordinary people, within this ordeal, consistently hold to the greater human values.”   

What are your favorite persuasive writing examples to use with students? Come share your ideas in the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .

Plus, the big list of essay topics for high school (120+ ideas) ..

Find strong persuasive writing examples to use for inspiration, including essays, speeches, advertisements, reviews, and more.

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Persuasive Speeches — Types, Topics, and Examples

Daniel Bal

What is a persuasive speech?

In a persuasive speech, the speaker aims to convince the audience to accept a particular perspective on a person, place, object, idea, etc. The speaker strives to cause the audience to accept the point of view presented in the speech.

The success of a persuasive speech often relies on the speaker’s use of ethos, pathos, and logos.

Success of a persuasive speech

Ethos is the speaker’s credibility. Audiences are more likely to accept an argument if they find the speaker trustworthy. To establish credibility during a persuasive speech, speakers can do the following:

Use familiar language.

Select examples that connect to the specific audience.

Utilize credible and well-known sources.

Logically structure the speech in an audience-friendly way.

Use appropriate eye contact, volume, pacing, and inflection.

Pathos appeals to the audience’s emotions. Speakers who create an emotional bond with their audience are typically more convincing. Tapping into the audience’s emotions can be accomplished through the following:

Select evidence that can elicit an emotional response.

Use emotionally-charged words. (The city has a problem … vs. The city has a disease …)

Incorporate analogies and metaphors that connect to a specific emotion to draw a parallel between the reference and topic.

Utilize vivid imagery and sensory words, allowing the audience to visualize the information.

Employ an appropriate tone, inflection, and pace to reflect the emotion.

Logos appeals to the audience’s logic by offering supporting evidence. Speakers can improve their logical appeal in the following ways:

Use comprehensive evidence the audience can understand.

Confirm the evidence logically supports the argument’s claims and stems from credible sources.

Ensure that evidence is specific and avoid any vague or questionable information.

Types of persuasive speeches

The three main types of persuasive speeches are factual, value, and policy.

Types of persuasive speeches

A factual persuasive speech focuses solely on factual information to prove the existence or absence of something through substantial proof. This is the only type of persuasive speech that exclusively uses objective information rather than subjective. As such, the argument does not rely on the speaker’s interpretation of the information. Essentially, a factual persuasive speech includes historical controversy, a question of current existence, or a prediction:

Historical controversy concerns whether an event happened or whether an object actually existed.

Questions of current existence involve the knowledge that something is currently happening.

Predictions incorporate the analysis of patterns to convince the audience that an event will happen again.

A value persuasive speech concerns the morality of a certain topic. Speakers incorporate facts within these speeches; however, the speaker’s interpretation of those facts creates the argument. These speeches are highly subjective, so the argument cannot be proven to be absolutely true or false.

A policy persuasive speech centers around the speaker’s support or rejection of a public policy, rule, or law. Much like a value speech, speakers provide evidence supporting their viewpoint; however, they provide subjective conclusions based on the facts they provide.

How to write a persuasive speech

Incorporate the following steps when writing a persuasive speech:

Step 1 – Identify the type of persuasive speech (factual, value, or policy) that will help accomplish the goal of the presentation.

Step 2 – Select a good persuasive speech topic to accomplish the goal and choose a position .

How to write a persuasive speech

Step 3 – Locate credible and reliable sources and identify evidence in support of the topic/position. Revisit Step 2 if there is a lack of relevant resources.

Step 4 – Identify the audience and understand their baseline attitude about the topic.

Step 5 – When constructing an introduction , keep the following questions in mind:

What’s the topic of the speech?

What’s the occasion?

Who’s the audience?

What’s the purpose of the speech?

Step 6 – Utilize the evidence within the previously identified sources to construct the body of the speech. Keeping the audience in mind, determine which pieces of evidence can best help develop the argument. Discuss each point in detail, allowing the audience to understand how the facts support the perspective.

Step 7 – Addressing counterarguments can help speakers build their credibility, as it highlights their breadth of knowledge.

Step 8 – Conclude the speech with an overview of the central purpose and how the main ideas identified in the body support the overall argument.

How to write a persuasive speech

Persuasive speech outline

One of the best ways to prepare a great persuasive speech is by using an outline. When structuring an outline, include an introduction, body, and conclusion:


Attention Grabbers

Ask a question that allows the audience to respond in a non-verbal way; ask a rhetorical question that makes the audience think of the topic without requiring a response.

Incorporate a well-known quote that introduces the topic. Using the words of a celebrated individual gives credibility and authority to the information in the speech.

Offer a startling statement or information about the topic, typically done using data or statistics.

Provide a brief anecdote or story that relates to the topic.

Starting a speech with a humorous statement often makes the audience more comfortable with the speaker.

Provide information on how the selected topic may impact the audience .

Include any background information pertinent to the topic that the audience needs to know to understand the speech in its entirety.

Give the thesis statement in connection to the main topic and identify the main ideas that will help accomplish the central purpose.

Identify evidence

Summarize its meaning

Explain how it helps prove the support/main claim

Evidence 3 (Continue as needed)

Support 3 (Continue as needed)

Restate thesis

Review main supports

Concluding statement

Give the audience a call to action to do something specific.

Identify the overall importan ce of the topic and position.

Persuasive speech topics

The following table identifies some common or interesting persuasive speech topics for high school and college students:

Persuasive speech examples

The following list identifies some of history’s most famous persuasive speeches:

John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address: “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You”

Lyndon B. Johnson: “We Shall Overcome”

Marc Antony: “Friends, Romans, Countrymen…” in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

Ronald Reagan: “Tear Down this Wall”

Sojourner Truth: “Ain’t I a Woman?”

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Persuasive speech outline example

-an outline using Monroe's 5 step Motivated Sequence

By:  Susan Dugdale  | Last modified: 11-27-2023

This persuasive speech outline example uses Monroe's Motivated Sequence (MMS) - a 5 step structural pattern for organizing material focusing on, as its name suggests, motivational appeals.

The sequence forms the basis of many of the successful political, public awareness or advertising campaigns you see and hear around you on a daily basis.

For example: campaigns to raise awareness of health issues: The Heart Truth, NDAFW - National Drugs and Alcohol Facts Week, or STOMP Out Bullying. *

Why is the framework so popular? Because it faithfully follows the psychology of persuasion. In a nutshell, it works. Exceedingly well.

Use the quick links to get around this very long page efficiently. Each of the five steps is fully explained and illustrated in an example speech outline. There's a printable MMS speech outline document for your own use too!

Page quick links

  • Step overview
  • Step 1 - Attention
  • Step 2 - Need
  • Step 3 - Satisfaction
  • Step 4 - Visualization
  • Step 5 - Action
  • Download blank outline template

More persuasive speech resources

Image: A diagram showing the 5 steps of Monroe's Motivated Sequence.

About Monroe's Motivated Sequence

Alan H Monroe - originator of Monroe's Motivated Sequence

The pattern, or steps, of the sequence mirror those identified as being the normal thinking processes that occur whenever a person is confronted by a problem.

Because the steps are perceived as reasonable and logical using them prepares and motivates an audience to respond positively to the speaker's message.

The sequence is named after Dr  Alan H Monroe who, after graduating from Northwestern University in 1924, joined the staff at Purdue University (USA) as an Instructor in English. Two years later he became Instructor in Public Speaking and was subsequently promoted to Assistant Professor and head of the speech section of the English department. He retired from the role in 1963.  

 Overview of Monroe's 5 step motivation sequence

In developing your persuasive speech outline you will follow these 5 steps:

  • Attention Grab the audience's attention
  • Need Establish there is a problem (need) demanding their attention
  • Satisfaction Outline a solution to the problem
  • Visualization Show the audience how they will benefit from your solution
  • Action Provide the impetus and means to act

Monroe's five steps in more detail

Now let's examine those steps more closely.

To make the process easier to follow I've prepared a simple example speech illustrating each step and the transitions between them.  That's the text in the green boxes. 

As you read start thinking about your audience and your topic.  Jot any ideas down for later use.

About this sample speech - topic, purpose and audience

The subject  is fear of public speaking.

The specific purpose of the speech is  to persuade and encourage people in the audience to take a course to overcome their fear of public speaking. 

The central idea   of the speech is that the ability to speak in public opens doors to many opportunities.

The audience is  drawn from the local community. They range in age from late teens to forties plus.

The 5 steps of Monroe's motivation sequence 

Getting attention - step 1.

Monroes Motived Sequence -Step 1 Attention

This step is your introductory "listen up" call. To make it effective it needs to grab the audience. It could be any of the following:

  • a startling statement
  • a rhetorical question
  • a quotation
  • a funny story
  • a dramatic story
  • a photograph or other visual aid

Put yourself in the position of your audience when deciding how to hook and hold their attention. Why should they listen to you?  How does what you have to say benefit them? Is it relevant to them? How?

Step one - attention 

Do you know the real costs of public speaking fear?

The price is high.

Research reveals that a person with public speaking fear is 10% less likely to graduate from college, is likely to receive 10% less in wages and is 15% less likely to take on management or leadership positions.

Who pays? You. Me. Us. Anybody who allows fear to govern their decision making. We pay by sacrificing our potential selves, putting our dreams away and settling for less.

Establishing credibility

As well as getting their attention you also need to establish your credibility or right to talk on the subject. Your audience needs to know that they can believe what you're telling them. If they feel they can trust your expertise and experience they will be much more likely to follow your lead. 

Credibility statement

That’s a question I asked myself a long time ago. As a teacher with many years of experience I saw far too many students who would do anything they could to avoid public speaking. To answer it I researched.

Then I used those answers to devise public speaking programs that were effective and fun.

Transition - the link from step 1 to step 2

Can you imagine the positive impact feeling OK about speaking up would have? On individuals? On families? On our community?

E stablish the need - step 2

Monroes Motived Sequence -Step 2 Need

This step develops the need for change. Now that you have your audience's attention you will clearly show them what the problem is and the extent of it.

To be effective use:

  • examples to illustrate how it impacts on them - their happiness, future, health, family, neighborhood...
  • statistics - facts, figures, graphs, diagrams... Remember to cite your sources and remember too that some are more credible than others. You need recognized sources to give your speech the credibility you want.
  • expert witness testimony - the more authoritative, the better

Your goal at the conclusion of this step is to have your audience eager to hear your solution. They agree with you that there is a problem and want the answer.

Step two – Need

A.  According to frequently cited statistics 75%   of people suffer from some degree of glossophobia - fear of speaking in public. Source:    Hamilton, C. (2008) [2005]. Communicating for Results, a Guide for Business and the Professions (eighth edition)

  • At the extreme upper end of this very large group are the people who would literally run a mile rather than speak. For example, they will not apply for promotions if the new position means giving presentations. They will not give a speech at a special family occasion - a wedding, birthday or funeral.  Public speaking makes them ill, literally. There maybe quite a few of you here, so you’ll know exactly what I mean.
  • At the other end of the scale are the people who have one or two butterflies fluttering around – enough to make them register they’re a little nervous about speaking but it’s nothing to worry about. There’s likely not so many of you here. If you have come along, it’s probably to support someone who needs it! Thank you.
  • The majority of us are somewhere in the middle where it’s neither all fine nor all bad. Some days are OK. We manage. And some days it’s definitely not OK. We just hang in there by the skin of our chattering teeth.

B. Bad public speaking experiences often lead to more of the same. History repeats.

  • We focus on the criticism we received and interpret it as a criticism of ourselves. Our speech is bad therefore I am bad. This makes a shaky platform to build public speaking skills and confidence on.
  • When given a presentation to prepare we procrastinate because we don’t feel confident or competent. That means we don’t put the work in which in turn leads to another bad experience. It becomes a vicious circle.
  • When we feel ashamed about ourselves we often close off. We don’t ask for help and it becomes easier to expect less of ourselves and our lives.
  •  Here's those stats again. According to Franklin Schneier, MD, s omeone with public speaking fear is likely to receive 10% less in wages, be 10% more likely to drop out of college and be 15% less likely to apply for leadership or management roles.

C. Begins in youth.

  • “The fear of public speaking is more common in younger patients as compared to older ones and may be more prevalent in females as compared to males,” says Jeffrey R. Strawn, MD, FAACAP, associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics and director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati.
  • More than 75% of people experience their first symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder which often includes fear of public speaking during their childhood or early teenage years - American Psychiatric Association. (2014). Understanding Mental Disorders
  • Let’s conduct a quick informal survey to test that– raise your hand if any anxiety you feel about public speaking began when you were young.

Transition - the link between step 2 and step 3

However there is a way to break this pattern of anxiety. It can be stopped, and everyone who wants to can learn to speak in public confidently.

S atisfy the need - step 3

Monroes Motived Sequence -Step 3  Satisfaction

Now you outline your answer or solution and show the audience how it will work.

To do this well:

  • outline your solution succinctly
  • demonstrate how it meets the problem
  • use examples to show how effective it is
  • support with facts, figures, graphs, diagrams, statistics, testimony...
  • if there is known opposition to your solution, acknowledge and counteract showing how your plan overturns it

The ideal outcome of this step is the audience nodding and saying to themselves: " Yes. This is possible, practical and sensible."   Your answer satisfies them. It gives them  "satisfaction".

Step three - Satisfaction 

A. Come along to an introductory course

  • It's free, led by experienced teachers and especially designed for people with a history of being nervous about speaking in public.
  • Once a week for 4 weeks you'll have 2 hours of practical public speaking training and practice.
  • You'll learn tips and tricks to manage your anxiety, to give varying types of presentations, to effectively structure a speech, and to confidently deliver a speech.

B. When people overcome fear of public speaking there are so many things they can do:

  • Complete their college education and go on to further study if they wanted to
  • Apply for the positions they know would give them greater work satisfaction
  • Speak up when they need to about issues concerning themselves, their family and their community
  • Inspire others to follow their example

C. Exchanging public speaking fear for confidence will help people to:

  • Communicate more effectively
  • Listen more carefully to others
  • Understand the power of the spoken word and what it can achieve

Transition - the link between step 3 and step 4

Can you imagine the positive impact that would have on people’s lives? Maybe yours?

S ee the future - step 4

Monroes Motived Sequence -Step 4  Visualization

In this step the audience "experiences" the solution. They see (feel, hear, taste...) what will happen if they do as you are suggesting contrasted against what will happen if they don't do as you are suggesting.

This step relies on your use of vivid imagery to portray the outcome of their action, or inaction. They see and feel the pleasure, or pain, in their imagination. To bring it home to your audience the pictures you provide, the stories you tell, need to be relevant and believable.

What you want folk thinking as you conclude this step is:  "I can see that this would be good for me."

Step four - Visualization

A. Imagine what society would be like if everyone took full advantage of the educational opportunities that best fitted their interests and abilities. How would that feel?

  • There would be much less personal dissatisfaction and social unrest caused by people working in positions that do not pay very well or extend their skills and well being. That would be much more healthy: physically, emotionally and mentally, for everybody. You could ask for a raise! Apply for that job you always wanted! Give a presentation! Toast your bride!
  • It would generate a ripple effect. People who speak up confidently and competently encourage others to do likewise. People would feel empowered – free to become the best of themselves - shoulders back, head up, standing tall, looking the world straight in the eye!

B. What disadvantages could there possibly be?

  • Perhaps it could uncomfortable for those who have got used to assuming the right to talk for others without consultation. Is that really a bad thing?
  • Perhaps it could lead to robust conversations where there are differing opinions over issues?  Again, is that a bad thing? It could be an opportunity to polish debating skills.
  • There are no real disadvantages! Overcoming public speaking fear is good for everyone. A win-win.

Transition - the link from step 4 to step 5

Let’s do more than imagine speaking in public freely and competently. Let’s take the steps towards making it happen.

T ake action - step 5

Monroes Motived Sequence -Step 5 Action

In this last step you present your call to action.

The call to action can be embedded in any combination of the following:

  • a challenge or appeal
  • a personal statement of intent

To be effective the action step must be readily doable and executed as soon as possible. Make it as easy as you can for your audience. If you want them to sign up for something, have the forms available. If you wish them to lodge a personal protest in writing to your local government have stock letters and envelopes ready. In other words do the leg work for them!

Action steps that are delayed even for 48 hours are less likely to be acted on. We're human - life goes on. Other things intervene and the initial urgency is lost.

Step five – Action

  A. (Summary) Apparently 3/4 of us – 75%, are nervous about public speaking – often the result of a bad experience when were young. That has a direct impact on our adult lives. If we allow it to continue it is likely we will be paid less, fall out of college without graduating and settle for less-challenging jobs. In short – live a lesser life. However it doesn’t have to be like that. We could choose to change. We could become our bigger and best selves.

  B. (Call to Immediate Action)

We could, in the famous words of Susan Jeffers, "Feel the fear and do it anyway!"

I’ve got enrollment forms here for that free introductory public speaking course. That’s four two hour sessions over the next four weeks using tried, tested and proven methods of teaching with experienced instructors. You’ll learn how to prepare and deliver speeches. And you'll swap fear for confidence and competence while having fun!

C. (Memorable Close) Who knows what magic may happen once you speak up!

There are 15 places available. Make one of them yours.


  • Rosemary Black. (2018, June 4)  Glossophobia (Fear of Public Speaking): Are You Glossophobic?     Retrieved from  
  • Franklin Schneier. (2005) Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from:
  • Author and date of publication unknown.  Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from:
  • Doug Staneart. (2018, March). Podcast 29 - How to Scare the Gooey Out of a Nervous Public Speaker. Retrieved from:  

F itting the standard speech format

If you are wondering how these 5 steps of Monroe's Motivated Sequence fit into the standard 3 part speech format , they go like this:

  • Step 1 ( Attention ) forms the Introduction.
  • Steps 2,  3 and 4 ( Need,   Satisfaction and Visualization ) form the Body.
  • Step 5 ( Action ) is the Conclusion.

Download a persuasive speech outline template

And now download printable blank ready-to-complete Monroe's Motivated Sequence  persuasive speech outline template . You'll find the entire 5 step process laid out clearly, ready for you to fill in the gaps.

persuasive speech model text

A sample persuasive speech

Round image - drawing of a child holding a balloon with the word hope inside it.

Want to read a  persuasive speech example ?

This example speech ("After they're gone") follows the sequence outlined on this page.

Before you click through to it you should know the topic is somber; the impact of suicide on family and friends. I wrote it to persuade those in need to seek and accept help and to raise awareness of the issues around suicide.

Persuasive speech topics

persuasive speech model text

Maybe you haven't found the persuasive speech topic you want yet? Check these pages:

- 100 great  persuasive speech ideas  

- 50  good persuasive speech topics

-  205 fun persuasive speech topics

- 309 'easy' persuasive speech topics

-  310 persuasive speech topics for college

- 108 feminist persuasive speech topics

Communication coach Alex Lyon explains

If you'd like more on Monroe's Motivated Sequence  here's a great video with excellent examples from communication coach Alex Lyons. 

dividing line dark green

And lastly, here's the links to those campaigns I mentioned at the top of the page: The Heart Truth ,  National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW)  and STOMP Out Bullying .

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Subscribe for  FREE weekly alerts about what's new For more see  speaking out loud  

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How to Write an Outline for a Persuasive Speech, with Examples

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Jim Peterson has over 20 years experience on speech writing. He wrote over 300 free speech topic ideas and how-to guides for any kind of public speaking and speech writing assignments at My Speech Class.

How to Write an Outline for a Persuasive Speech, with Examples intro image

Persuasive speeches are one of the three most used speeches in our daily lives. Persuasive speech is used when presenters decide to convince their presentation or ideas to their listeners. A compelling speech aims to persuade the listener to believe in a particular point of view. One of the most iconic examples is Martin Luther King’s ‘I had a dream’ speech on the 28th of August 1963.

Man Touches the Word Persuasion on Screen

What is Persuasive Speech?

Persuasive speech is a written and delivered essay to convince people of the speaker’s viewpoint or ideas. Persuasive speaking is the type of speaking people engage in the most. This type of speech has a broad spectrum, from arguing about politics to talking about what to have for dinner. Persuasive speaking is highly connected to the audience, as in a sense, the speaker has to meet the audience halfway.

Persuasive Speech Preparation

Persuasive speech preparation doesn’t have to be difficult, as long as you select your topic wisely and prepare thoroughly.

Here Are Some Steps to Follow:

1. select a topic and angle.

Come up with a controversial topic that will spark a heated debate, regardless of your position. This could be about anything. Choose a topic that you are passionate about. Select a particular angle to focus on to ensure that your topic isn’t too broad. Research the topic thoroughly, focussing on key facts, arguments for and against your angle, and background.

2. Define Your Persuasive Goal

Once you have chosen your topic, it’s time to decide what your goal is to persuade the audience. Are you trying to persuade them in favor of a certain position or issue? Are you hoping that they change their behavior or an opinion due to your speech? Do you want them to decide to purchase something or donate money to a cause? Knowing your goal will help you make wise decisions about approaching writing and presenting your speech.

3. Analyze the Audience

Understanding your audience’s perspective is critical anytime that you are writing a speech. This is even more important when it comes to a persuasive speech because not only are you wanting to get the audience to listen to you, but you are also hoping for them to take a particular action in response to your speech. First, consider who is in the audience. Consider how the audience members are likely to perceive the topic you are speaking on to better relate to them on the subject. Grasp the obstacles audience members face or have regarding the topic so you can build appropriate persuasive arguments to overcome these obstacles.

4. Build an Effective Persuasive Argument

Once you have a clear goal, you are knowledgeable about the topic and, have insights regarding your audience, you will be ready to build an effective persuasive argument to deliver in the form of a persuasive speech. 

Can We Write Your Speech?

Get your audience blown away with help from a professional speechwriter. Free proofreading and copy-editing included.

Start by deciding what persuasive techniques are likely to help you persuade your audience. Would an emotional and psychological appeal to your audience help persuade them? Is there a good way to sway the audience with logic and reason? Is it possible that a bandwagon appeal might be effective?

5. Outline Your Speech

Once you know which persuasive strategies are most likely to be effective, your next step is to create a keyword outline to organize your main points and structure your persuasive speech for maximum impact on the audience.

Start strong, letting your audience know what your topic is, why it matters and, what you hope to achieve at the end of your speech. List your main points, thoroughly covering each point, being sure to build the argument for your position and overcome opposing perspectives. Conclude your speech by appealing to your audience to act in a way that will prove that you persuaded them successfully. Motivation is a big part of persuasion.

6. Deliver a Winning Speech

Select appropriate visual aids to share with your audiences, such as graphs, photos, or illustrations. Practice until you can deliver your speech confidently. Maintain eye contact, project your voice and, avoid using filler words or any form of vocal interference. Let your passion for the subject shine through. Your enthusiasm may be what sways the audience. 

Persuasive Speech Outline

Close-Up of Mans Hands Persuading Someone

Topic: What topic are you trying to persuade your audience on?

Specific Purpose:  

Central idea:

  • Attention grabber – This is potentially the most crucial line. If the audience doesn’t like the opening line, they might be less inclined to listen to the rest of your speech.
  • Thesis – This statement is used to inform the audience of the speaker’s mindset and try to get the audience to see the issue their way.
  • Qualifications – Tell the audience why you are qualified to speak about the topic to persuade them.

After the introductory portion of the speech is over, the speaker starts presenting reasons to the audience to provide support for the statement. After each reason, the speaker will list examples to provide a factual argument to sway listeners’ opinions.

  • Example 1 – Support for the reason given above.
  • Example 2 – Support for the reason given above.

The most important part of a persuasive speech is the conclusion, second to the introduction and thesis statement. This is where the speaker must sum up and tie all of their arguments into an organized and solid point.

  • Summary: Briefly remind the listeners why they should agree with your position.
  • Memorable ending/ Audience challenge: End your speech with a powerful closing thought or recommend a course of action.
  • Thank the audience for listening.

Persuasive Speech Outline Examples

Male and Female Whispering into the Ear of Another Female

Topic: Walking frequently can improve both your mental and physical health.

Specific Purpose: To persuade the audience to start walking to improve their health.

Central idea: Regular walking can improve your mental and physical health.

Life has become all about convenience and ease lately. We have dishwashers, so we don’t have to wash dishes by hand with electric scooters, so we don’t have to paddle while riding. I mean, isn’t it ridiculous?

Today’s luxuries have been welcomed by the masses. They have also been accused of turning us into passive, lethargic sloths. As a reformed sloth, I know how easy it can be to slip into the convenience of things and not want to move off the couch. I want to persuade you to start walking.

Americans lead a passive lifestyle at the expense of their own health.

  • This means that we spend approximately 40% of our leisure time in front of the TV.
  • Ironically, it is also reported that Americans don’t like many of the shows that they watch.
  • Today’s studies indicate that people were experiencing higher bouts of depression than in the 18th and 19th centuries, when work and life were considered problematic.
  • The article reports that 12.6% of Americans suffer from anxiety, and 9.5% suffer from severe depression.
  • Present the opposition’s claim and refute an argument.
  • Nutritionist Phyllis Hall stated that we tend to eat foods high in fat, which produces high levels of cholesterol in our blood, which leads to plaque build-up in our arteries.
  • While modifying our diet can help us decrease our risk for heart disease, studies have indicated that people who don’t exercise are at an even greater risk.

In closing, I urge you to start walking more. Walking is a simple, easy activity. Park further away from stores and walk. Walk instead of driving to your nearest convenience store. Take 20 minutes and enjoy a walk around your neighborhood. Hide the TV remote, move off the couch and, walk. Do it for your heart.

Thank you for listening!

Topic: Less screen time can improve your sleep.

Specific Purpose: To persuade the audience to stop using their screens two hours before bed.

Central idea: Ceasing electronics before bed will help you achieve better sleep.

Who doesn’t love to sleep? I don’t think I have ever met anyone who doesn’t like getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep is essential for our bodies to rest and repair themselves.

I love sleeping and, there is no way that I would be able to miss out on a good night’s sleep.

As someone who has had trouble sleeping due to taking my phone into bed with me and laying in bed while entertaining myself on my phone till I fall asleep, I can say that it’s not the healthiest habit, and we should do whatever we can to change it.

  • Our natural blue light source is the sun.
  • Bluelight is designed to keep us awake.
  • Bluelight makes our brain waves more active.
  • We find it harder to sleep when our brain waves are more active.
  • Having a good night’s rest will improve your mood.
  • Being fully rested will increase your productivity.

Using electronics before bed will stimulate your brainwaves and make it more difficult for you to sleep. Bluelight tricks our brains into a false sense of daytime and, in turn, makes it more difficult for us to sleep. So, put down those screens if you love your sleep!

Thank the audience for listening

Final Thoughts

A persuasive speech is used to convince the audience of the speaker standing on a certain subject. To have a successful persuasive speech, doing the proper planning and executing your speech with confidence will help persuade the audience of your standing on the topic you chose. Persuasive speeches are used every day in the world around us, from planning what’s for dinner to arguing about politics. It is one of the most widely used forms of speech and, with proper planning and execution, you can sway any audience.

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15 Persuasive Speeches

Speeches that Make a Change

In this chapter . . .

For many public speeches, the specific purpose is to convince the audience of a particular opinion or claim or to convince them to take some action in response to the speech. When your intention is to affect change in your audience (not just the acquisition of knowledge) then you are delivering a persuasive speech. In this chapter you will learn about the elements of persuasion, why persuasion is difficult, and how to overcome people’s resistance to change by using effective and ethical methods.

Although a persuasive speech involves information—even as much as an informative speech—the key difference is that a persuasive speech is designed for “creating, reinforcing, or changing people’s beliefs or actions” (Lucas, 2015. p. 306). A persuasive speech makes something happen. In other words, it performs a job.

Traditional Views of Persuasion

In the fourth century BCE, the classic philosopher Aristotle took up the study of the public practices of the ruling class in Athenian society. For two years he observed the  rhetoric  (the art of persuasion) of the men who spoke in the assembly and the courts. In the end, he developed a theory about persuasiveness that has come down to us in history as a treatise called Rhetoric. Among his many ideas was the identification of three elements essential to persuasion: ethos, logos, and pathos. In short, they mean credibility, reasonability, and emotion.

Ethos has come to mean speaker character and credentials. It is the element that establishes the audience’s trust in you as a speaker. A speaker’s credibility is based on who the speaker is and what they know: experience, education, expertise, and background. If you’re delivering a persuasive speech about adopting a pet from a shelter and you have raised several shelter dogs, then you have credibility through experience and should share that fact about yourself with the audience to enhance their trust in your persuasive argument. Another way to establish your credibility is through research sources. You may not be an expert in climate change, but if you were giving a persuasive speech about it, you can cite reliable authoritative sources.

The word ethos looks very much like the word “ethics,” and there are many close parallels to the trust an audience has in a speaker and their honesty and ethical stance. In terms of ethics, it goes without saying that your speech will be truthful.

In addition to expertise and truthfulness is your personal involvement in the topic. Ideally you have chosen the topic because it means something to you personally. Audiences will have more trust in you if they feel you have something as stake or something personal in the subject. For example, perhaps your speech is designed to motivate audience members to take action against bullying in schools, and it’s important to you because you work with the Boys and Girls Club organization and have seen how anti-bullying programs can have positive results. Sharing your own involvement and commitment is key to establishing your credibility on this topic.

Logos is the second key element in Aristotle’s theory of rhetoric. Related to our word “logic,” the Greek term logos in persuasion means presenting ideas that appeal to logic or reason. Logos in a speech pertain to arguments that the audience would find acceptable. Imagine a speech, for example, which has the goal of persuading an audience to adopt healthier eating habits. Would the speech be effective if the arguments focused on how expensive organic foods are? Of course not.

Logic and reason are persuasive not only as matters of content.  Logos  pertains to organization, as well. An effective persuasive speech presents arguments in an organized fashion.

In words like “empathy,” “sympathy,” and “compassion” we see the root word behind the Greek word pathos. Pathos, for Aristotle, meant exciting emotions such as anger, joy, hate, love, and desire to persuade the audience of the rightness of a proposition. In a positive sense, appealing to the emotions of the audience is a highly effective persuasive tool. In the earlier example of a speech designed to encourage an audience to take action against bullying in schools, including a touching story about a student experiencing bullying would make the audience more likely to support your call for action.

However, we recognize that pathos can be used in a negative way. Emotional appeals that use anger, guilt, hatred, inflammatory language like name-calling, or that try to frighten the audience with horrible images, are counter-productive and even unethical. They might incite emotion in the audience, but they are poor uses of pathos.

One negative emotion used frequently by persuasive speakers is fear. Candidates for political office, for example, often try to provoke fear to move us to vote for them. Intense, over-the-top fear appeals, based on factual falsehoods or cherry-picking, and/or including shocking photos, are not ethical and are often dismissed by discerning audience members. Appealing to the emotion of fear can be ethical if it’s managed carefully. This means being strictly factual and avoiding extremes.

Persuasion and the Audience

It makes sense that if a speaker wants to affect the audience’s beliefs or actions, then the speaker must be perfectly clear about their expectations. If you were listening to a persuasive speech call for your audience to support animals, wouldn’t you want to know exactly what “support” the speaker was talking about? Giving money to charities? Volunteering at an animal shelter? Writing state legislators and urging them to change laws? Your job as a persuasive speaker is to be clear about what you want to create, reinforce, or change in your audience.

For your speech to have persuasive power, you must also consider your audience and choose a goal that is feasible for them. Persuasion isn’t an on/off switch. It’s more like a thermometer. Skillful persuasive speakers respect and identify a persuasive goal that is calibrated to the audience. Think of persuasion as a continuum or line going both directions. At one end is strong disagreement. At the other end is strong agreement. Your audience members, either as a group or individually, are sitting somewhere on that line in relation to your central idea statement, or what we are going to call a proposition in this chapter.

Persuasion Scale

For example, your speech proposition might be something like “The main cause of climate change is human activity.” You are claiming that climate change is due to the harmful things that humans have done to the environment. To be an effective persuasive speaker, one of your first jobs after choosing this topic would be to determine where your audience “sits” on the continuum.

+ 3 means strongly agree to the point of making lifestyle choices to lessen climate change (such as riding a bike instead of driving a car, recycling, eating certain kinds of foods, and advocating for government policy changes). + 2 means agree but not to the point of acting upon it or only acting on it in small ways. + 1 as mildly agrees with your proposition; that is, they think it’s probably true, but the issue doesn’t affect them personally. 0 means neutral, no opinion, or feeling too uninformed to decide. – 1 means mildly opposed to the proposition but willing to listen to those with whom they disagree. – 2 means disagreement to the point of dismissing the idea pretty quickly. – 3 means strong opposition to the point that the concept of climate change itself isn’t even listened to or acknowledged as a valid subject.

Since everyone in the audience is somewhere on this line or continuum, you can accept the fact that any movement toward +3 or to the right is a win. Trying to change an audience from -3 (strong disagreement) to +3 (strong agreement) in a single speech would be quite impossible. When you understand this, you can make strategic choices about the content of your speech.

In this example, if you knew that most of the audience was at -2 or -3, your speech could focus on opening their minds to the possibility of climate change and provide the science behind human causes. On the other hand, if you knew your audience was at +1 or +2, you could focus on urging them to take bold steps, like giving up their gasoline-powered vehicles.

A proposition is assumed to be in some way controversial, or a “stretch” for the audience. Some people in the audience will disagree with your proposition or at least have no opinion; they are not “on your side.”

There will be those in the audience who disagree with your proposition but who are willing to listen. Some members of the audience may already agree with you, although they don’t know why. Both groups could be called the  target audience . At the same time, another cluster of your audience may be extremely opposed to your position to the degree that they probably will not give you a fair hearing. They probably can’t be persuaded. Focus on your target audience, they are the one you can persuade.

Why is Persuasion Hard?

Persuasion is hard mainly because we have a bias against change. We go out of our way to protect our beliefs, attitudes, and values. We selectively expose ourselves to messages that we already agree with, rather than those that confront or challenge us. We find it uncomfortable to be confronted with conflicting information or viewpoints.

Additionally, during a persuasive speech the audience members are holding a mental dialogue with the speaker or at least the speaker’s content. The processes that the human mind goes through while it listens to a persuasive message is like a silent conversation. In their minds, audience members are producing doubts or reservations about your proposal. If we could listen in on one of these conversations, it might go something like this:

Speaker: Switching to a plant-based diet is the best action you can take to support a reduction in the CO-2 emissions harming the climate. Audience Member Mind: Yeah, I hear what you’re saying, but eating like that won’t give me enough protein.

The audience member has a doubt or reservation about the speaker’s proposal. We can call these doubts “yeah, buts” because the audience members are thinking, “Yeah, but what about—?”  It’s a skill of good persuasion speechwriting to anticipate reservations.

Solutions to the Difficulty of Persuasion

With these reasons for the resistance audience members have to persuasion, what is a speaker to do? Here are some strategies.

First, choose a feasible goal for the persuasive action you want the audience to take. Going back to our continuum, trying to move an audience from -3 to +2 or +3 is too big a move. Having reasonable persuasive goals is the first way to meet resistance. Even moving someone from -3 to -2 is progress, and over time these small shifts can eventually result in a significant amount of persuasion.

Secondly, as speakers we must address reservations. While speechwriters aren’t mind-readers, we can easily imagine reservations about our proposition and build a response to those reservations into the speech. Using the example above, a speaker might say:

Switching to a plant-based diet is the best action you can take to support a reduction in the CO-2 emissions harming the climate. I urge all of you to consider this important dietary change. Perhaps you are thinking that a plant-based diet won’t provide enough protein. That is a common concern. Nutritionists at the website Forks Over Knives explain how the staples of a PB diet—whole grains, legumes, and nuts—provide ample protein.

Here, the speaker acknowledges a valid reservation and then offers a rebuttal. This is called a two-tailed argument. The speaker articulates a possible argument against their proposition and then refutes it.

The third strategy is to keep in mind that since you are asking the audience to change something, they must view the benefits of the change as worth the stress of the change. In effect, audiences want to know: “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM). As a speaker, you should give thought to that question and in your speech address the benefit, advantage, or improvement that the audience will gain by taking the action you propose.

Structure of a Persuasive Speech

A persuasive speech shares with an informational speech the same four elements for a strongly structured speech: introduction, body, conclusion, and connectors. Like informative speeches, preparation requires thoughtful attention to the given circumstances of the speech occasion, as well as audience analysis in terms of demographic and psychographic features. That said, there are some elements unique to a persuasive speech.

General and Specific Purpose General Purpose: To Persuade Specific Purpose: To motivate my audience of campus administrators to provide LGBTQ+ safe spaces on campus.

This looks familiar up to this point. The general purpose is one of the three broad speech goals (to instruct, to persuade, to inspire or entertain). The specific purpose statement follows a clear T.W.A.C. pattern:

T o +  W ord: To convince A udience: campus administrators C ontent: LGBTQ+ safe spaces

What is unique to persuasive speeches is what comes next, the proposition.


Informational speeches require a thesis. This is the central idea of the speech; its “takeaway.” Persuasive speeches equally require a strong focus on the main idea, but we call this something else: a  proposition . A proposition is a statement that expresses a judgement or opinion about which you want audience in agreement. Remember that propositions must be something that can be argued. To say, “The earth is round” isn’t a proposition. “The earth is flat” is a proposition.

  • Converting to solar energy saves homeowners money.
  • A vegan diet is the most ethical way to eat.
  • Universities should provide on-line learning options for all classes.
  • The Constitution’s Second Amendment does not include possession of automatic weapons for private use.

Like a thesis statement for an informative speech, a proposition statement is best when it not only clearly states the judgment or opinion for which you seek audience agreement, but also provides a succinct preview of the reasons for that judgement.

Universities should provide LGBTQ+ safe spaces on campus to promote visibility, build community, and protect well-being for LGBTQ+ students and their allies.

Types of Propositions

If you take a closer look at the propositions above, you’ll notice that they suggest several types of persuasion. In fact, there are several broad categories of propositions, determined by their primary goal. These are: a) propositions of fact, b) propositions of value, c) propositions of policy, and d) propositions of definition.

Proposition of Fact

Speeches with this type of proposition attempt to establish the truth of a statement. The core of the proposition isn’t whether something is morally right or wrong, only that a statement is supported by evidence or not. These propositions are not facts such as “the chemical symbol for water is H20.” Rather, propositions of fact are statements over which people disagree and there is evidence on both sides. Some examples of propositions of fact are:

  • Experiments using animals are essential to the development of many life-saving medical procedures.
  • Climate change has been caused by human activity.

Notice that in none of these are any values—good or bad—mentioned. The point of these propositions is to prove with evidence the truth of a statement.

Proposition of Value

Propositions of fact have the primary purpose of arguing that something exists in a particular way. Propositions of value, on the other hand, have as their primary purpose to argue that one thing is better than another. When the proposition has a word such as “good,” “bad,” “best,” “worst,” “just,” “unjust,” “ethical,” “unethical,” “moral,” “immoral,” “beneficial,” “harmful,” “advantageous,” or “disadvantageous,” then it’s a proposition of value. Some examples include:

  • Hybrid cars are the best form of automobile transportation available today.
  • Mascots that involve Native American names, characters, and symbols are unjust.

Propositions of value require a first step: defining the “value” word. If you are trying to convince your audience that something is “unjust,” you will have to make clear what you mean by that term. For different people, “best” might mean “safest,” “least expensive,” “most environmentally responsible,” “stylish,” “powerful,” or “prestigious.” Obviously, in the case of the first proposition above, it means “environmentally responsible.” It’s the first job of the speaker, after introducing the speech and stating the proposition, to explain what “best form of automobile transportation” means. Then the proposition would be defended with separate arguments.

Proposition of Policy

These propositions are easy to identify because they almost always have the word “should” in them. These propositions call for a change in policy or practice (including those in a government, community, or school), or they can call for the audience to adopt a certain behavior.

  • The federal government should act to ensure clean water standards for all citizens.
  • Universities should eliminate attendance requirements.
  • States should lower taxes on food.

The proposition determines the approach to the speech, especially the organization. The exact phrasing of the proposition should be carefully done to be reasonable, positive, and appropriate for the context and audience.

Propositions of Definition

Propositions of definitions argue that a word, phrase, or concept has a particular meaning. Lawyers, legislators, and scholars often write briefs, present persuasive speeches, or compose articles to define terms that are vital to defendants, citizens, or disciplines. Some examples might be:

  • The Second Amendment to the Constitution does not include possession of automatic weapons for private use.
  • Alcoholism should be considered a disease because…
  • Thomas Jefferson’s definition of inalienable rights did not include a right to privacy.

In each of these examples, the proposition is that the definition of these things needs to be changed or viewed differently, but the audience isn’t asked to change an attitude or action.

These are not strict categories. A proposition of value most likely contains elements of facts and definitions, for example. However, identifying the primary category for a persuasive speech focuses the speaker on the ultimate purpose of the speech.


Once you know your proposition, the next step is to make your case for your judgement or opinion through clear and distinct points. These are the main points of the body of your persuasive speech. We call these the “pro” or “for” arguments. You should present at least three distinct arguments in favor of your proposition. Expanding on the example above,

General Purpose: To Persuade Specific Purpose:  To motivate my audience of campus administrators to provide LGBTQ+ safe spaces on campus. Proposition: Universities should provide LGBTQ+ safe spaces on campus in order to promote visibility, build community, and protect well-being for LGBTQ+ students and their allies.

Three pro-arguments for the proposition are:

Pro-Argument #1: Creating a safe space makes LGBTQ+ community more visible and central to campus life, instead of marginalized. Pro-Argument #2: Safe spaces create a place where LGBTQ+ and their allies learn to build networks, friendship, and support circles. Pro-Argument #3: With a safe and centralized space bringing together this community, instances of bias or harassment can be brought to counselors, making for a safer community.

Two-Tailed Arguments

There is one more crucial element following pro-arguments. These are unique to persuasive speeches. As discussed above, it’s essential to anticipate and address audience reservations about your propositions. These are the two-tailed arguments that articulate the reservation and then address it or refute it. In the example we’re using, such a statement might look like this:

“Perhaps you are thinking that an LGBTQ+ safe space isn’t necessary on campus because there are already places on campus that provide this function. I understand that concern. However, a space that is officially provided by the University provides access to resources with trained personnel. The national organization CampusPride provides training to university facilitators for exactly this reason.”

There are some techniques for rebuttal or refutation that work better than others. You would not want to say, “If you are one of the people who believe this about my proposition, you are wrong.” It’s better to say that their reservations are “misconceptions,” “myths,” or “mistaken ideas” that are commonly held about the proposition.

Building Upon Your Persuasive Speech’s Arguments

Once you have constructed the key arguments, it’s time to be sure the main points are well supported with evidence.

First, your evidence should be from sources that the audience will find credible. If you can find the same essential information from two sources but know that the audience will find the information more credible from one source than another, use and cite the information from the more credible one. For example, if you find the same statistical data on Wikipedia and the US Department of Labor’s website, cite the US Department of Labor. Audiences also accept information from sources they consider unbiased or indifferent. Gallup polls, for example, have been considered reliable sources of survey data because unlike some organizations, Gallup does not have a cause (political or otherwise) it’s supporting.

Secondly, your evidence should be new to the audience. New evidence is more attention-getting, and you will appear more credible if you tell the audience something new (as long as you cite it well) than if you use the “same old, same old” evidence they have heard before.

Third, in order to be effective and ethical, your supporting evidence should be relevant and not used out of context, manipulated, or edited to change its meaning.

After choosing the evidence and apportioning it to the correct parts of the speech, you will want to consider the use of metaphors, quotations, rhetorical devices, and narratives that will enhance the language and “listenability” of your speech. Narratives are especially good for introduction and conclusions, to get attention and to leave the audience with something dramatic. You might refer to the narrative in the introduction again in the conclusion to give the speech a sense of finality.

Lastly, you will want to decide if you should use any type of presentation aid for the speech. The decision to use visuals such as PowerPoint slides or a video clip in a persuasive speech should take into consideration the effect of the visuals on the audience and the time allotted for the speech. The charts, graphs, or photographs you use should be focused and credibly done.

Organization of a Persuasive Speech

You can see that the overall structure of a persuasive speech follows a common model: introduction, body (arguments and support), two-tailed arguments, and conclusion. Study the example at the end of this chapter to see this structure in action.

In speechwriting, you can think of a speech structure like the building of a house and organization like the arrangement of the rooms within it. As with other speeches, persuasive speeches can be organized topically, chronologically, or spatially. However, persuasive speeches often follow a problem-solution or problem-cause-solution pattern.

Organization for a proposition of fact

If your proposition is one of fact or definition, it will be best to use a topical organization for the body of your speech. That means that you will have two to four discrete, separate topics in support of the proposition.

Proposition: Converting to solar energy saves homeowners money.

  • (Pro-Argument 1) Solar energy can be economical to install.
  • (Pro-Argument 2) The government awards grants for solar.
  • (Pro-Argument 3) Solar energy reduces power bills.
  • (Pro-Argument 4) Solar energy requires less money for maintenance.

Organization for a proposition of value

A persuasive speech that incorporates a proposition of value will have a slightly different structure. A proposition of value must first define the “value” word for clarity and provide a basis for the other arguments of the speech. Then the pro-arguments for the proposition based on the definition.

Proposition: Hybrid cars are the best form of automotive transportation available today.

  • (Definition of value) Automotive transportation that is best meets three standards: dependable, economical, and environmentally responsible.
  • (Pro-Argument 1) Studies show that hybrid cars are durable and dependable.
  • (Pro-Argument 2) Hybrid cars are fuel-efficient.
  • (Pro-Argument 3) Hybrid cars are environmentally responsible.

Organization for a propositions of policy

The most common type of outline organizations for speeches with propositions of policy is problem-solution or problem-cause-solution. Typically, we don’t feel any motivation to change unless we are convinced that some harm, problem, need, or deficiency exists, and even more, that it affects us personally. Therefore, the organization of a speech about policy needs to first explain the problem and its cause, followed by the solution in the form of 3-5 pro-arguments.

Proposition: Universities should provide on-line learning options for all classes.

  • (Problem) Regular attendance in a physical classroom is no longer possible for all students.
  • (Cause) Changes brought about by the COVID pandemic have made guaranteed classroom attendance difficult.
  • (Pro-Argument 1) Providing on-line learning options protects the health of students.
  • (Pro-Argument 2) On-line learning serves students who cannot come to campus.
  • (Pro-Argument 3) Access to on-line learning allows students to maintain employment while still going to school.

To complete this outline, along with introduction and conclusion, your pro-arguments should be supported with fact, quotations, and statistics.

Your persuasive speech in class, as well as in real life, is an opportunity to share a passion or cause that you believe will matter to society and help the audience live a better life. Even if you are initially uncomfortable with the idea of persuasion, we use it all the time in diverse ways. Choose your topic based on your commitment and experience, look for quality evidence, craft your proposition so that it will be clear and audience appropriate, and put the finishing touches on it with an eye toward enhancing your logos , ethos , and pathos .

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How to Write and Structure a Persuasive Speech

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The purpose of a persuasive speech is to convince your audience to agree with an idea or opinion that you present. First, you'll need to choose a side on a controversial topic, then you will write a speech to explain your position, and convince the audience to agree with you.

You can produce an effective persuasive speech if you structure your argument as a solution to a problem. Your first job as a speaker is to convince your audience that a particular problem is important to them, and then you must convince them that you have the solution to make things better.

Note: You don't have to address a real problem. Any need can work as the problem. For example, you could consider the lack of a pet, the need to wash one's hands, or the need to pick a particular sport to play as the "problem."

As an example, let's imagine that you have chosen "Getting Up Early" as your persuasion topic. Your goal will be to persuade classmates to get themselves out of bed an hour earlier every morning. In this instance, the problem could be summed up as "morning chaos."

A standard speech format has an introduction with a great hook statement, three main points, and a summary. Your persuasive speech will be a tailored version of this format.

Before you write the text of your speech, you should sketch an outline that includes your hook statement and three main points.

Writing the Text

The introduction of your speech must be compelling because your audience will make up their minds within a few minutes whether or not they are interested in your topic.

Before you write the full body you should come up with a greeting. Your greeting can be as simple as "Good morning everyone. My name is Frank."

After your greeting, you will offer a hook to capture attention. A hook sentence for the "morning chaos" speech could be a question:

  • How many times have you been late for school?
  • Does your day begin with shouts and arguments?
  • Have you ever missed the bus?

Or your hook could be a statistic or surprising statement:

  • More than 50 percent of high school students skip breakfast because they just don't have time to eat.
  • Tardy kids drop out of school more often than punctual kids.

Once you have the attention of your audience, follow through to define the topic/problem and introduce your solution. Here's an example of what you might have so far:

Good afternoon, class. Some of you know me, but some of you may not. My name is Frank Godfrey, and I have a question for you. Does your day begin with shouts and arguments? Do you go to school in a bad mood because you've been yelled at, or because you argued with your parent? The chaos you experience in the morning can bring you down and affect your performance at school.

Add the solution:

You can improve your mood and your school performance by adding more time to your morning schedule. You can accomplish this by setting your alarm clock to go off one hour earlier.

Your next task will be to write the body, which will contain the three main points you've come up with to argue your position. Each point will be followed by supporting evidence or anecdotes, and each body paragraph will need to end with a transition statement that leads to the next segment. Here is a sample of three main statements:

  • Bad moods caused by morning chaos will affect your workday performance.
  • If you skip breakfast to buy time, you're making a harmful health decision.
  • (Ending on a cheerful note) You'll enjoy a boost to your self-esteem when you reduce the morning chaos.

After you write three body paragraphs with strong transition statements that make your speech flow, you are ready to work on your summary.

Your summary will re-emphasize your argument and restate your points in slightly different language. This can be a little tricky. You don't want to sound repetitive but will need to repeat what you have said. Find a way to reword the same main points.

Finally, you must make sure to write a clear final sentence or passage to keep yourself from stammering at the end or fading off in an awkward moment. A few examples of graceful exits:

  • We all like to sleep. It's hard to get up some mornings, but rest assured that the reward is well worth the effort.
  • If you follow these guidelines and make the effort to get up a little bit earlier every day, you'll reap rewards in your home life and on your report card.

Tips for Writing Your Speech

  • Don't be confrontational in your argument. You don't need to put down the other side; just convince your audience that your position is correct by using positive assertions.
  • Use simple statistics. Don't overwhelm your audience with confusing numbers.
  • Don't complicate your speech by going outside the standard "three points" format. While it might seem simplistic, it is a tried and true method for presenting to an audience who is listening as opposed to reading.
  • How to Write a Persuasive Essay
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  • Tips on How to Write an Argumentative Essay
  • Writing an Opinion Essay
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  • How to Structure an Essay
  • Ethos, Logos, Pathos for Persuasion
  • What Is Expository Writing?
  • Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition
  • Audience Analysis in Speech and Composition
  • 100 Persuasive Speech Topics for Students
  • What an Essay Is and How to Write One
  • How to Write a Good Thesis Statement
  • How to Write a Graduation Speech as Valedictorian
  • How to Write a Letter of Complaint

Module 10: Persuasive Speaking

Structure of a persuasive speech, learning objectives.

Identify characteristic structures of a persuasive speech.

In many ways, a persuasive speech is structured like an informative speech. It has an introduction with an attention-getter and a clear thesis statement. It also has a body where the speaker presents their main points and it ends with a conclusion that sums up the main point of the speech.

The biggest difference is that the primary purpose of an informative speech is to explain whereas the primary purpose of a persuasive speech is to advocate the audience adopt a point of view or take a course of action. A persuasive speech, in other words, is an argument  supported by well-thought-out reasons and relevant, appropriate, and credible supporting evidence.

We can classify persuasive speeches into three broad categories:

  • The widely used pesticide Atrazine is extremely harmful to amphibians.
  • All house-cats should  be kept indoors to protect the songbird population.
  • Offshore tax havens, while legal, are immoral and unpatriotic .

The organizational pattern we select and the type of supporting material we use should support the overall argument we are making.

The informative speech organizational patterns we covered earlier can work for a persuasive speech as well. In addition, the following organization patterns are especially suited to persuasive speeches (these are covered in more detail in Module 6: Organizing and Outlining Your Speech):

  • Causal : Also known as cause-effect, the causal pattern describes some cause and then identifies what effects resulted from the cause. This can be a useful pattern to use when you are speaking about the positive or negative consequences of taking a particular action.
  • Problem-solution : With this organizational pattern, you provide two main points. The first main point focuses on a problem that exists and the second details your proposed solution to the problem. This is an especially good organization pattern for speeches arguing for policy changes.
  • Problem-cause-solution: This is a variation of the problem-solution organizational pattern. A three-step organizational pattern where the speaker starts by explaining the problem, then explains the causes of the problem, and lastly proposes a solution to the problem.
  • Comparative advantage : A speaker compares two or more things or ideas and explains why one of the things or ideas has more advantages or is better than the other.
  • Monroe’s motivated sequence : An organizational pattern that is a more elaborate variation of the problem-cause-solution pattern.  We’ll go into more depth on Monroe’s motivated sequence on the next page.
  • Structure of a Persuasive Speech. Authored by : Mike Randolph with Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution

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11.2 Persuasive Speaking

Learning objectives.

  • Explain how claims, evidence, and warrants function to create an argument.
  • Identify strategies for choosing a persuasive speech topic.
  • Identify strategies for adapting a persuasive speech based on an audience’s orientation to the proposition.
  • Distinguish among propositions of fact, value, and policy.
  • Choose an organizational pattern that is fitting for a persuasive speech topic.

We produce and receive persuasive messages daily, but we don’t often stop to think about how we make the arguments we do or the quality of the arguments that we receive. In this section, we’ll learn the components of an argument, how to choose a good persuasive speech topic, and how to adapt and organize a persuasive message.

Foundation of Persuasion

Persuasive speaking seeks to influence the beliefs, attitudes, values, or behaviors of audience members. In order to persuade, a speaker has to construct arguments that appeal to audience members. Arguments form around three components: claim, evidence, and warrant. The claim is the statement that will be supported by evidence. Your thesis statement is the overarching claim for your speech, but you will make other claims within the speech to support the larger thesis. Evidence , also called grounds, supports the claim. The main points of your persuasive speech and the supporting material you include serve as evidence. For example, a speaker may make the following claim: “There should be a national law against texting while driving.” The speaker could then support the claim by providing the following evidence: “Research from the US Department of Transportation has found that texting while driving creates a crash risk that is twenty-three times worse than driving while not distracted.” The warrant is the underlying justification that connects the claim and the evidence. One warrant for the claim and evidence cited in this example is that the US Department of Transportation is an institution that funds research conducted by credible experts. An additional and more implicit warrant is that people shouldn’t do things they know are unsafe.

Figure 11.2 Components of an Argument


The quality of your evidence often impacts the strength of your warrant, and some warrants are stronger than others. A speaker could also provide evidence to support their claim advocating for a national ban on texting and driving by saying, “I have personally seen people almost wreck while trying to text.” While this type of evidence can also be persuasive, it provides a different type and strength of warrant since it is based on personal experience. In general, the anecdotal evidence from personal experience would be given a weaker warrant than the evidence from the national research report. The same process works in our legal system when a judge evaluates the connection between a claim and evidence. If someone steals my car, I could say to the police, “I’m pretty sure Mario did it because when I said hi to him on campus the other day, he didn’t say hi back, which proves he’s mad at me.” A judge faced with that evidence is unlikely to issue a warrant for Mario’s arrest. Fingerprint evidence from the steering wheel that has been matched with a suspect is much more likely to warrant arrest.

As you put together a persuasive argument, you act as the judge. You can evaluate arguments that you come across in your research by analyzing the connection (the warrant) between the claim and the evidence. If the warrant is strong, you may want to highlight that argument in your speech. You may also be able to point out a weak warrant in an argument that goes against your position, which you could then include in your speech. Every argument starts by putting together a claim and evidence, but arguments grow to include many interrelated units.

Choosing a Persuasive Speech Topic

As with any speech, topic selection is important and is influenced by many factors. Good persuasive speech topics are current, controversial, and have important implications for society. If your topic is currently being discussed on television, in newspapers, in the lounges in your dorm, or around your family’s dinner table, then it’s a current topic. A persuasive speech aimed at getting audience members to wear seat belts in cars wouldn’t have much current relevance, given that statistics consistently show that most people wear seat belts. Giving the same speech would have been much more timely in the 1970s when there was a huge movement to increase seat-belt use.

Many topics that are current are also controversial, which is what gets them attention by the media and citizens. Current and controversial topics will be more engaging for your audience. A persuasive speech to encourage audience members to donate blood or recycle wouldn’t be very controversial, since the benefits of both practices are widely agreed on. However, arguing that the restrictions on blood donation by men who have had sexual relations with men be lifted would be controversial. I must caution here that controversial is not the same as inflammatory. An inflammatory topic is one that evokes strong reactions from an audience for the sake of provoking a reaction. Being provocative for no good reason or choosing a topic that is extremist will damage your credibility and prevent you from achieving your speech goals.

You should also choose a topic that is important to you and to society as a whole. As we have already discussed in this book, our voices are powerful, as it is through communication that we participate and make change in society. Therefore we should take seriously opportunities to use our voices to speak publicly. Choosing a speech topic that has implications for society is probably a better application of your public speaking skills than choosing to persuade the audience that Lebron James is the best basketball player in the world or that Superman is a better hero than Spiderman. Although those topics may be very important to you, they don’t carry the same social weight as many other topics you could choose to discuss. Remember that speakers have ethical obligations to the audience and should take the opportunity to speak seriously.

You will also want to choose a topic that connects to your own interests and passions. If you are an education major, it might make more sense to do a persuasive speech about funding for public education than the death penalty. If there are hot-button issues for you that make you get fired up and veins bulge out in your neck, then it may be a good idea to avoid those when speaking in an academic or professional context.


Choose a persuasive speech topic that you’re passionate about but still able to approach and deliver in an ethical manner.

Michael Vadon – Nigel Farage – CC BY-SA 2.0.

Choosing such topics may interfere with your ability to deliver a speech in a competent and ethical manner. You want to care about your topic, but you also want to be able to approach it in a way that’s going to make people want to listen to you. Most people tune out speakers they perceive to be too ideologically entrenched and write them off as extremists or zealots.

You also want to ensure that your topic is actually persuasive. Draft your thesis statement as an “I believe” statement so your stance on an issue is clear. Also, think of your main points as reasons to support your thesis. Students end up with speeches that aren’t very persuasive in nature if they don’t think of their main points as reasons. Identifying arguments that counter your thesis is also a good exercise to help ensure your topic is persuasive. If you can clearly and easily identify a competing thesis statement and supporting reasons, then your topic and approach are arguable.

Review of Tips for Choosing a Persuasive Speech Topic

  • Not current. People should use seat belts.
  • Current. People should not text while driving.
  • Not controversial. People should recycle.
  • Controversial. Recycling should be mandatory by law.
  • Not as impactful. Superman is the best superhero.
  • Impactful. Colleges and universities should adopt zero-tolerance bullying policies.
  • Unclear thesis. Homeschooling is common in the United States.
  • Clear, argumentative thesis with stance. Homeschooling does not provide the same benefits of traditional education and should be strictly monitored and limited.

Adapting Persuasive Messages

Competent speakers should consider their audience throughout the speech-making process. Given that persuasive messages seek to directly influence the audience in some way, audience adaptation becomes even more important. If possible, poll your audience to find out their orientation toward your thesis. I read my students’ thesis statements aloud and have the class indicate whether they agree with, disagree with, or are neutral in regards to the proposition. It is unlikely that you will have a homogenous audience, meaning that there will probably be some who agree, some who disagree, and some who are neutral. So you may employ all of the following strategies, in varying degrees, in your persuasive speech.

When you have audience members who already agree with your proposition, you should focus on intensifying their agreement. You can also assume that they have foundational background knowledge of the topic, which means you can take the time to inform them about lesser-known aspects of a topic or cause to further reinforce their agreement. Rather than move these audience members from disagreement to agreement, you can focus on moving them from agreement to action. Remember, calls to action should be as specific as possible to help you capitalize on audience members’ motivation in the moment so they are more likely to follow through on the action.

There are two main reasons audience members may be neutral in regards to your topic: (1) they are uninformed about the topic or (2) they do not think the topic affects them. In this case, you should focus on instilling a concern for the topic. Uninformed audiences may need background information before they can decide if they agree or disagree with your proposition. If the issue is familiar but audience members are neutral because they don’t see how the topic affects them, focus on getting the audience’s attention and demonstrating relevance. Remember that concrete and proxemic supporting materials will help an audience find relevance in a topic. Students who pick narrow or unfamiliar topics will have to work harder to persuade their audience, but neutral audiences often provide the most chance of achieving your speech goal since even a small change may move them into agreement.

When audience members disagree with your proposition, you should focus on changing their minds. To effectively persuade, you must be seen as a credible speaker. When an audience is hostile to your proposition, establishing credibility is even more important, as audience members may be quick to discount or discredit someone who doesn’t appear prepared or doesn’t present well-researched and supported information. Don’t give an audience a chance to write you off before you even get to share your best evidence. When facing a disagreeable audience, the goal should also be small change. You may not be able to switch someone’s position completely, but influencing him or her is still a success. Aside from establishing your credibility, you should also establish common ground with an audience.


Build common ground with disagreeable audiences and acknowledge areas of disagreement.

Chris-Havard Berge – Shaking Hands – CC BY-NC 2.0.

Acknowledging areas of disagreement and logically refuting counterarguments in your speech is also a way to approach persuading an audience in disagreement, as it shows that you are open-minded enough to engage with other perspectives.

Determining Your Proposition

The proposition of your speech is the overall direction of the content and how that relates to the speech goal. A persuasive speech will fall primarily into one of three categories: propositions of fact, value, or policy. A speech may have elements of any of the three propositions, but you can usually determine the overall proposition of a speech from the specific purpose and thesis statements.

Propositions of fact focus on beliefs and try to establish that something “is or isn’t.” Propositions of value focus on persuading audience members that something is “good or bad,” “right or wrong,” or “desirable or undesirable.” Propositions of policy advocate that something “should or shouldn’t” be done. Since most persuasive speech topics can be approached as propositions of fact, value, or policy, it is a good idea to start thinking about what kind of proposition you want to make, as it will influence how you go about your research and writing. As you can see in the following example using the topic of global warming, the type of proposition changes the types of supporting materials you would need:

  • Proposition of fact. Global warming is caused by increased greenhouse gases related to human activity.
  • Proposition of value. America’s disproportionately large amount of pollution relative to other countries is wrong .
  • Proposition of policy. There should be stricter emission restrictions on individual cars.

To support propositions of fact, you would want to present a logical argument based on objective facts that can then be used to build persuasive arguments. Propositions of value may require you to appeal more to your audience’s emotions and cite expert and lay testimony. Persuasive speeches about policy usually require you to research existing and previous laws or procedures and determine if any relevant legislation or propositions are currently being considered.

“Getting Critical”

Persuasion and Masculinity

The traditional view of rhetoric that started in ancient Greece and still informs much of our views on persuasion today has been critiqued for containing Western and masculine biases. Traditional persuasion has been linked to Western and masculine values of domination, competition, and change, which have been critiqued as coercive and violent (Gearhart, 1979).

Communication scholars proposed an alternative to traditional persuasive rhetoric in the form of invitational rhetoric. Invitational rhetoric differs from a traditional view of persuasive rhetoric that “attempts to win over an opponent, or to advocate the correctness of a single position in a very complex issue” (Bone et al., 2008). Instead, invitational rhetoric proposes a model of reaching consensus through dialogue. The goal is to create a climate in which growth and change can occur but isn’t required for one person to “win” an argument over another. Each person in a communication situation is acknowledged to have a standpoint that is valid but can still be influenced through the offering of alternative perspectives and the invitation to engage with and discuss these standpoints (Ryan & Natalle, 2001). Safety, value, and freedom are three important parts of invitational rhetoric. Safety involves a feeling of security in which audience members and speakers feel like their ideas and contributions will not be denigrated. Value refers to the notion that each person in a communication encounter is worthy of recognition and that people are willing to step outside their own perspectives to better understand others. Last, freedom is present in communication when communicators do not limit the thinking or decisions of others, allowing all participants to speak up (Bone et al., 2008).

Invitational rhetoric doesn’t claim that all persuasive rhetoric is violent. Instead, it acknowledges that some persuasion is violent and that the connection between persuasion and violence is worth exploring. Invitational rhetoric has the potential to contribute to the civility of communication in our society. When we are civil, we are capable of engaging with and appreciating different perspectives while still understanding our own. People aren’t attacked or reviled because their views diverge from ours. Rather than reducing the world to “us against them, black or white, and right or wrong,” invitational rhetoric encourages us to acknowledge human perspectives in all their complexity (Bone et al., 2008).

  • What is your reaction to the claim that persuasion includes Western and masculine biases?
  • What are some strengths and weaknesses of the proposed alternatives to traditional persuasion?
  • In what situations might an invitational approach to persuasion be useful? In what situations might you want to rely on traditional models of persuasion?

Organizing a Persuasive Speech

We have already discussed several patterns for organizing your speech, but some organization strategies are specific to persuasive speaking. Some persuasive speech topics lend themselves to a topical organization pattern, which breaks the larger topic up into logical divisions. Earlier, in Chapter 9 “Preparing a Speech” , we discussed recency and primacy, and in this chapter we discussed adapting a persuasive speech based on the audience’s orientation toward the proposition. These concepts can be connected when organizing a persuasive speech topically. Primacy means putting your strongest information first and is based on the idea that audience members put more weight on what they hear first. This strategy can be especially useful when addressing an audience that disagrees with your proposition, as you can try to win them over early. Recency means putting your strongest information last to leave a powerful impression. This can be useful when you are building to a climax in your speech, specifically if you include a call to action.


Putting your strongest argument last can help motivate an audience to action.

Celestine Chua – The Change – CC BY 2.0.

The problem-solution pattern is an organizational pattern that advocates for a particular approach to solve a problem. You would provide evidence to show that a problem exists and then propose a solution with additional evidence or reasoning to justify the course of action. One main point addressing the problem and one main point addressing the solution may be sufficient, but you are not limited to two. You could add a main point between the problem and solution that outlines other solutions that have failed. You can also combine the problem-solution pattern with the cause-effect pattern or expand the speech to fit with Monroe’s Motivated Sequence.

As was mentioned in Chapter 9 “Preparing a Speech” , the cause-effect pattern can be used for informative speaking when the relationship between the cause and effect is not contested. The pattern is more fitting for persuasive speeches when the relationship between the cause and effect is controversial or unclear. There are several ways to use causes and effects to structure a speech. You could have a two-point speech that argues from cause to effect or from effect to cause. You could also have more than one cause that lead to the same effect or a single cause that leads to multiple effects. The following are some examples of thesis statements that correspond to various organizational patterns. As you can see, the same general topic area, prison overcrowding, is used for each example. This illustrates the importance of considering your organizational options early in the speech-making process, since the pattern you choose will influence your researching and writing.

Persuasive Speech Thesis Statements by Organizational Pattern

  • Problem-solution. Prison overcrowding is a serious problem that we can solve by finding alternative rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders.
  • Problem–failed solution–proposed solution. Prison overcrowding is a serious problem that shouldn’t be solved by building more prisons; instead, we should support alternative rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders.
  • Cause-effect. Prisons are overcrowded with nonviolent offenders, which leads to lesser sentences for violent criminals.
  • Cause-cause-effect. State budgets are being slashed and prisons are overcrowded with nonviolent offenders, which leads to lesser sentences for violent criminals.
  • Cause-effect-effect. Prisons are overcrowded with nonviolent offenders, which leads to increased behavioral problems among inmates and lesser sentences for violent criminals.
  • Cause-effect-solution. Prisons are overcrowded with nonviolent offenders, which leads to lesser sentences for violent criminals; therefore we need to find alternative rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders.

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is an organizational pattern designed for persuasive speaking that appeals to audience members’ needs and motivates them to action. If your persuasive speaking goals include a call to action, you may want to consider this organizational pattern. We already learned about the five steps of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence in Chapter 9 “Preparing a Speech” , but we will review them here with an example:

  • Hook the audience by making the topic relevant to them.
  • Imagine living a full life, retiring, and slipping into your golden years. As you get older you become more dependent on others and move into an assisted-living facility. Although you think life will be easier, things get worse as you experience abuse and mistreatment from the staff. You report the abuse to a nurse and wait, but nothing happens and the abuse continues. Elder abuse is a common occurrence, and unlike child abuse, there are no laws in our state that mandate complaints of elder abuse be reported or investigated.
  • Cite evidence to support the fact that the issue needs to be addressed.
  • According to the American Psychological Association, one to two million elderly US Americans have been abused by their caretakers. In our state, those in the medical, psychiatric, and social work field are required to report suspicion of child abuse but are not mandated to report suspicions of elder abuse.
  • Offer a solution and persuade the audience that it is feasible and well thought out.
  • There should be a federal law mandating that suspicion of elder abuse be reported and that all claims of elder abuse be investigated.
  • Take the audience beyond your solution and help them visualize the positive results of implementing it or the negative consequences of not.
  • Elderly people should not have to live in fear during their golden years. A mandatory reporting law for elderly abuse will help ensure that the voices of our elderly loved ones will be heard.
  • Call your audience to action by giving them concrete steps to follow to engage in a particular action or to change a thought or behavior.
  • I urge you to take action in two ways. First, raise awareness about this issue by talking to your own friends and family. Second, contact your representatives at the state and national level to let them know that elder abuse should be taken seriously and given the same level of importance as other forms of abuse. I brought cards with the contact information for our state and national representatives for this area. Please take one at the end of my speech. A short e-mail or phone call can help end the silence surrounding elder abuse.

Key Takeaways

  • Arguments are formed by making claims that are supported by evidence. The underlying justification that connects the claim and evidence is the warrant. Arguments can have strong or weak warrants, which will make them more or less persuasive.
  • Good persuasive speech topics are current, controversial (but not inflammatory), and important to the speaker and society.
  • When audience members agree with the proposal, focus on intensifying their agreement and moving them to action.
  • When audience members are neutral in regards to the proposition, provide background information to better inform them about the issue and present information that demonstrates the relevance of the topic to the audience.
  • When audience members disagree with the proposal, focus on establishing your credibility, build common ground with the audience, and incorporate counterarguments and refute them.
  • Propositions of fact focus on establishing that something “is or isn’t” or is “true or false.”
  • Propositions of value focus on persuading an audience that something is “good or bad,” “right or wrong,” or “desirable or undesirable.”
  • Propositions of policy advocate that something “should or shouldn’t” be done.
  • Persuasive speeches can be organized using the following patterns: problem-solution, cause-effect, cause-effect-solution, or Monroe’s Motivated Sequence.
  • Getting integrated: Give an example of persuasive messages that you might need to create in each of the following contexts: academic, professional, personal, and civic. Then do the same thing for persuasive messages you may receive.
  • To help ensure that your persuasive speech topic is persuasive and not informative, identify the claims, evidence, and warrants you may use in your argument. In addition, write a thesis statement that refutes your topic idea and identify evidence and warrants that could support that counterargument.
  • Determine if your speech is primarily a proposition of fact, value, or policy. How can you tell? Identify an organizational pattern that you think will work well for your speech topic, draft one sentence for each of your main points, and arrange them according to the pattern you chose.

Bone, J. E., Cindy L. Griffin, and T. M. Linda Scholz, “Beyond Traditional Conceptualizations of Rhetoric: Invitational Rhetoric and a Move toward Civility,” Western Journal of Communication 72 (2008): 436.

Gearhart, S. M., “The Womanization of Rhetoric,” Women’s Studies International Quarterly 2 (1979): 195–201.

Ryan, K. J., and Elizabeth J. Natalle, “Fusing Horizons: Standpoint Hermenutics and Invitational Rhetoric,” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 31 (2001): 69–90.

Communication in the Real World Copyright © 2016 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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How to Write a Persuasive Speech

Last Updated: December 10, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Patrick Muñoz . Patrick is an internationally recognized Voice & Speech Coach, focusing on public speaking, vocal power, accent and dialects, accent reduction, voiceover, acting and speech therapy. He has worked with clients such as Penelope Cruz, Eva Longoria, and Roselyn Sanchez. He was voted LA's Favorite Voice and Dialect Coach by BACKSTAGE, is the voice and speech coach for Disney and Turner Classic Movies, and is a member of Voice and Speech Trainers Association. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,518,976 times.

A persuasive speech is a speech intended to convince the audience to do something. Whether you want to get people to vote, stop littering, or change their minds about an important issue, persuasive speeches are an effective way to sway an audience. There are many elements that go into a successful persuasive speech. But, with some preparation and practice, you can deliver a powerful speech.

Preparing to Write

Step 1 Learn about your topic.

  • Especially if your topic is a controversial one, it's a good idea to know the arguments on all sides of the issue. [1] X Research source Whatever argument you are making, you'll be more persuasive if you can address the views of the opposing side.
  • Spend some time reading books or articles about your topic. You can go to the library and ask a librarian for help finding books, or just go online and find some articles. Make sure to use reliable sources, like major news organizations, or academic books or articles.
  • Opinion-oriented sources, like editorials, talk radio, or partisan cable news, can be valuable for finding out what other people think about your topic. But, don't rely on them as your only source of information. They can be very biased. If you use them at all, make sure to read a variety of viewpoints on the matter, not just one side.

Step 2 Know your goal.

  • For example, if your topic is recycling, it's important to know a lot about recycling. But, your speech will need to reflect exactly what you hope the audience will do. Are you trying to get people to vote in favor of a citywide recycling program? Or are you trying to convince them to sort out their glass and cans and put them in a separate bin? These will be different speeches, so having the goal spelled out early will help you craft your message.

Step 3 Understand your audience.

  • An audience that knows little about your topic will need more background information and simpler language. An audience made up of experts on the topic would likely find such a simple speech boring.
  • Likewise, an audience that already supports your view on a topic will be easier to persuade to take some action. You won't need to convince them you are right, but only that they need to do something. By contrast, an audience that does not agree with you will need persuasion to even consider your point of view.
  • For example, imagine you want to convince your audience to support a city-wide recycling program. If they already think recycling is important, you only need to convince them of the value of this specific program. But, if they don't care about recycling or oppose it, you will need to first convince them that recycling is worthwhile.

Step 4 Choose the right persuasive approach.

  • Ethos. These are appeals to the audience's ethics or morals. For example: "Recycling is the right thing to do. Wasting our limited resources steals from future generations, which is immoral."
  • Pathos. These are appeals to the audience's emotions. For example: "Think of the animals that lose their homes every day because of trees being chopped down. If we recycled more, we could save these beautiful forests."
  • Logos. These are appeals to the audiences logic or intellect. For example: "We know that there is a limited supply of natural resources. We can make this supply last longer by recycling."
  • You can rely on any one or some combination.

Step 5 Outline your main points.

  • The number of points you can make to support your position will be determined by how much time you have to speak.
  • As a rule of thumb, three to four supporting points is usually a good number. [2] X Research source
  • For example, in the speech about recycling, your three main points might be: 1. Recycling saves resources, 2. Recycling reduces the amount of garbage, and 3. Recycling is cost-effective.

Writing your Speech

Step 1 Write a strong opening.

  • An attention grabber. This could be a statement (or sometimes a visual) that gets your audience's attention. It can be a good idea to be a little startling or dramatic at the opening of your speech. For example, you might start with information (or pictures) showing how a nearby landfill is nearly full to capacity.
  • A link to the audience. This is a means of showing that you have something in common with the audience. Show that you have a similar background or share an emotional connection of some kind. This will really depend on knowing your audience. For example, if you are a parent, speaking to other parents, you might emphasize the concern for your own children's future. If you share a common interest or ideological position with your audience, you can emphasize that.
  • Your credentials. This is a means of showing that you are knowledgeable or an authority on the topic of the speech. Highlight the research you've done on your topic. If you have any personal or professional experience with the topic, be sure to emphasize that, too. In the recycling example, you might say "I've invested many hours studying the recycling issue and the types of programs available in other cities."
  • Your goal. Explain to the audience what you hope the speech will accomplish. For example: "I hope by the end of my talk that you will agree that we need a city wide recycling program."
  • A road map. Finally, tell the audience what the main points of the speech will be. For example, "I believe we must start a recycling program for these three reasons...."

Step 2 Offer persuasive evidence.

  • Arrange these points logically. Don't jump from one point to the next, and then back again. Instead, complete an argument, then move on to another that flows logically from it. [4] X Research source
  • Use credible sources from your research to back the points you are making. Even if your point is more emotional (pathos), introducing some factual information will make your argument stronger. For example "Each year, 40,000 acres of beautiful forests are destroyed to make paper, according to a study from the American Recycling Institute."
  • Use real life examples that the audience can relate to. Even an argument based on facts and logic (logos) should relate to the audience's lives and interests. For example: "In these hard economic times, I know many of you are afraid that a recycling program will mean a costly increase in taxes. But, the city of Springfield started a program like this one three years ago. So far they've seen an increase in revenue as a result of the program. Many residents have seen a decrease in their taxes as a result."

Step 3 Address the counter-argument.

  • Make sure that you describe opposing views fairly and objectively. Consider whether someone who actually holds that view would approve of the way you are describing their position. If you aren't sure, find someone who thinks that way and ask!
  • For example, you would not want to say: "opponents of recycling just don't care if we waste our precious resources, or our money." That's not a fair description of their opinion.
  • Instead, you might say: "opponents of recycling are concerned that the cost might be much higher than just using new materials," and then go on to offer an argument about why recycling might be the more cost-effective option.

Step 4 Conclude with a call to action.

  • Don't just restate, verbatim, what you've already said. Instead, use this as an opportunity to reinforce the way your main points support your call to action. For example: "To sum up, I've shown you (points a, b, and c). These three undeniable facts point to a city-wide recycling program as the most sensible and ethical step we can take in helping create a more sustainable future. Please, join me in voting 'yes' on this program in November."

Delivering your Speech

Step 1 Practice your speech.

  • Try practicing in front of a mirror, so that you can see how you are delivering the speech. This can help you notice your facial expressions and body language. These can help or hinder your ability to get your message across.
  • For example, you might notice you are slouching, or that that you fidget with your collar. These actions suggest to an audience that you aren't confident.
  • Better still, record yourself with a video camera and watch the tape afterwards. This can help you see (and hear) where your delivery needs improvement. [5] X Research source It has the benefit of providing audio, and also won't distract you as much as a mirror when you're speaking.
  • Once you've practiced on your own a few times, try giving the speech to a small group of friends or family members. Ask for their feedback on your message and delivery.

Step 2 Dress appropriately.

  • Generally speaking, this will mean dressing professionally. But, the degree of formality will vary. A speech to a film club to convince them to show your film won't require the same degree of formality as speaking to the executives of a movie distribution company. For the executives, you would want to wear a suit. For the film club, that might be overdoing it.

Step 3 Relax.

  • Be friendly and make eye contact with the audience.
  • Move around, where appropriate, but don't fidget or pick at your clothes or hair.
  • Don't read the speech. It's okay to use a few notes to keep yourself on track, but your speech should be mostly memorized.
  • Roll with the punches. If you make a mistake, don't let it derail your whole speech. This might be an opportunity to use a little humor. Then, move on.

Step 4 Involve your audience.

  • For example, if you want them to contact the mayor, demanding a recycling program, don't just ask them to do it. Give them stamped, addressed envelopes to send a letter, or cards with the mayor's phone number and email address. If you do this, many more people are likely to follow through.

Patrick Muñoz

Patrick Muñoz

Speak from your heart and connect with your audience. Look them in the eyes and really talk to them. Make sure you're comfortable delivering your speech and that you use a warm, confident tone.

Sample Template

persuasive speech model text

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Look around at the audience, making eye contact, especially during pauses in your speech. If you're feeling nervous about this, pick out a single person in the audience and pretend you are speaking only to them. After a little while, pick someone else, and repeat. [6] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Speak forward, projecting your voice toward the audience with confidence. Do not speak down toward the floor. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Try to cite sources for statistics and use credible, non-biased sources. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

persuasive speech model text

  • Avoid being confrontational, when possible. Don't be sarcastic or mocking when discussing viewpoints other than your own. This can be alienating to your audience, even those who may agree with you. Thanks Helpful 55 Not Helpful 17
  • Don't be pompous or arrogant during your speech. Be humble, and be open to questions, suggestions, and feedback. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 1

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About This Article

Patrick Muñoz

To write a persuasive speech, start with a strong opening that will make your reader want to pay attention, including an attention grabber, your credentials, the essay's goal, and a road map for the essay. Next, offer persuasive evidence or reasons why the reader should support your viewpoint. Arrange these points logically, use credible sources, and employ some real life examples. Additionally, address counter-arguments to show that you’re looking at the topic from all sides. Finally, conclude by clearly letting the audience know how to put your ideas into action. To learn how to involve your audience when you deliver your speech, keep reading. Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Home Blog Presentation Ideas Persuasive Speech: Actionable Writing Tips and Sample Topics

Persuasive Speech: Actionable Writing Tips and Sample Topics

Persuasive Speech: Actionable Writing Tips and Sample Topics

What is Persuasive Speaking?

Factual persuasive speech, value persuasive speech, policy persuasive speech, how to start a persuasive speech: opening tips and examples.

  • Social Proof
  • Comparisons
  • Agitate and Solve
  • Storytelling

Bonus: Address Counter Arguments

How to close your persuasive speech: quick examples, easy persuasive speech topics, interesting persuasive speech topics, good persuasive speech topics on controversial issues, funny persuasive speech topics, designing persuasive visuals: slide elements for maximum impact, mastering delivery techniques: engaging body language and voice modulation, persuasive presentation structures: organizing your content for maximum influence, handling audience interaction: q&a sessions and audience engagement, persuasive call to action: inspiring and motivating your audience to act.

Business professionals, students, and others can all benefit from learning the principles of persuasive speech. After all, the art of persuasion can be applied to any area of life where getting people to agree with you is important. So without much further ado, let’s get into the basics of persuasive speaking, persuasive speech writing, and lastly persuasive speech topics!

A persuasive speech is a specific type of speech where the presenter attempts to convince the audience of their point of view. The ideal goal of a persuasive speech is to make the audience change their mind on the issue, or at least, become more accepting of their point of view.

You might give an informal persuasive speech when trying to convince your friends to agree to the movie you want to watch. If you are chosen to pitch a new product idea to stakeholders at work, you are essentially being asked to give a persuasive speech.

What are The 3 Types of Persuasive Speeches?

All the persuasive speech ideas can be organized into one of the next three categories:

When someone gives a factual persuasive speech, their goal is to convince the audience that something is true or false. In some cases that simply requires gathering evidence and presenting them in the form of arguments/counter-arguments. This approach works for all persuasive topics where true/false is a binary consideration.

You can also give a factual speech on a topic that isn’t as cut and dried. For example, you could make the argument that assimilation is the best way for cultures to mix even though there is no single piece of evidence proving that without a doubt.

In essence, you can select any topic and frame it into the factual persuasive speech as long as you have strong oratory and presentation skills .

In this case, you are trying to convince your audience that something is good or bad. You want your audience to understand your values on a topic, and then adopt those values as their own. For example, a speech written to convince people that it’s immoral to buy single-use plastics is a value persuasive speech.

In a policy persuasive speech, you describe a problem, then work to persuade the audience to agree with your proposed solutions. These speeches can be given to simply change the audiences perspective or convince them to take a specific action.

Policy persuasive speeches can be further spiced up with some nuggets of Nudge Theory to reinforce the idea you are trying to deliver.

How to Write a Persuasive Speech: The Essential Steps

Before we dive deep into the writing, let’s quickly recap the anatomy of a persuasive speech:

  • Opening:  start strong to capture the audiences attention and explain your agenda.
  • Key arguments:  present your key talking points and lay down the facts.
  • Counterpoints:  address the common objections.
  • Closure:  recap your key message once again and suggest further action.

Now, this isn’t a “set-in-stone” structure, but rather a base you can use when drafting your persuasive speech outline.

Below we are listing some extra tips for each section, along with persuasive speech examples.

Every good speech and presentation need a strong opening slide . After all, how can you persuade anyone if they do not feel compelled to listen to you in the first place? Right, you can’t and that’s exactly why you should spend quite a lot of time working and refining on your speech opening.

Here are some techniques you can try:

  • Start with a curious personal story/anecdote
  • Sharing a surprising statistic

Next, you must convince the audience that they should listen to you. You can do this by explaining what you have in common.

For example,  Everyone here is a concerned parent. I am also a mother of three who cares deeply about the lack of interest in STEM among girls.  This is also where you might share your credentials.  That’s why I’m here to speak to you as a professional with 30 years of experience as an educator.

Follow your intro statement with a quick explanation of your goal. Be direct here. In one or two sentences state your purpose, and what you want your audience to believe or do.

“I believe that women in STEM can close the looming tech skills gap and generate an extra $12 trillion in global GDP. That’s why I’m asking you to stop encouraging girls to learn dancing and encourage them to code instead.”

Finally, transition to the main part of your speech with a statement that lets the audience know what is coming. For example, Today, I am going to provide you with the evidence that some parental practices are alienating girls from STEM subjects.

Liked this primer? Great! Here are several more techniques you can use to frame your ideas for persuasive speeches.

What are The 5 Persuasive Techniques?

After the opening, it’s time to present your arguments and counter any arguments that could conflict with your point. The following five persuasive techniques tend to work like a charm for that purpose:

  • Social proof
  • Agitate and solve

More controversial persuasive speech topics, in particular, will require you to artfully work through various objections and mix different persuasion methods. Now let’s take a closer look at each one.

1. Repetition

There’s a reason that advertisements repeat the same thing over and over again. Research proves that people are more likely to believe something if they hear it multiple times. In addition to this, repetition simply helps people to remember key points that you want to stick with them.

When it comes to persuasive speeches, you should always repeat your most important points at the beginning and end of your speech.

Helpful template: 6 Steps Hexagonal Segmented Diagram

Repetition Persuasive Speech with a Buzz Metaphone

2. Social Proof

People are influenced by the actions and beliefs of others, whether they admit it or not. Use this during your speech. For example, you can share testimonials from people who agree with your POV or leverage the voice of customer data , expressing the same concerns as you do.

NB : When lining up social proof for your presentation, make sure that this data comes from a peer group that your audience relates to.

Helpful template: Voice of customer PowerPoint template

Social Proof Persuasive Speech Illustration

3. Comparisons

The point of using comparisons is to present a contrast of the idea/element that you support with the one that you do not. Then you’ll need to prove that yours is the best choice. For example, you might compare the features of two software applications to persuade that your team needs option A, not B.

Using comparisons also gives your speech more credibility since it appears that you are giving the opposing position a fair shake, even when you are only showcasing it to score points against it.

Helpful template: Two option comparison template

Comparison Persuasive Speech

4. Agitate and Solve

When you take the “agitate and solve” approach, you first make your audience vary and somewhat dissatisfied with a certain issue (agitate). Next, you present your idea as a solution (solve). The idea is to hit a nerve and get the audience to relate. Then, when you present your solution, it’s that much more persuasive to them. It also makes the entire scenario more emotionally compelling to them.

Here’s an example of this approach in action:

Nearly every one of us has been ripped off by an unscrupulous mechanic. Nobody deserves to be taken advantage of. That’s why every person needs to vote in favor of this consumer protection ballot measure.

Agitate and Solve Persuasive Speech Illustration

5. Storytelling

Many people opt to use a rhetorical triangle when building their persuasive argument s. These days storytelling may be more effective. Here’s why:

Stories create an emotional connection and relatability. Imagine listening to a speech where the speaker lists a variety of statistics about the harm that plastics cause to marine life. Now, imagine listening to the true story of a marine biologist who discovers a dolphin that has been badly injured by plastic trash it has encountered in its habitat.

Clearly, the second one, if told correctly, will cast a much deeper impact on the audience.

Helpful template: Storytelling theme template .

Storytelling Persuasive Speech Illustration by SlideModel

It’s up to you to decide if you want to address any counterpoints to your arguments, and where you will do that in your speech. Some speakers choose to include an obvious counter-argument in the introduction, so they can effectively dismiss it before they begin.

Others address these points when they are relevant to the current argument they are making. Finally, you can address a counterpoint in its paragraph just above your concluding paragraph.

Here are some actionable techniques for addressing counter-arguments:

  • Provide a direct refutation of the point. Prove that it simply isn’t an issue.
  • Concede that it’s an issue, but show that it isn’t significant enough to derail your overall argument.
  • Acknowledge the plausibility of the counterpoint, but argue yours as the better option.

Recommended Reading:  Building a Persuasive Argument with the Rhetorical Triangle Concept

How you present your closing depends on your goal. If you want your audience to take a specific action, show them how to do it, and make it as easy as possible. Try this:

When you pay your trash bill next month, you’ll be asked if you want the city of Gravesdale to begin a recycling program. If you value water quality and marine life, please say yes.

If your goal is to simply influence a change in opinion, you might say: Both facts and experience prove that we can no longer afford to send plastics to the landfill. Please consider this the next time you go shopping.

Alright, now you may be wondering: what are the best persuasive speech topics? We’ve got you covered here too!

A List of Persuasive Speech Topics

Here is a list of persuasive speech topic examples, with writing tips .

The easiest topic to present on is the one that you are truly passionate and knowledgeable about. Also, easy persuasive speech topics usually don’t tackle any controversial issues with a lot of contrarian opinions, especially on complex matters regarding politics, religion, human rights, and so on. Instead, you choose an angle that may already resonate with a good fraction of your audience and require one or two good counterarguments, rather than using a host of persuasive techniques.

For example : Should all internships be paid?

Most people will instinctively say yes , especially if your audience consists of college graduates and former interns.

What makes an interesting speech? Topical ideas that get people engaged, agitated, and eager to follow your storyline.

In this case, you’d want to find a deeper subject that allows you to incorporate some storytelling elements and personal examples that would create some empathy with the audience and make them relate to your cause on a more personal level. As Lucinda Beaman, fact check editor at The Conversation said in her Ted talk :

“While you are listening to your opponent’s case, you are probably listening for an opportunity to refuse them”. 

A quality narrative can help you draw your opponent’s attention from their counterarguments and, instead, make them more sympathetic to your cause.

For example : Schools kill creativity. As a former drop-out, turned CEO of the Fortune 100 company, I can tell you why.

If you are ready to pick a bigger ‘fight’ with your audience, you may tackle a more complex and controversial issue that’s dividing the audience. In such cases, it’s best to rely on a mix of persuasive techniques:

  • Start with a strong opening, drawing the line in the sand
  • Line up social proof and data points to bake your key arguments
  • Rally people to understand your point of view and why you feel the way you do
  • Precisely address the common counterarguments on the matter.

For example : It’s time to realize that marijuana legalization is wrong.

Your opponents will argue that legalization reduces criminalization around the selling of marijuana, plus medical marijuana usage does help certain patient groups cope with their illness better. Acknowledge these ideas in your speech, but also provide extra facts that can speak to the opposite.

Did you know that humor itself is a powerful persuasive technique? That’s why it’s often used in advertising. Choosing a funny angle and topic for your persuasive speech is a sleek move if you know that you can really pull it off without offending anyone or downplaying the importance of the issue you are discussing.

For example: Millennials are definitely from outer space and our workplace isn’t ready for them.

You can start with a funny opening:

Millennials constantly chew on that weird greenish sandwich type of thing that they lovingly call the ‘avo toast’ and their fingers move inhumanly fast when they type things on their smartphones, amiright?

But that switch to a more serious accord:

But no matter how weird these Millennial folks may seem to us, boomers, they are a wonderful asset to every workplace. And we must make their point of few count, too!
  • Crafting persuasive presentations goes beyond words alone. Designing persuasive visuals is a strategic approach to captivate your audience and enhance your message’s impact.
  • Choosing Appropriate Visuals, Images, and Infographics: Select visuals that resonate with your message. High-quality images and relevant infographics can reinforce your points and aid audience comprehension.
  • Using Color Psychology and Font Selection: Utilize colors that evoke desired emotions and align with your message’s tone. Choose fonts that are easily readable and complement your presentation’s aesthetics.
  • Balancing Simplicity and Complexity: Strike a balance between simplicity and complexity in your slide content. Avoid overwhelming visuals while ensuring that complex concepts are presented clearly and succinctly.
  • The art of persuasion extends beyond content to encompass delivery. Engaging body language and voice modulation play a pivotal role in conveying credibility and connecting with your audience.
  • Significance of Body Language: Body language is a potent nonverbal tool. It influences the audience’s perception of your confidence, sincerity, and authority.
  • Gestures, Eye Contact, and Posture: Employ purposeful gestures, maintain consistent eye contact, and exhibit a confident posture to establish rapport and engage the audience.
  • Role of Vocal Variety, Tone, and Pacing: Utilize vocal variety to sustain audience interest. Vary your tone and pacing to emphasize key points, maintain engagement, and prevent monotony.
  • Rehearsal Methods: Effective rehearsal hones your delivery skills. Practice your presentation multiple times to refine your speaking style, enhance clarity, and ensure a polished performance.
  • Structuring your persuasive presentation optimally enhances its influence. Effective organization guides the audience’s understanding and reinforces your key arguments.
  • Analyzing Different Presentation Structures: Choose a structure that aligns with your persuasive objectives. Sequential, problem-solution, comparative, or chronological structures can be tailored to your message.
  • Crafting a Compelling Introduction: Your introduction should immediately grab attention. Use anecdotes, intriguing questions, statistics, or powerful quotes to pique interest and set the stage.
  • Logical and Coherent Organization: Organize your arguments logically. Each argument should flow naturally into the next, creating a cohesive narrative reinforcing your persuasive case.
  • Incorporating Emotional Appeals and Logical Reasoning: Blend emotional appeals with logical reasoning. Use relatable anecdotes, emotional stories, and compelling data to substantiate your points.
  • Effective handling of audience interaction involves: Interacting with your audience during a persuasive presentation enhances engagement and reinforces your message.
  • Preparing for Q&A Sessions: Anticipate potential questions and challenges. Prepare concise and confident responses to reinforce your message’s credibility.
  • Techniques for Active Audience Engagement: Encourage audience participation through questions, discussions, and interactive activities. Engaged audiences are more likely to internalize your persuasive message.
  • Using Audience Feedback and Questions: Leverage audience feedback and questions to enhance your presentation. Address concerns, clarify points, and demonstrate your expertise through thoughtful responses.
  • Strategies for Adapting to Audience Reactions: Remain adaptable to audience reactions. Gauge their responses and adjust your delivery in real time to maintain engagement and address uncertainties.
  • Concluding your persuasive presentation with a compelling call to action (CTA) is pivotal for motivating the desired response from your audience.
  • Essential Elements of an Effective CTA: Craft a concise and impactful CTA that aligns with your presentation’s goals. Clearly communicate the desired action and its benefits to the audience.
  • Crafting Persuasive and Actionable CTAs: Frame your CTA using persuasive language that resonates with your audience. Ensure the CTA’s feasibility and relevance to increase audience commitment.
  • Techniques for Memorable and Compelling CTAs: Employ rhetoric, vivid imagery, and emotional appeal in your CTA. Make it memorable by creating a strong emotional connection that resonates with the audience.
  • Measuring CTA Success and Tracking Audience Responses: Assess the effectiveness of your CTA through measurable outcomes. Monitor audience responses, track engagement, and gather feedback to evaluate success.

If you know how to give a convincing persuasive speech, you will be at a real advantage both in your personal life and at work! Commit the tips above to memory and start practicing on some of the good speech topics we’ve listed here to polish your tradecraft!

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35 Introduction to Persuasive Speaking

Learning objectives.

  • Define and explain persuasion.
  • Explain the three theories of persuasion discussed in the text: social judgment theory, cognitive dissonance theory, and the elaboration likelihood model.

People are bombarded by persuasive messages in today’s world, so thinking about how to create persuasive messages effectively is very important for modern public speakers. A century (or even half a century) ago, public speakers had to contend only with the words printed on paper for attracting and holding an audience’s attention. Today, public speakers must contend with laptops, netbooks, iPads, smartphones, billboards, television sets, and many other tools that can send a range of persuasive messages immediately to a target audience.

What Is Persuasion?

We made it to the part in the class that most students are excited about. The persuasive speech! There are similarities and important differences between the informative and persuasive speaking styles. This reading will highlight our purpose of persuasive speaking.

To begin though, we need to define persuasion. You are used to experiencing persuasion in many forms, and may have an easy time identifying examples of persuasion, but can you explain how persuasion works? Osborn and Osborn define  persuasion  this way: “the art of convincing others to give favorable attention to our point of view.” [1] There are two components that make this definition a useful one. First, it acknowledges the artfulness, or skill, required to persuade others. Persuasion does not normally just happen. Rather it is planned and executed in a thoughtful manner. Second, this definition delineates the end goal of persuasion—to convince others to think favorably of our point of view. Persuasion “encompasses a wide range of communication activities, including advertising, marketing, sales, political campaigns, and interpersonal relations.” [2]  Because of its widespread utility, persuasion is a pervasive part of our everyday lives.

Persuasive versus Informative Speaking

Informative (or informational) and persuasive speaking are related, but distinct, types of speeches. The difference between the two lies in the speaker’s end goal and what the speaker wants the audience to leave with.

Informative speeches are probably the most prevalent variety of speech. The goal is always to supply information and facts to the audience. This information can come in the form of statistics, facts, or other forms of evidence. Informational speeches do not tell people what to do with the information; their goal is for the audience to have and understand the information. Academic lectures are often informational speeches because the professor is attempting to present facts so the students can understand them.

Like informational speeches, persuasive speeches use information. However, persuasive speeches are designed for the audience to not only hear and understand the information but to use it to be convinced of a viewpoint. The end goal of a persuasive speech is not for the audience to have information, but rather for them to have a certain view or do something specific with the information provided. Persuasive speeches may use some of the same techniques as informational speeches but also will use persuasive strategies to convince and motivate the audience. A sales pitch is one example of a persuasive speech.

Goals of Persuasive Speaking

We typically use persuasive speaking to change or reinforce someone’s attitudes, values, beliefs, and/or behaviors.

Attitude: What do you like or dislike? Attitudes encompass our thoughts and emotions. For instance, if I think running is fun and I feel good when I do it, I am more likely to do it. Attitudes will uncover an individual’s general predisposition toward something as being good or bad, right or wrong, or negative or positive.

Beliefs: What convictions (or assumptions) do you hold? Beliefs are ideas we hold to be true. They may be positions that an individual holds as true or false without positive knowledge or proof. Beliefs can be spiritual, moral, political, or social, just to name a few. You may believe that lying is bad and therefore you refrain from it or feel bad when you do it. While beliefs may not be based on “proof,” they are typically deeply held and influence our attitudes and behaviors in powerful ways.

Value: What drives you? Values are an individual’s judgment of what is important in life. This may include the usefulness or with of something. You may value courage or respect or kindness. We can value a college education or technology or freedom. Values, as a general concept, are fairly ambiguous and tend to be very lofty ideas.

Behaviors: Behaviors, the ways in which someone acts, come in a wide range of forms. Speeches encouraging audiences to vote for a candidate, sign a petition opposing a tuition increase, or adopt a puppy are behavior-oriented persuasive speeches. 

Ultimately, our attitudes, beliefs, and values motivate us to engage in a range of behaviors. For example, if you value technology, you are more likely to seek out new technology or software on your own. On the contrary, if you do not value technology, you are less likely to seek out new technology or software unless someone, or some circumstance, requires you to.

Why Persuasion Matters

When you study and understand persuasion, you will be more successful at persuading others. Do you want to persuade your boss you deserve a raise? Do you want to convince your client to purchase a service? Do you want to change the social landscape of a community? If you want to be a persuasive public speaker, then you need to have a working understanding of how persuasion functions.

When people understand persuasion, they will be better consumers of information. We live in a society where numerous message sources are constantly fighting for our attention and many of those messages are purposeful false. Unfortunately, most people just let messages wash over them like a wave, making little effort to understand or analyze them. As a result, they are more likely to fall for half-truths, illogical arguments, and lies. When you start to understand persuasion, you will have the skill set to actually pick apart the messages being sent to you and see why some of them are good and others are simply not.

Psychology of Persuasion

Understanding how people are persuaded is very important to the discussion of public speaking. Thankfully, a number of researchers have created theories that help explain why people are persuaded. While there are numerous theories that help to explain persuasion, we are only going to examine three here: social judgment theory, cognitive dissonance theory, and the elaboration likelihood model.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Cognitive dissonance is an aversive motivational state that occurs when an individual entertains two or more contradictory attitudes, values, beliefs, or behaviors simultaneously. For example, maybe you know you should be working on your speech, but you really want to go to a movie with a friend. In this case, practicing your speech and going to the movie are two cognitions that are inconsistent with one another. These cognitions may cause anxiety or discomfort. The goal of persuasion is to induce enough dissonance in listeners that they will want to change their attitudes, values, beliefs, or behaviors.

Anxiety or discomfort caused by dissonance is typically resolved in one of three ways:

Change: The listener can change beliefs or behaviors to align with one another. The smoker may quit smoking or they may decide that smoking is not harmful and continue to smoke. Either way, they have relieves the anxiety of contradictory beliefs and behaviors.

Acquiring new information: If the listener acquires new information that confirms or contradicts a belief, the anxiety may be reduced. For instance, if the smoker reads a study that indicates that smoking is not harmful, they can continue to smoke and not feel disturbed by it.

Perception shift: Typically anxiety can be reduced by rationalizing our decisions. If the smoker decides that living in the moment and experiencing the pleasure of smoking is worth a potential far-off event, they may continue to smoke rationalizing that life is short and they should enjoy it.

When considering cognitive dissonance as a speaker, you must first create dissonance in your listeners. You want to make them uncomfortable with their beliefs or behaviors. Beware of making them too uncomfortable though. Listeners will tune you out if you make them too anxious. Once you have created dissonance, you can then offer new information to change perceptions and encourage behaviors changes in the direction you are seeking.

Elaboration Likelihood Model

When I was in graduate school, my computer got attacked with the Michelangelo virus. In short, when I turned on my computer on Michelangelo’s birthday, it wiped out everything on my computer. At least that’s what they told me at the computer repair store. I had spent a month of my life researching and writing my persuasion paper and it was gone in an instant. In a moment of what can best be described as a graduate school freak out, I went to the store to buy a new computer. I looked at the salesperson and said, “Quick, show me which computer to buy.” He pointed at one, I bought it, and went home and started writing.

Was I persuaded to buy a computer by the salesperson?  I bought one so clearly, I was persuaded, right?  Which persuasion technique did he use?  Could this even count as an act of persuasion? Sometimes, we just want to decide without putting too much thought into it. You could argue that I didn’t put any thought into it. I didn’t have time to research; I didn’t have the mental capacity to think about which computer was best for me. I trusted the decision to the person in the computer store–he was the one in the red shirt after all. He worked there so he must know about computers.

The next time I bought a computer, I wasn’t in such a stressful situation. I took my time and shopped around. I talked to multiple salespeople, and I read reviews.  I even made a spreadsheet of the features and the prices. I put a lot of thought into picking the right computer. Was I any more or less persuaded to buy? After all, in both cases, I bought a computer.

Petty and Cacioppo developed the Elaboration Likelihood Model as a way to explain how persuasion works in different scenarios–particularly, how sometimes we think a lot about our decisions and how sometimes we look for other ways to be persuaded. They said we go on different persuasion routes. When we are thinking (cognitive elaboration) about our decision, they would say, we are taking the central route. We take this thinking route when there is personal involvement and personal relevance.  When we are not thinking–because of the situation, our mood, our inability to understand, or the fact that it is not a big decision for us– they would say we are taking the peripheral route. The peripheral route can be thought of as deciding based on anything other than deep thought. In my case, my decision was made based on the authority of the person.

Which of the computers do you think I would likely suggest to a friend–the one bought fast because it was recommended or the one bought after much research? Which computer did I think was the best computer? If you guessed the one that I shopped around for, you would be right. That is the computer I would most likely believe was the best one and that is the one I would most likely recommend to a friend.  It makes sense. When we think about our decisions, persuasion is more long-lasting, we are more committed to the decision, and we are more likely to tell others.

What does any of this have to do with you writing a persuasion speech? Knowing that people are persuaded differently can help you design your persuasive arguments. Deciding whether you are going for thoughtful or peripheral persuasion is key.

I used to work for a non-profit and did a lot of fundraising speeches. If I wanted people to be persuaded to give money and have a long-term emotional and financial commitment to the organization, it made sense to persuade them via the central (thinking) route. That meant, I had to tell them what we did and give them facts and details about our organization. I had to build trust and I had to help them believe in the cause.

By contrast, my son was in marching band so there was always a fundraiser where we sold overpriced candy to our friends to support his upcoming trip. The persuasion I used was usually some version of, “My son is selling candy bars for his upcoming band trip, would you help support him.” There was not a lot of thinking when people were buying these candy bars. They were buying because they liked my son, they knew me, or because I bought cookies from their daughter for her fundraiser. This was peripheral persuasion one candy bar at a time.

Elaboration Likelihood Model–What’s the Big Idea?

A picture showing how someond looking at a care via the central route thinks about cost and fuel efficiency and someone via the peripheral route notices the color and sex appeal.

  • If you want your persuasion to be long-lasting, persuade them via the central route. Offer facts, data, and solid information
  • If you want a quick persuasion where they don’t put much thought into it or if your audience is not very knowledgeable, tired, or unmotivated, persuade them by the peripheral route.

Social Judgment Theory

I have a colleague that travels around the country speaking on college campuses and at farmer’s markets telling people why they should not eat meat. He finds the eating of meat completely unethical.

I’ve noticed that when it comes to meat-eating, people have strong opinions on either side.  Think about it, would you eat a horse? dog? goat? rabbit? Some of you have grown up eating meat all your lives and consider it a tasty and healthy way to eat. For others of you, the very thought of eating any animal product seems cruel. Most reading this will fall somewhere in between. Look at the chart below and decide, which of the category best describes you.

As you looked at the list there were some categories you found acceptable, and some you did not. In all honesty, most of you did not think that I was going to suggest eating dogs and horses. When you saw that on the list, most of you didn’t think of those as tasty options. Social Judgement Theory proposed by Sherif, Sherif, and Nebergall suggests that on any topic from diet to abortion and gun control to movie choices, we have an idea of what we like and are willing to accept and what is out of the question. The researchers studied human judgment to understand when persuasive messages are likely to succeed, and it comes down to how we fit into the ranges and how closely that message is to what we already believe. Each of us has a favorite position on any given topic, they call that the anchor position. As you looked on the chart and picked the category that best describes you, you found your anchor position. On the list, you likely found several categories that you would be willing to accept and maybe several categories you reject entirely.

Let’s go back to a colleague of mine, remember, the one who speaks on campuses about veganism. When he looks at this chart, the only position he is willing to accept is to eat no animal products at all.  The researchers would say that he is ego-involved because he has a large group of ideas he rejects. How hard would it be to get him to try eating a dog? a goat? an egg? As you can imagine, if I suggest that he tries eating goat, he will think that position is too extreme and that as individuals we are far apart in what we believe. On the other hand, I might be able to nudge him up the continuum a little. Maybe, I could convince him to try honey. After all, no bees were harmed from making honey and it does not contain any meat. People with extreme views can be moved, but only in small increments. If I want the persuasion to work, I might be able to persuade him to try honey.

Now, think of a friend you might know who hunts, and fishes, and eats deer, rabbit, and squirrel. This friend of yours likes trying different types of jerky-like elk and moose. How hard would it be to convince him to try eating a dog? How about a goat? Since your friend has a large range of ideas he already accepts, adding one more animal to the list of things he eats might not be that hard. He would be much more likely to try a dog than would my vegan friend. It doesn’t matter how good we are at persuading as much as how close that persuasion is to what they already believe.

In any audience, you will have people all up and down the spectrum of beliefs. It is your responsibility to try to find out as much as you can about your audience before your speech, so you will know generally where they are. You will have more luck persuading people if you try to move them a little as opposed to move them a lot.  Every semester, a vegan group comes to the University of Arkansas campus and passes out flyers promoting a vegan lifestyle. I’ve noticed their messages have slowly changed from meat is murder and you should never eat meat because production is hard on the environment to a more palatable message to try eliminating meat one day a week.  Maybe these vegans learned about Social Judgement Theory or maybe they learned by trial and error that moving someone from one extreme to the next is an unlikely feat.

Alexander Edwards Coppock did his dissertation looking at small changes in political opinions, he found the following:

  • When confronted with persuasive messages, individuals update their views in the direction of information. This means, if you give them good information, they are likely to be persuaded by it.
  • People change their minds about political issues in small increments. Like mentioned before, they are more likely to move in small increments.
  • Persuasion in the direction of information occurs regardless of background characteristics, initial beliefs, or ideological position. Translation, good information can be very persuasive regardless of what they believed before.
  • These changes in political attitudes, in most cases, lasted at least 10 days. In other words, good facts help people to change their attitudes and that information can stick.

In summary, if you provide people information and attempt to persuade them in small increments regardless of their prior beliefs, they can change their political attitude and that change will stick.

Social Judgement Theory–What’s the Big Idea?

Neo sign that says "eat what makes you happy"

  • People have preexisting beliefs on topics. Some people have many variations they are willing to accept, and other people are very set in their ways and will only tolerate a narrow set of beliefs.
  • It is nearly impossible to get people to move from one extreme to the next. It is better to get them to move their position a little.
  • If you try to move people with narrow views, they will likely reject your ideas and think you are too extreme.
  • People who have a wide variance of beliefs are more open-minded to change as long as you don’t try to move them too far from their anchor position.

Michael Austin Believes We Should Encourage Open Discussion

Small acts of persuasion matter, because there is much less distance between people’s beliefs than we often suppose. We easily confuse the distance between people’s political positions with the intensity of their convictions about them. It is entirely possible for people to become sharply divided, even hostile, over relatively minor disagreements. Americans have fought epic political battles over things like baking wedding cakes and kneeling during the national anthem. And we once fought a shooting war over a whiskey tax of ten cents per gallon. The ferocity of these battles has nothing to do with the actual distance between different positions, which, when compared to the entire range of opinions possible in the world, is almost negligible.

None of this means that we can persuade our opponents easily. Persuading people to change their minds is excruciatingly difficult. It doesn’t always work, and it rarely works the way we think it will. But it does work, and the fact that it works makes it possible for us to have a democracy. ―  Michael Austin,  We Must Not Be Enemies: Restoring America’s Civic 

Is it personal?

The first reason people are motivated to take the central route or use high elaboration when listening to a persuasive message involves personal relevance and involvement. Personal relevance refers to whether the audience member feels that he or she is actually directly affected by the speech topic. For example, if someone is listening to a speech on why cigarette smoking is harmful, and that listener has never smoked cigarettes, he or she may think the speech topic simply isn’t relevant. Obviously, as a speaker, you should always think about how your topic is relevant to your listeners and make sure to drive this home throughout your speech. Personal involvement, on the other hand, asks whether the individual is actively engaged with the issue at hand: sends letters of support, gives speeches on the topic, has a bumper sticker, and so forth. If an audience member is an advocate who is constantly denouncing tobacco companies for the harm they do to society, then he or she would be highly involved (i.e., would engage in high elaboration) in a speech that attempts to persuade listeners that smoking is harmful.

Am I accountable?

The second condition under which people are likely to process information using the central route is when they feel that they will be held accountable for the information after the fact. With accountability, there is the perception that someone, or a group of people, will be watching to see if the receiver remembers the information later on. Think about what you do as a student when an instructor says “This will be on the test.” You immediately begin to centrally process the message.

Personal Responsibility

When people feel that they are going to be held responsible, without a clear external accounting, for the evaluation of a message or the outcome of a message, they are more likely to critically think through the message using the central route. For example, maybe you’re asked to evaluate fellow students in your public speaking class. Research has shown that if only one or two students are asked to evaluate any one speaker at a time, the quality of the evaluations for that speaker will be better than if everyone in the class is asked to evaluate every speaker. When people feel that their evaluation is important, they take more responsibility and therefore are more critical of the message delivered.

Incongruent Information

Some people are motivated to centrally process information when it does not adhere to their own ideas. Maybe you’re a highly progressive liberal, and one of your peers delivers a speech on the importance of the Tea Party movement in American politics. The information presented during the speech will most likely be in direct contrast to your personal ideology, which causes incongruence because the Tea Party ideology is opposed to a progressive liberal ideology. As such, you are more likely to pay attention to the speech, specifically looking for flaws in the speaker’s argument.

While there are many theories of persuasion that can shed light on why people are persuaded, these two give us a solid foundation to understand what we are up against as speakers. We must understand where our audience is, where we want them to be, and what will motivate them to get there.

Key Takeaways

  • Persuasion is the use of verbal and nonverbal messages to get a person to behave in a manner or embrace a point of view related to values, attitudes, and beliefs that he or she would not have done otherwise. Studying persuasion is important today because it helps us become more persuasive individuals, become more observant of others’ persuasive attempts, and have a more complete understanding of the world around us.
  • The Elaboration Likelihood Model assumes that people are persuaded via a thinking (central) or nonthinking (peripheral) route.
  • Social judgment theory says that persuaders need to be aware of an audience’s latitudes of acceptance, noncommitment, and rejection in order to effectively persuade an audience. Second, cognitive dissonance theory reasons that people do not like holding to ideas in their heads that are contrary and will do what is necessary to get rid of the dissonance caused by the two contrary ideas. Lastly, the elaboration likelihood model posits that persuaders should attempt to get receivers to think about the arguments being made (going through the central route) rather than having receivers pay attention to nonargument related aspects of the speech.

Coppock, A. E. (2016). Positive, small, homogeneous, and durable: Political persuasion in response to information. [Doctoral Dissertation,  Columbian University]. Proquest  Available

Festinger, L. (1957).  A theory of cognitive dissonance . Evanston, IL: Row, Peterson, & Company.

Festinger, L., & Carlsmith, J. M. (1959). Cognitive consequences of forced compliance.  Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 58 , 203–210.

Frankish, K. (1998). Virtual belief. In P. Carruthers & J. Boucher (Eds.),  Language and thought  (pp. 249–269). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Frymier, A. B., & Nadler, M. K. (2007).  Persuasion: Integrating theory, research, and practice . Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

Perloff, R. M. (2003).  The dynamics of persuasion: Communication and attitudes in the 21st Century  (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 5–6.

Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion.  Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 19 , 123–205.

Sherif, M., & Hovland, C. I. (1961).  Social judgment: Assimilation and contrast effects in communication and attitude change . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Sherif, C. W. &  Sherif, M. (1976).  Attitude as the individuals’ own categories: The social judgment-involvement approach to attitude and attitude change. Attitude, ego-involvement, and change.   Greenwood Press.

Public Speaking Copyright © by Dr. Layne Goodman; Amber Green, M.A.; and Various is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Social Sci LibreTexts

12.1: Persuasion - An Overview

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Learning Objectives

  • Define and explain persuasion.
  • Explain the three theories of persuasion discussed in the text: social judgment theory, cognitive dissonance theory, and the elaboration likelihood model.

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NBS NewsHour – Podium – CC BY-NC 2.0.

In his text The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century , Perloff (2003) noted that the study of persuasion today is extremely important for five basic reasons:

  • The sheer number of persuasive communications has grown exponentially.
  • Persuasive messages travel faster than ever before.
  • Persuasion has become institutionalized.
  • Persuasive communication has become more subtle and devious.
  • Persuasive communication is more complex than ever before.

Since 2003 (a year before Facebook was founded) when Perloff argued these reasons, we have seen an explosion in persuasive messages with the advent and growth of social media. The social media phenomenon has supercharged the reasons outlined by Perloff. In essence, the nature of persuasion has changed over the last fifty years as a result of the influx of various types of technology. People are bombarded by persuasive messages in today’s world, so thinking about how to create persuasive messages effectively is very important for modern public speakers. A century (or even half a century) ago, public speakers had to contend only with the words printed on paper for attracting and holding an audience’s attention. Today, public speakers must contend with laptops, tablets, smartphones, billboards, television sets, and many other tools that can send a range of persuasive messages immediately to a target audience. Thankfully, scholars who study persuasion have kept up with the changing times and have found a number of persuasive strategies that help speakers be more persuasive.

What Is Persuasion?

Persuasion is an attempt to get a person to behave in a manner, or embrace a point of view related to values, attitudes, and beliefs, that they would not have done otherwise.

Change Attitudes, Values, and Beliefs

The first type of persuasive public speaking involves a change in someone’s attitudes, values, and beliefs.

A ttitude is defined as an individual’s general predisposition toward something. This predisposition can be positive (good, right, etc.), negative (bad, wrong, etc.), or neutral. For example, maybe you believe that local curfew laws for people under the age of 18 are a bad idea, so you want to persuade others to adopt a negative attitude toward such laws.

Value refers to an individual’s perception of the usefulness, importance, or worth of something. We can assign a value to college education, technology, or freedom. You can attempt to persuade an individual to change their value toward something. Values, as a general concept, are fairly ambiguous and tend to be very lofty ideas. Ultimately, what we place a high value on in life, actually motivates us to engage in a range of behaviors. For example, if you highly value technology, you are more likely to seek out new technology or software on your own. On the contrary, if you do not place a high value on technology, you are less likely to seek out new technology or software unless someone, or some circumstance, requires you to.

Beliefs are propositions or positions that an individual holds as true or false without positive knowledge or proof. You can attempt to get people to change their personal beliefs. Typically, beliefs are divided into two basic categories: core and dispositional. Core beliefs are beliefs that people have actively engaged in and created over the course of their lives (e.g., belief in a higher power, belief in extraterrestrial life forms). Dispositional beliefs , on the other hand, are beliefs that people have not actively engaged in but rather judgments that they make, based on their knowledge of related subjects, when they encounter a proposition. For example, imagine that you were asked the question, “Can stock cars reach speeds of one thousand miles per hour on a one-mile oval track?” Even though you may have never attended a stock car race or even seen one on television, you can make split-second judgments about your understanding of automobile speeds and say with a fair degree of certainty that you believe stock cars cannot travel at one thousand miles per hour on a one-mile track. We sometimes refer to dispositional beliefs as virtual beliefs (Frankish, 1998).

It is no surprise then that persuading audiences to change their core beliefs is more difficult than persuading them to change their dispositional beliefs. For this reason, you are very unlikely to persuade people to change their deeply held core beliefs about a topic in a five- to ten-minute speech. However, if you give a persuasive speech on a topic related to an audience’s dispositional beliefs, you may have a better chance of success. While core beliefs may seem to be exciting and interesting, persuasive topics related to dispositional beliefs are generally better for novice speakers with limited time allotments.

Change Behavior

The second type of persuasive speech is one in which the speaker attempts to persuade an audience to change their behavior. Behaviors come in a wide range of forms, so finding one you think people should start, increase, or decrease shouldn’t be difficult at all. Speeches encouraging audiences to vote for a candidate, sign a petition opposing a tuition increase, or drink tap water instead of bottled water are all behavior-oriented persuasive speeches. In all these cases, the goal is to change the behavior of individual listeners.

Why Persuasion Matters

Frymier and Nadler (2007) enumerate three reasons why people should study persuasion:

First, when you study and understand persuasion, you will be more successful at persuading others. If you want to be a persuasive public speaker, then you need to have a working understanding of how persuasion functions.

Second, when people understand persuasion, they will be better consumers of information. As previously mentioned, we live in a society where numerous message sources are constantly fighting for our attention. Unfortunately, most people just let messages wash over them like a wave, making little effort to understand or analyze them. As a result, they are more likely to fall for half-truths, illogical arguments, and lies. When you start to understand persuasion, you will have the skill set to actually pick apart the messages being sent to you and see why some of them are good and others are simply not.

Lastly, when we understand how persuasion functions, we’ll have a better grasp of what happens around us in the world. We’ll be able to analyze why certain speakers are effective persuaders and others are not.

In addition to Frymier and Nadler's reasons, we believe it is an ethical imperative in the twenty-first century to be persuasively literate. We believe that persuasive messages that aim to manipulate, coerce, and intimidate people are unethical, as are messages that distort information. As ethical listeners, we have a responsibility to analyze messages that manipulate, coerce, and/or intimidate people or distort information. We also then have the responsibility to combat these messages with the truth, which will ultimately rely on our own skills and knowledge as effective persuaders.

Theories of Persuasion

Understanding how people are persuaded is very important to the discussion of public speaking. Thankfully, a number of researchers have created theories that help explain why people are persuaded. While there are numerous theories that help to explain persuasion, we are only going to examine three of them in this chapter: Social Judgment Theory, Cognitive Dissonance Theory, and the Elaboration Likelihood Model.

Social Judgment Theory

Sherif and Hovland (1961) created Social Judgment Theory in an attempt to determine what types of communicative messages and under what conditions will lead to a change in someone’s behavior. In essence, Sherif and Hovland found that people’s perceptions of attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors exist on a continuum, including latitude of rejection, latitude of noncommitment, and latitude of acceptance (Figure 17.1 “Latitudes of Judgments”).

Latitudes of Judgments

Imagine that you’re planning to persuade your peers to major in a foreign language in college. Some of the students in your class are going to disagree with you right off the bat (latitude of rejection, part (a) of Figure 17.1 “Latitudes of Judgments”). Other students are going to think majoring in a foreign language is a great idea (latitude of acceptance, part (c) of Figure 17.1 “Latitudes of Judgments”). Others may really have no opinion either way (latitude of noncommitment, part (b) of Figure 17.1 “Latitudes of Judgments”). Now in each of these different latitudes, there is a range of possibilities. For example, one of your listeners may be perfectly willing to accept the idea of minoring in a foreign language, but when asked to major or even double major in a foreign language, he or she may end up in the latitude of noncommitment or even rejection.

Not surprisingly, Sherif and Hovland (1961) found that persuasive messages were the most likely to succeed when they fell into an individual’s latitude of acceptance. For example, if you are giving your speech on majoring in a foreign language, people who are in favor of majoring in a foreign language are more likely to positively evaluate your message, assimilate your advice into their own ideas, and engage in the desired behavior. On the other hand, people who reject your message are more likely to negatively evaluate your message, not assimilate your advice, and not engage in the desired behavior.

In an ideal world, we’d always be persuading people who agree with our opinions, but that’s not reality. Instead, we often find ourselves in situations where we are trying to persuade others to attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors with which they do not agree. To help us persuade others, what we need to think about is the range of possible attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors that exist. For example, in our foreign language case, we may see the following possible opinions from our audience members:

  • Complete agreement. Where is the paperwork for me to change my major?
  • Strong agreement. I won’t major in a foreign language, but I will double major in a foreign language.
  • Agreement in part. I won’t major in a foreign language, but I will minor in a foreign language.
  • Neutral. While I think studying a foreign language can be worthwhile, I also think a college education can be complete without it. I really don’t feel strongly one way or the other.
  • Disagreement in part. I will only take the foreign language classes required by my major.
  • Strong disagreement. I don’t think I should have to take any foreign language classes.
  • Complete disagreement. Majoring in a foreign language is a complete waste of a college education.

These seven possible opinions on the subject do not represent the full spectrum of choices but give us various degrees of agreement with the general topic. So what does this have to do with persuasion? Well, Sherif and Hovland (1961) theorized that persuasion was a matter of knowing how great the discrepancy or difference was between the speaker’s viewpoint and that of the audience. If the speaker’s point of view was similar to that of audience members, then persuasion was more likely. If the discrepancy between the idea proposed by the speaker and the audience’s viewpoint is too great, then the likelihood of persuasion decreases dramatically.

Discrepancy and Attitude Change

Figure 17.2 Discrepancy and Attitude Change

Furthermore, Sherif and Hovland (1961) predicted that there was a threshold for most people where attitude change wasn’t possible and they slipped from the latitude of acceptance into the latitude of noncommitment or rejection. Figure 17.2 represents this process. All the area covered by the left side of the curve represents options with which a person would agree, even if there is an initial discrepancy between the speaker and audience member at the start of the speech. However, there comes a point where the discrepancy between the speaker and audience member becomes too large, which moves into the options that will be automatically rejected by the audience member. In essence, it becomes essential for you to know which options are realistic for you to persuade your audience in, and which options will never happen. Maybe there is no way for you to persuade your audience to major or double major in a foreign language, but perhaps you can get them to minor in a foreign language. While you may not be achieving your complete end goal, it’s better than getting nowhere at all.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Festinger (1957) proposed another theory for understanding how persuasion functions, called Cognitive Dissonance Theory. Cognitive dissonance is an aversive motivational state that occurs when an individual entertains two or more contradictory attitudes, values, beliefs, or behaviors simultaneously. For example, people who have a strong belief in bodily autonomy and also believe in vaccine mandates can experience competing beliefs that cause cognitive dissonance. The goal of persuasion is to induce enough dissonance in the listener that they will change their attitudes, values, beliefs, or behaviors.

Frymier and Nadler (2007) noted that for cognitive dissonance to work effectively the following three necessary conditions must be met: 1) Aversive consequences, 2) Freedom of choice, and 3) Insufficient external justification. First, for cognitive dissonance to work, there needs to be a strong enough aversive consequence, or punishment, for not changing one’s attitudes, values, beliefs, or behaviors. For example, maybe you’re giving a speech on why people need to eat more apples. If your aversive consequence for not eating apples is that your audience will not get enough fiber, most people will simply not be persuaded, because the punishment isn’t severe enough. Instead, for cognitive dissonance to work, the punishment associated with not eating apples needs to be significant enough to change their behavior. If you convince your audience that without enough fiber in their diet they are at higher risk for heart disease or colon cancer, they might fear the aversive consequences enough to change their behavior.

The second condition necessary for cognitive dissonance to work is that people must have freedom of choice. If listeners feel that they are being coerced into doing something, then dissonance will not be aroused. They may alter their behavior in the short term, but as soon as the coercion is gone, the original behavior will reemerge. It’s like the person who drives more slowly when a police officer is nearby but ignores speed limits once officers are no longer present. As a speaker, if you want to increase cognitive dissonance, you need to make sure that your audience doesn’t feel coerced or manipulated, but rather that they can clearly see that they have a choice of whether to be persuaded.

The final condition necessary for cognitive dissonance to work is related to external and internal justifications. External justification refers to the process of identifying reasons outside of one’s control to support one’s behavior, beliefs, and attitudes. Internal justification refers to the process of identifying reasons within ones control (e.g., one's character, personal traits, or beliefs) to justify changes to behavior, belief, or attitude to reduce cognitive dissonance. When it comes to creating change through persuasion, external justifications are less likely to result in change than internal justifications (Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959). Imagine that you’re giving a speech with the specific purpose of persuading college students to use condoms whenever they engage in sexual intercourse. Your audience analysis, in the form of an anonymous survey, indicates that a large percentage of your listeners do not consistently use condoms. Which would be the more persuasive argument: (a) “Failure to use condoms inevitably results in unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including AIDS”—or (b) “If you think of yourself as a responsible adult, you’ll use condoms to protect yourself and your partner”? With the first argument, you have provided external justification for using condoms (i.e., terrible things will happen if you don’t use condoms). Listeners who reject this external justification (e.g., who don’t believe these dire consequences are inevitable) are unlikely to change their behavior. With the second argument, however, if your listeners think of themselves as responsible adults and they don’t consistently use condoms, the conflict between their self-image and their behavior will elicit cognitive dissonance. In order to reduce this cognitive dissonance, they are likely to seek internal justification for the view of themselves as responsible adults by changing their behavior (i.e., using condoms more consistently). In this case, according to the Cognitive Dissonance Theory, the second persuasive argument would be the one more likely to lead to a change in behavior.

Elaboration Likelihood Model

The last of the three theories of persuasion discussed here is the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) created by Petty and Cacioppo (1986). The basic ELM model has a continuum from high elaboration (high thought process) to low elaboration (low thought process). For the purposes of Petty and Cacioppo’s model, the term elaboration refers to the amount of thought or cognitive energy someone uses to directly analyze the content of a message. High elaboration uses the central route of cognition and is designed for analyzing the content of a message. As such, when people use the central route, they examine the merits of the argument by applying critical thinking methods to weigh the pros and cons of the argument carefully. In an ideal world, everyone would process information through this central route. Unfortunately, many people often use the peripheral route for attending to persuasive messages, which is a result of low elaboration or thought process. Low elaboration occurs when people do not analyze the message for its content and use cues that are unrelated to the argument to make their decision. The attitudes and beliefs formed by the central route are stronger than those formed by the peripheral route.

The question then becomes, how do people select one route or the other when attending to persuasive messages? Petty and Cacioppo (1986) noted that there are two basic factors for determining whether someone centrally processes a persuasive message:

  • Ability: First, audience members must be able to process the persuasive message. If the language or message is too complicated, then people will not highly elaborate on it because they will not understand the persuasive message;
  • Motivation . Motivation, on the other hand, refers to whether the audience member chooses to elaborate on the message.

Frymier and Nadler (2007) discussed five basic factors that can lead to high elaboration: 1) Personal relevance and personal involvement, 2) Accountability, 3) Personal responsibility, 4) Incongruent information, and 5) The need for cognition. we will discuss each of them below.

1) Personal Relevance and Personal Involvement

The first reason people are motivated to take the central route or use high elaboration when faced with persuasive messages involves personal relevance and involvement. Personal relevance refers to whether the audience member feels that they are actually directly affected by the topic of the message. For example, if someone is listening to a speech on why cigarette smoking is harmful, and that listener has never smoked cigarettes, they are likely to think the speech topic simply isn’t relevant to them. Obviously, as a speaker, you should always think about how your topic is relevant to your listeners and make sure to highlight its importance throughout your speech. Personal involvement, on the other hand, asks whether the individual is actively engaged with the issue at hand. Does the person sends letters of support, gives speeches on the topic, has a bumper sticker, and so forth? If an audience member is an advocate who is constantly denouncing tobacco companies for the harm they do to society, then they would be highly involved (i.e., would engage in high elaboration) in a speech that attempts to persuade listeners that smoking is harmful.

2) Accountability

The second condition under which people are likely to process information using the central route is when they feel that they will be held accountable for the information after the fact. With accountability, there is the perception of the receiver that they will be evaluated on the information later. We’ve all witnessed this phenomenon when one student asks the question “will this be on the test?” If the teacher says “no,” you can almost immediately see the glazed eyes in the classroom as students tune out the information. As a speaker, it’s often hard to hold your audience accountable for the information given in a speech.

3) Personal Responsibility

When people feel that they are going to be held responsible, without a clear external accounting, for the evaluation of a message or the outcome of a message, they are more likely to critically think through the message using the central route. For example, maybe you’re asked to evaluate fellow students in your public speaking class. If only one or two students are asked to evaluate any one speaker at a time, the quality of the evaluations for that speaker will be better than if everyone in the class is asked to evaluate every speaker. When people feel that their evaluation is important, they take more responsibility and therefore are more critical of the message delivered.

4) Incongruent Information

Some people are motivated to centrally process information when it does not adhere to their own ideas. Maybe you’re a highly progressive liberal, and one of your peers delivers a speech on the importance of the Tea Party movement in United States politics. The information presented during the speech will most likely be in direct contrast to your personal ideology, which causes incongruence because the Tea Party ideology is opposed to a progressive liberal ideology. As such, you are more likely to pay attention to the speech, specifically looking for flaws in the speaker’s argument.

5) Need for Cognition

The final reason some people centrally process information is that they have a personality characteristic called need for cognition. Need for cognition refers to a personality trait characterized by an internal drive or need to engage in critical thinking and information processing. People who have a high need for cognition simply enjoy thinking about complex ideas and issues. Even if the idea or issue being presented has no personal relevance, people with a high need for cognition are more likely to process information using the central route.

Key Takeaways

  • Persuasion is the use of verbal and nonverbal messages to get a person to behave in a manner or embrace a point of view related to values, attitudes, and beliefs that they would not have done otherwise. Studying persuasion is important today because it helps us become more persuasive individuals, become more observant of others’ persuasive attempts, and have a more complete understanding of the world around us.
  • Social Judgment theory says that persuaders need to be aware of an audience’s latitudes of acceptance, noncommitment, and rejection in order to effectively persuade an audience. Cognitive Dissonance theory reasons that people do not like holding to ideas that are contrary and will do what is necessary to get rid of the dissonance caused by the two contrary ideas. Lastly, the Elaboration Likelihood Model posits that persuaders should attempt to get receivers to think about the arguments being made (going through the central route) rather than having receivers pay attention to nonargument related aspects of the speech.
  • Imagine you’re giving a speech to a group of college fraternity and sorority members about why hazing shouldn’t be tolerated. Explain the persuasive process using each of the three theories of persuasion discussed in this chapter.
  • Make a list of strategies that you could employ to ensure that your audience analyzes your message using the central route and not the peripheral route. According to Petty and Cacioppo’s (1986) Elaboration Likelihood Model, which of these strategies are most likely to be effective? Why?

Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of Cognitive Dissonance . Evanston, IL: Row, Peterson, & Company.

Festinger, L., & Carlsmith, J. M. (1959). Cognitive consequences of forced compliance. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 58 , 203–210.

Frankish, K. (1998). Virtual belief. In P. Carruthers & J. Boucher (Eds.), Language and thought (pp. 249–269). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Frymier, A. B., & Nadler, M. K. (2007). Persuasion: Integrating theory, research, and practice . Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

Perloff, R. M. (2003). The dynamics of persuasion: Communication and attitudes in the 21st Century (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 5–6.

Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). The Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 19 , 123–205.

Sherif, M., & Hovland, C. I. (1961). Social judgment: Assimilation and contrast effects in communication and attitude change . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

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Persuasive writing is any written work that tries to convince the reader of the writer’s opinion. Aside from standard writing skills, a persuasive essay author can also draw on personal experience, logical arguments, an appeal to emotion, and compelling speech to influence readers. 

Persuasive writing relies on different techniques and strategies than other written works: In a persuasive essay, it’s not enough to simply inform; you also have to convince the reader that your way of thinking is best. So to help you get started, this guide explains all the basics and provides persuasive writing examples. 

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What is persuasive writing? 

Unlike other forms of writing meant to share information or entertain, persuasive writing is specifically written to persuade , which is to say it convinces the reader to agree with a certain point of view. 

Persuasive essays are most closely related to argumentative essays , in that both discuss a serious issue with logical arguments and offer conclusive resolutions. The main difference between a persuasive essay and an argumentative essay is that persuasive essays focus more on personal experience and appeal to emotions, whereas argumentative essays mostly stick to the facts. 

Moreover, argumentative essays discuss both sides of an issue, whereas persuasive essays focus only on the author’s point of view. The language and tone in persuasive essays tend to be more conversational as well—a tactic of persuasive speech intended to build a more personal and intimate relationship between the author and reader. 

>>Read More: The Only Guide to Essay Writing You’ll Ever Need

Why is persuasive writing important?

For starters, there’s always a demand for persuasive writing in the world of business. Advertising, website copywriting, and general branding all rely heavily on persuasive messaging to convince the reader to become a customer of their company. 

But persuasive writing doesn’t always have to be self-serving. Historically speaking, persuasive essays have helped turn the tide in many political and social movements since the invention of the printing press. 

As you can see from the persuasive writing examples below, the techniques of persuasive speech can help change or challenge majority beliefs in society. In fact, if you look into any major cultural movement of the last few centuries, you’ll find persuasive writing that helped rally the people behind a cause. 

Ethos, logos, and pathos in persuasive writing

There are lots of ways to persuade people, but some methods are more effective than others. As we mention in our guide on how to write a persuasive essay , good persuasive writing utilizes what’s known as the modes of persuasion : ethos, logos, and pathos. 

First put forth by Aristotle in his treatise Rhetoric from 367–322 BCE, ethos, logos, and pathos have since become the core of modern persuasive speech and should be incorporated into any persuasive essay. Let’s break them down individually.

The ancient Greek word for “character” or “spirit,” ethos in persuasive writing refers to how the author presents themself. Authorities on an issue are most likely to convince the reader, so authors of persuasive writing should establish their credibility as soon as possible. 

Aristotle suggests that the author demonstrates their useful skills, virtue, and goodwill toward the reader to present themselves in the best light. 

The ancient Greek word for “logic” or “rationale,” logos refers to using logical arguments and evidential data. A good writer doesn’t rely only on persuasive speech—they also back up their perspective with statistics and facts. 

Logos isn’t just about backing up arguments with plenty of research (although that is essential). In persuasive writing, logos also refers to structuring your argument in the best way possible. That includes knowing how to start an essay , progressing your points in the right order, and ending with a powerful conclusion . 

The ancient Greek word for “suffering” or “experience,” pathos involves an author’s appeal to emotion. As much as we’d like to think of ourselves as logical creatures, study after study has shown that humans tend to make decisions more from emotions than from reason—and a good persuasive writer is well aware of this. 

Persuasive speech often “tugs at the heartstrings.” The author might share a personal experience, such as describing a painful event to either win the reader’s sympathy or urge them to consider someone else’s feelings. 

Aristotle emphasizes the importance of understanding your reader before employing pathos, as different individuals can have different emotional reactions to the same writing. 

Persuasive writing tips and strategies

1 choose wording carefully.

Word choice —the words and phrases you decide to use—is crucial in persuasive writing as a way to build a personal relationship with the reader. You want to always pick the best possible words and phrases in each instance to convince the reader that your opinion is right. 

Persuasive writing often uses strong language, so state things definitively and avoid “ hedging .” Persuasive writing also takes advantage of emotive language—words and phrases that describe feelings—to encourage the reader to form sentimental connections to the topic. 

Wordplay like puns, rhymes, and jokes also works as a good memory tool to help the reader remember key points and your central argument. 

2 Ask questions

Questions are great for transitioning from one topic or paragraph to another , but in persuasive writing, they serve an additional role. Any question you write, your reader will instinctively answer in their head if they can, or at least they’ll wonder about it for a moment. 

Persuasive writers can use questions to engage the reader’s critical thinking. First, questions can be used to plant ideas and lead the reader straight to the author’s answers. Second, if you’ve presented your evidence clearly and structured your argument well, simply asking the right question can lead the reader to the author’s conclusion on their own—the ultimate goal of persuasive writing. 

3 Write a clear thesis statement

A thesis statement openly communicates the central idea or theme of a piece of writing. In a persuasive essay, your thesis statement is essentially the point of view that you’re trying to convince the reader of. 

It’s best to include a clear, transparent thesis statement in the introduction or opening of your essay to avoid confusion. You’ll have a hard time trying to convince the reader if they don’t know what you’re talking about. 

4 Draw a persuasion map

A persuasion map is like an outline of your argument, designed as a writing tool to help writers organize their thoughts. While there are different formats to choose from, they all typically involve listing out your main points and then the evidence and examples to back up each of those points. 

Persuasion maps work great for people who often lose track of their ideas when writing or for people who have trouble staying organized. It’s a great tool to use before you write your outline, so you know everything you want to include before deciding on the order. 

5 Speak directly to the reader

As we’ve mentioned above, the relationship between the author and reader is quite significant in persuasive writing. One strategy to develop that bond is to speak directly to the reader, sometimes even addressing them directly as “you.” 

Speaking to the reader is an effective strategy in writing. It makes the writing feel more like a conversation, even if it is one-sided, and can encourage the reader to lower their defenses a little and consider your points with an open mind. 

6 Repeat your main arguments

Repetition is a classic technique in persuasive writing as a way to get ideas into your readers’ heads. For one thing, repetition is an excellent memory aid, as any teacher will tell you. The more someone hears something, the more likely they are to remember it. In persuasive writing, however, repetition can also influence readers’ way of thinking. 

Repeating the same idea over and over essentially normalizes it. When combined with substantial evidence and rationality, repetition can make even radical ideas seem more grounded. 

Examples of persuasive writing

As mentioned above, persuasive essays have assisted in many major historical events and movements, often when society was undergoing a significant shift in beliefs. Below are three such persuasive writing examples from different periods of American history: 

  • Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776): Not all colonial Americans thought a revolution against England was a good idea. Thomas Paine released this forty-seven-page pamphlet to the general public to convince them the American Revolution was not only a good idea but also an ethical one. 
  • Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States by Susan B. Anthony, et al. (1876): Written in the style of the Declaration of Independence, this document outlined the requests of the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). Mentioning the hardships of women and calling out the inequality between genders, this printed pamphlet was distributed illegally at the centennial Independence Day celebration in Philadelphia. 
  • Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963): Imprisoned for a nonviolent protest, King wrote this persuasive essay in response to published criticism of the Civil Rights Movement by Southern religious leaders. Although the essay addressed the critics directly, it was simultaneously approachable to anyone interested in King’s point of view. 

Persuasive writing FAQs

What is persuasive writing?

Persuasive writing is a text in which the author tries to convince the reader of their point of view. Unlike academic papers and other formal writing, persuasive writing tries to appeal to emotion alongside factual evidence and data to support its claims. 

What is an example of persuasive writing?

Some famous examples of persuasive writing throughout history include Common Sense by Thomas Paine, the Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States by Susan B. Anthony, et al., and Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. 

What are different types of persuasive writing?

While persuasive essays are the most famous example of persuasive writing, the same style also applies to writing in advertising, journalistic op-ed pieces, public speeches, public service announcements, and critical reviews.

persuasive speech model text

Persuasion and Influence

8. Creating Persuasive Texts: Modelled, Shared and Independent Writing

persuasive speech model text

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To present a point of view using persuasive text features
  • To support an argument with logical reasons and evidence

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can present a point of view clearly
  • I can support my point of view with reason and evidence
  • I can use persuasive techniques to strengthen my point of view
  • Paper for collaborative writing task
  • Access to online resources
  • Research materials
  • Publishing materials

This stage of the sequence focuses on the independent construction of texts, enabling students to create their own persuasive text whilst building skill through engagement in mini-lessons.

Demonstrate the thinking involved when planning a persuasive text.  Select a familiar topic that is of interest to the students and a planning model. For example, a persuasion map or an open mind map (searchable online). Think aloud as you plan and discuss the thinking behind your choices. For example: 'An argument is strengthened by evidence, so I will include evidence in my plan.'

Remind students that the number of paragraphs is determined by the number of key points supporting the general argument.

Provide all students with a copy of the plan.

Invite students to form collaborative pairs and to develop a section of the plan into a written format. Encourage them to consider how they might present the text, for example as a speech, cautionary tale, advertisement, poster, letter or essay. Discuss how images could be used to support the argument. The RAFT framework could be used to support student thinking and planning.

Share student work and provide teacher and peer feedback. Provide explicit feedback on editing and revising the text to include modal verbs, evaluative language, rhetorical questions and evidence to support the arguments.

Explain to students that they will be planning, drafting and publishing a persuasive text on a topic of their choice. Allow time for brainstorming and provide possible options for students.

Encourage students to consider:

  • Their general topic and argument. What do they know about the topic, what do they need to find out? How will they source that information?
  • Who is the intended audience? Is the contention dealing with a family, school, community, state or national issue? Will the age group of the audience influence the way the point of view is presented?
  • What format will they use to present the persuasive text? It could be a letter, a speech, a poster, an illustrated narrative or artwork. Encourage students to collect mentor texts that provide examples of persuasive formats, techniques and devices.
  • The planning method they will use to organise their ideas.

Discuss assessment considerations with the students. Collaborate to make a list of the key features of successful persuasive texts. You may choose to co-construct an assessment rubric with your students.

While students work independently to plan, draft and publish their persuasive texts, provide explicit teaching and individual feedback using the writing workshop model .

Possible mini lessons:

  • Writing introductions : Read introductions that include a factual account or an emotive story . Model writing a persuasive introduction using a similar style, then ask students to use the same techniques. Display the writing and ask students to add a coloured dot to the introduction they liked the best. Ask the students to explain their choices and discuss the effectiveness of the persuasive techniques that were used.
  • Structuring a paragraph : Explicitly analyse well-structured paragraphs. You could introduce or revise the TEEL model (Topic, Elaborate, Evidence, Link). Co-construct a paragraph using one of the student’s plans as a starting point.
  • Using emotive language : Ask students to determine if words suggest positive (happy, delightful, comfortable, majestic, gentle, healthy) or negative emotions (appalling, disgusting, barbaric, dangerous, expensive, boring). This could be done with a thumbs up, thumbs down activity or a word sort. 
  • Display examples of texts where the author has used evaluative language . Highlight the evaluative language. Invite the students to use an example of emotive language from the text, for example, 'slaughtered' or 'cruel', and construct a vocabulary cline , exploring how language can be used to suggest gradations in meaning. For example, pleasant, helpful, friendly, unhelpful, unfriendly, cruel, wicked, evil.
  • Modality : Model changing the impact of a statement by substituting low modality words and phrases with high modality words and phrases . Invite students to write statements using high modality and to review their own writing to include high modality words and phrases. 
  • Using personal pronouns to create a connection with the reader: Model using personal pronouns to engage and include the reader. For example, we, you, us and our. Find examples of writing where the author has used personal pronouns. Ask students to write statements and rhetorical questions using personal pronouns.
  • Exaggeration: Identify the exaggeration used in the opening of this speech, ‘ Say NO to second hand smoke. ’
  • Repetition: Find texts where key words or phrases have been repeated to help the key themes and arguments stick in the mind of the reader. Extend your student’s understanding of this persuasive strategy by providing a copy of Martin Luther King’s speech and ask them to find repeated phrases in his speech, particularly his use of the phrase, ‘one hundred years ago’, and ‘I have a dream’.
  • Rhetorical questions : Find examples of rhetorical questions to discuss with the students. Ask students to write sentences beginning with a rhetorical question such as:

Students could work in small, collaborative teams to think of as many questions as possible within a few minutes.

  • Counter argument/rebuttal : Model how to structure a paragraph that deals with a counter argument. Provide a statement expressing a clear point of view and invite students to brainstorm points for and against the statement. Record student suggestions on the board. Model writing a paragraph including a rebuttal. Provide a scaffolded paragraph for students to use as a model for their own writing. For example, “While some people may believe that …, this would not be practical because …”
  • Using evidence or expert opinion to support a point of view: Display examples of writing where the author has clearly used evidence or a quote from an expert to logically support a point of view. Model how to write a paragraph using evidence to support the main argument.
  • Writing conclusions: Ask students to find strong examples of concluding paragraphs that end the text in an interesting and convincing way. Invite students to read a chosen conclusion to the class and explain why they found that text convincing. Provide examples of conclusions that include a brief story, a question, a challenge or an inspirational quote. Provide opportunities for the students to collaborate with a partner to write concluding paragraphs experimenting with some of the techniques examined.

As students are working on their independent persuasive tasks, provide individual feedback and support during student-teacher conferences. Additional instruction and support could be provided to students with similar needs during a guided writing group.

Promote a collaborative approach to writing by providing many opportunities for students to:

  • share their writing on a daily basis and engage in group discussion about the writing process
  • comment on each other’s strengths
  • identify areas of the draft they had difficulty understanding or that they feel could be improved.

Invite students to share their drafts and work in progress. Assess student work against any agreed assessment rubrics or checklists. Allow opportunities for students to revise and improve their work.

Use feedback protocols throughout the writing sessions to identify student learning needs and focus areas for teaching. For example, the 3-2-1 protocol would provide an opportunity for students to communicate their successes and questions.

Encourage students to complete a self-reflection when they have completed their published piece. The reflection could include some of the following sentence stems:

  • Things I have learnt about persuasion …
  • Things I have found challenging …
  • Things I am proud of …
  • I used to … but now I …
  • One thing I will remember to do in the future is …
  • One thing I really want to learn is ...

Best Speech Topics, n.d. Persuasive Speech Example: Say No to second hand smoke. [Online]  Available at: [Accessed 15 March 2022].

Education World, n.d. Goal: ending child labour. [Online]  Available at: [Accessed 15 March 2022].

Ham, A., 2014. Gone Feral: The cats devouring our wildlife’, Sydney Morning Herald, September 12. [Online]  Available at: [Accessed 15 March 2022].

Kwong, J., 2018. Martin Luther King Junior’s ‘I have a dream’ speech full text and video, Newsweek, April 4. [Online]  Available at: [Accessed 15 March 2022].

Ministry of Education, Te Kete Ipurangi, n.d. Clines. [Online]  Available at: [Accessed 15 March 2022].

State Government of Victoria (Department of Education and Training), 2019. Literacy Teaching Toolkit, TEEL. [Online]  Available at: [Accessed 15 March 2022].

The Teacher Toolkit, n.d. 3-2-1. [Online]  Available at: [Accessed 15 March 2022].

Other stages

1. Exploring the Purpose of Persuasive Texts

  • To develop an understanding of the purpose and range of persuasive text types
  • I can explain why people write persuasive texts
  • I can express an opinion or point of view

2. Analysing Persuasive Elements in a Literary Text: The Island

  • To interpret an author’s point of view
  • To explore how evaluative language is used to influence the reader
  • I can suggest an author’s point of view
  • I can identify an example of evaluative language
  • I can use evaluative language to influence the reader

3. Analysing Persuasive Elements in Visual Texts

  • To understand how authors use images and language to persuade the reader
  • I can identify the author’s intention or point of view
  • I can compare and contrast the visual elements in persuasive texts
  • I can suggest the effectiveness of different approaches

4. Analysing Persuasive Techniques in Written Texts

  • To understand how authors use language, images and evidence to present their views and influence the reader
  • I can identify and discuss an example of evaluative language
  • I can identify the evidence the author uses to support their point of view

5. Analysing Persuasive Texts: Collaborative Investigation

  • To recognise that texts are written to reflect the viewpoint of the author
  • To identify the techniques authors use to develop a persuasive text
  • I can identify particular features in a persuasive text
  • I can collaborate with my peers to present our ideas clearly in writing and during discussion

6. Creating Persuasive Texts: Developing Ideas

  • To develop a clear point of view on a topic of interest
  • I can use thinking tools to organise my ideas on a topic
  • I can clearly express my point of view

7. Creating Persuasive Texts: From Talking to Writing

  • To examine how spoken texts differ from written texts
  • To use noun groups and conjunctions to write clearly
  • I can use formal language to present a point of view
  • I can use nouns, noun groups and conjunctions to improve my writing
  • I can use vocabulary to improve the meaning of a text

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Simple Steps to Create a Persuasive Speech

When creating a lesson plan to teach persuasive speech, it is important to model what a persuasive speech sounds like by providing students with specific examples.

There are countless easily accessible speeches online to help students visualize their task. One example is the TeacherTube video of Angelina Jolie discussing global action for children. Or the audio clip of Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. Once students are allowed to see and hear a persuasive speech in action, they’ll be more prepared for the written portion of the assignment.

Topic ownership

Everyone wants something and is willing to try and convince someone else to provide it. That is how most environments in the modern adult world work. Students of all ages and abilities need to learn how to craft a persuasive speech to be successful later in life.

Students use persuasion in life, often without realizing it. Young children may want their parents to take them out for ice cream. Middle school children may want to have a sleepover with friends. High school students may want to persuade their parents to buy them a car when they get their driver’s license.

If students are allowed to choose their own topic, they will feel more ownership in the assignment.

Preparing and writing the first draft

Students need to create a logical argument giving details about why they should get what they want. Some persuasive strategy definitions include:

  • Claim: The main point of your argument.
  • Big Names: The experts referred to during a speech.
  • Logos: The logic or rationale of your argument.
  • Pathos: The emotional aspect to your argument.
  • Ethos: The trustworthiness of your claims.
  • Kairos: The urgency of your argument.
  • Research: The graphs, tables and illustrations that support your argument.

After outlining all areas of the argument, students can begin to write the first rough draft of their speech. To begin, the introduction should include the main topic and the argument.

Next, the body of the paper should include correct sequencing of examples as well as a counter argument. It’s very important to include a counter argument in your speech.

Finally, the conclusion of your speech should make a strong statement and give a call-to-action to the audience.

When writing a persuasive speech, students should make sure their facts are accurate and their voice is expressed. If students are having trouble creating the essay, using a graphic organizer is sometimes helpful. There are many interactive organizers that can assist students, including the  persuasion map.

Peer editing

Once students have written a rough draft of the persuasive speech, it is important to  peer edit . Teachers should put students in groups of three to four and allow them to read each other’s essays. They can give feedback about whether the speech is convincing and ways it can be improved.

Often, when students work together, they more effectively point out mistakes in their peer’s argument while also providing words of encouragement about their strengths. You want to make sure when creating the groups that there are varying ability levels grouped together.

Next, students can revise their speech. Classmates may have pointed out areas that needed improvement or clarification. Students often need a different perspective to make sure the argument they are making is clear and reasonable.

Speaking and presenting

Finally, students should be allowed to present their persuasive speeches. Although getting up in front of the class is the best way to present orally, shy students could also be allowed to create a PowerPoint presentation that integrates the audio feature so they can practice reading their speech for the presentation.

Teachers and students can complete grading rubrics for the student presentations. Students need to learn how to evaluate other students and provide appropriate feedback. Using a  grading rubric  is the best way to make sure the assessment if fair and accurate.

Creating persuasive speeches is a valuable skill for students to learn at any age. Whether they are trying to relay an idea to their parents, their peers, or their government, it’s important to know how to create logical arguments and provide accurate, reliable support. The more students practice writing and presenting persuasive speeches, the more confident they will be when a real-life situation presents itself.

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10 Tips: How to Write and Structure a Persuasive Speech That Will Captivate Your Audience

10 Tips: How to Write and Structure a Persuasive Speech That Will Captivate Your Audience

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had to give a speech? Whether you’re a seasoned public speaker or a novice, speaking in front of an audience can be a daunting task. It’s not easy to capture the attention of your listeners and persuade them to take action. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we will provide you with 10 tips on how to write and structure a persuasive speech that will captivate your audience.

The first tip is to clearly define your topic. Make sure you have a well-defined and specific topic that you will be speaking about. This will help you stay focused and ensure that your speech is clear and concise. It’s also important to choose a topic that you are passionate about and that you have a good understanding of. When you are enthusiastic about your topic, it will be easier to persuade your audience to share your point of view.

Next, it’s important to do your research. Make sure you gather all the necessary information and facts to support your argument. This will add credibility to your speech and make your audience more likely to be persuaded. Use examples, statistics, and expert opinions to back up your statements.

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It’s also important to address any possible objections or obstacles that your audience may have. Show them that you understand their concerns and provide solutions to their problems. This will make your speech more convincing and show that you have thought through all the possible scenarios. It’s important to be empathetic and understanding when presenting your argument.

By following these 10 tips, you will become a persuasive speaker who can captivate any audience. Remember to choose a clear and specific topic, do your research, use clear and concise statements, provide evidence and examples, address possible objections, and end with a strong call to action. Keep practicing and refining your speechs, and you will become an expert in no time!

Tips for Writing and Structuring a Persuasive Speech That Captivates Your Audience

1. Use thorough analysis: Before you start writing your speech, take the time to thoroughly analyze your topic. Understand the problem, cause, and potential solutions, and gather relevant evidence and references.

2. Clearly state your thesis: Your thesis statement should clearly communicate the main point or argument of your speech. Make sure it is concise and impactful, serving as a guiding theme throughout your speech.

3. Provide examples and evidence: To support your arguments, use specific examples and evidence that are relevant and relatable to your audience. This will help them understand your point of view and increase the persuasiveness of your speech.

4. Incorporate sound and conversational language: Use language that is easy to understand and flows naturally. A conversational tone will make your speech more relatable and engaging for your audience.

5. Set the mood: Consider the mood you want to create for your speech. Is it serious or lighthearted? Depending on the occasion and topic, choose the appropriate tone and language to create the desired atmosphere.

7. Keep your audience actively engaged: Throughout your speech, actively engage your audience by asking rhetorical questions , inviting them to think, or using other interactive techniques. This will help maintain their interest and participation.

8. Balance emotion and logic: Persuasive speeches often rely on both emotional and logical appeals. Find the right balance between appealing to your audience’s emotions and presenting strong logical arguments.

9. Use storytelling to make your points: Telling stories can be a powerful way to make your points more relatable and memorable. Use anecdotes or real-life examples to illustrate your arguments and connect with your audience on a personal level.

10. Utilize additional resources: Consider incorporating additional resources such as visuals, props, or audio clips to enhance your speech. These can add depth and variety to your presentation and help keep your audience engaged.

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By following these tips, you can write and structure a persuasive speech that captivates your audience and effectively delivers your message. Remember to keep practicing and refining your skills to become an even more persuasive and impactful speaker.

Define Your Goal

For example, if your goal is to persuade your audience to support a new policy aimed at helping children in need, your speech should clearly present the advantages of the proposed policy and how it can solve the problems they are facing. You might want to give concrete examples of how the policy has positively affected other children in similar situations.

Once you have defined your goal and identified your target audience, you can start structuring your speech accordingly. The body of your speech should be well-organized and logically structured to persuade your audience. One effective approach is the problem-solution structure, where you first present the problem and its impact, and then offer a solution or a series of solutions.

Furthermore, it is important to back up your persuasive points with concrete evidence. This can be done by providing statistics, studies, expert opinions, or personal stories that support your arguments. Visualizations such as graphs or charts can also help emphasize your main points and make them more memorable.

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Establish Your Purpose

There are three main purposes for a persuasive speech:

1. Informative: You might want to inform your audience about a particular topic or issue. In this case, your goal is to provide them with new information and help them understand the topic better.

2. Persuasive: The most common purpose for a persuasive speech is to persuade your audience to take a specific action or adopt a certain viewpoint. You want to convince them that your idea or argument is the right one.

3. Entertaining: Sometimes, the purpose of a persuasive speech is simply to entertain and engage the audience. This is often the case for speeches given at events or conferences.

When writing your speech, keep in mind the governing principle of persuasive speaking: “Show, don’t tell.” Instead of simply telling your audience what you want them to believe or do, provide them with examples, facts, and evidence that support your argument. Use storytelling and vivid examples to create a picture in their minds and help them see things from your perspective.

To persuade your audience, it’s also important to consider their attitudes and beliefs. Think about what obstacles or objections they might have and how you can address them. Anticipate their questions and concerns, and be prepared to solve them persuasively.

Finally, don’t forget to consider the time and place where you’ll be delivering your speech. Adjust your content and tone accordingly. For example, if you’re giving a speech to children, you’ll need to use simpler language and examples that are relevant to their lives. On the other hand, if you’re speaking to a more mature audience, you can use more complex language and references.

By following these tips and considering your audience, purpose, and structure, you can create a persuasive speech that will captivate your audience and leave a lasting impact.

Additional Resources:

– Persuasive Patterns Used in Speech Writing

– Examples of Persuasive Speeches

Know Your Audience

1. gather information.

Before you start writing your speech, take the time to gather as much information as possible about your audience. This includes not only demographic information like age, gender, and education level, but also their beliefs, values, and interests. The more you know about your audience, the better you can tailor your message to their specific needs and desires.

2. Use Concrete Examples

One key to persuading your audience is to use concrete examples that they can relate to. Instead of making vague statements, provide specific examples that demonstrate the impact of your argument. This helps your audience visualize your point and makes it more likely that they will be persuaded to take action.

3. Balance Persuasive and Informative Elements

A persuasive speech should strike a balance between providing information and making a strong argument. While you want to provide your audience with the necessary facts and evidence to support your claims, it’s important to also use persuasive techniques to motivate them to take action. Make sure that your speech includes both informative and persuasive elements to effectively convince your audience.

4. Consider the Monroe’s Motivated Sequence

When structuring your persuasive speech, you can use the Monroe’s Motivated Sequence as a model. This sequence includes five steps: attention, need, satisfaction, visualization, and action. By following this structure, you can effectively move your audience from being unaware or uninterested to actively motivated to take action.

5. Provide References and Resources

To make your argument more persuasive, provide references and resources to back up your claims. This could include citing studies, quoting experts, or referencing reliable sources. By providing supporting evidence, you can increase your credibility and make your argument more convincing.

6. Understand Cultural and Contextual Differences

Keep in mind that different audiences may have different cultural and contextual backgrounds. It’s important to consider these differences when crafting your speech. Be aware of any potential cultural sensitivities and strive to be inclusive in your language and examples.

7. Appeal to Emotions

While it’s important to appeal to your audience’s logic with facts and evidence, don’t underestimate the power of emotions. Emotions can play a powerful role in persuading your audience. Use storytelling and emotional language to connect with your listeners on a deeper level and make your message more impactful.

8. Know the Purpose of Your Speech

Before you start writing, clearly define the purpose of your persuasive speech. Are you trying to inspire action, change attitudes, or inform your audience? Understanding your purpose will help you create a clear and focused message that aligns with your goals.

9. Keep Your Message Clear and Concise

In a persuasive speech, it’s important to keep your message clear, concise, and to the point. Avoid rambling or going off on tangents. Stick to your main points and avoid overwhelming your audience with too much information. Remember, brevity is key to capturing your audience’s attention and keeping them engaged.

10. Consider the Structural Balance

When organizing your speech, strive for a structural balance. This means presenting both sides of the argument but ultimately focusing on your own position. By acknowledging opposing viewpoints and addressing counterarguments, you can strengthen your own argument and make it more persuasive.

By knowing your audience and effectively tailoring your speech to their needs and interests, you can create a persuasive speech that captures their attention and motivates them to take action.

Develop a Strong Opening

  • Start with an attention-grabbing question or statement: Begin your speech with a thought-provoking question or a surprising statement that relates to your topic. This will immediately engage your audience and make them curious to know more.
  • Use storytelling or an anecdote: Storytelling is a powerful tool that can help you connect with your audience on a personal level. Start your speech with a short story or anecdote that illustrates the importance of your topic and its impact on people’s lives.
  • Include relevant data or statistics: Numbers and statistics can be persuasive and compelling. Incorporate relevant data or statistics that support your main points and make them more convincing.
  • Use a quote or a famous saying: Quotes from respected individuals or famous sayings can add credibility and authority to your speech. Choose a quote that relates to your topic and supports your main argument.
  • Create a sense of urgency: Highlight the importance of your topic and emphasize the need for immediate action. Make your audience understand that the issue you are addressing requires their attention and action.

Remember, your goal is to captivate your audience from the very beginning and persuade them to listen to your message. By utilizing these strategies, you can create a strong opening that will leave a lasting impression and set the stage for a persuasive speech.

Create a Logical Structure

There are several different ways to structure a persuasive speech. One common approach is to use Monroe’s Motivated Sequence, which includes five steps: attention, need, satisfaction, visualization, and action. This pattern allows you to gradually build up your argument, present evidence, and create a clear call to action.

Another approach is to organize your speech around a series of main points or arguments. This can be done in a sequential manner, where each point builds upon the previous one, or in a comparative manner, where you compare and contrast different perspectives or solutions. Whichever approach you choose, make sure to clearly outline your main points and use supporting evidence to strengthen your arguments.

In addition to these structural models, you can also draw inspiration from academic research on persuasive speaking and rhetorical analysis. For example, you can analyze the structural patterns used by renowned speakers and use them as a model for your own speech. You can also use rhetorical devices such as repetition, questions, and storytelling to make your speech more engaging and memorable.

When creating the structure of your speech, it’s essential to consider your audience’s knowledge and interests. Tailor your arguments and examples to fit their understanding level, and use language that they can easily comprehend. By doing so, you will increase their empathy and engagement with your message.

One technique that can help you create a logical structure is to break your speech into smaller sections or subsections. This allows you to address different aspects of your topic in a clear and organized manner. For example, if you were giving a speech about obesity, you could have sections on the causes of obesity, the health risks associated with it, and the potential solutions.

It’s also important to balance the amount of information you provide in your speech. While you want to provide enough evidence and examples to support your arguments, overwhelming your audience with too much information can be counterproductive. Make sure to only include the most relevant and compelling points.

Key takeaways:

  • Create a logical structure that guides your audience through your arguments.
  • Consider using Monroe’s Motivated Sequence or organizing your speech around main points.
  • Use rhetorical devices and storytelling to make your speech more engaging.
  • Tailor your arguments and language to fit your audience’s knowledge and interests.
  • Break your speech into smaller sections to address different aspects of your topic.
  • Balance the amount of information you provide to avoid overwhelming your audience.

What is the importance of using the negative to persuade in a speech?

Using the negative to persuade in a speech is important because it allows the speaker to highlight potential problems or negative consequences associated with not taking action or not supporting their point of view. This can create a sense of urgency and motivate the audience to consider the speaker’s argument more seriously.

How can using the negative in a persuasive speech help to captivate the audience?

Using the negative in a persuasive speech can captivate the audience by appealing to their emotions and fears. By highlighting the potential negative outcomes or consequences of not following the speaker’s advice or point of view, the audience becomes more emotionally engaged and invested in the speaker’s message.

Can you give me an example of using the negative in a persuasive speech?

Sure! For example, if the speaker is advocating for stricter gun control laws, they could use the negative by discussing the potential negative consequences of not having stricter regulations, such as increased gun violence or more mass shootings. By highlighting these negative outcomes, the speaker can persuade the audience to support their proposed changes.

Are there any potential drawbacks or risks to using the negative to persuade in a speech?

Yes, there are potential drawbacks to using the negative in a persuasive speech. It is important for the speaker to strike a balance between emphasizing the negative consequences and providing a positive and actionable solution or alternative. If the speaker focuses too much on the negative, it can demotivate the audience or make them feel overwhelmed, leading them to reject the speaker’s message.

What are some techniques or strategies for effectively using the negative to persuade in a speech?

There are a few techniques that can help effectively use the negative to persuade in a speech. First, it’s important to clearly and concisely explain the negative consequences or problems associated with not following the speaker’s point of view. Second, providing examples or real-life stories that illustrate these negative outcomes can make the message more relatable and impactful. Finally, offering a solution or alternative that addresses and mitigates these negative consequences can empower the audience and make them more receptive to the speaker’s persuasive efforts.

How can I make my speech more persuasive?

There are several ways to make your speech more persuasive. Firstly, you need to clearly state your argument and provide evidence to support it. Secondly, use emotional appeals to connect with your audience and make them care about your topic. Thirdly, anticipate and address counterarguments to strengthen your position. Lastly, use strong and confident language to convey your message.

What strategies can I use to persuade my audience using negative tactics?

When using negative tactics to persuade your audience, it is important to be cautious and use them sparingly. One strategy is to highlight the potential negative consequences of not taking action on your topic. This can create a sense of urgency and motivate your audience to support your argument. Another strategy is to use contrast, by presenting the negative aspects of the current situation and then offering a positive alternative or solution.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California , and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.

Modelling the text (Deconstruction)

Select persuasive texts to use as mentor or model texts or create exemplar texts to share with the students. When working with each text, discuss with students the purpose and intended audience of the text.

persuasive speech model text

Focus on the structure of the argument

Share the argument with students and have labels ready for each of the sections of the text. Examine each section of the argument and identify the purpose of each section.

Provide students with a copy of the persuasive text, which has some key words removed. You might choose to delete a certain group of words, for example, technical vocabulary, connectives or verb groups. Students work with a partner to complete a cloze activity.

Cut up the persuasive texts into paragraphs. Ask students to sequence paragraphs in the correct order, explaining their choices and the function of each paragraph.

Select one paragraph for closer reading. Introduce TEEL structure as a way of organising paragraphs:

  • T = topic sentence
  • E = elaborate or provide more explanation of idea in topic sentence
  • E= give some evidence to support the topic presented in the paragraph
  • L= linking sentence making connections between paragraph and main argument of the text.

Use highlighter pens to highlight each part of TEEL paragraph.

Unjumble sentences from one paragraph and ask students reorder these to fit TEEL structure.

Focus on the language features of the argument

  • Consider the connectives at the start of some of the paragraphs which help to make the text cohesive and provide links between the paragraphs in the text - furthermore, in addition. Discuss their function in the text. Explain to the students that these connectives signal to the reader that a new argument is being introduced in the text. Record these connectives on a display chart and add to these when reading other persuasive texts. The other connective used here is lastly – here, the connective is used to sequence the arguments in the text. Other connectives used to sequence ideas include: firstly, in conclusion, to sum up.
  • Look at how modality can be expressed through the verb group, for example, must work closely with… should respect… High modality is used to convince someone to do or believe something. Different levels of modality – low, medium or high – can be used in the verb group “depending on how we want to relate to the reader and how we want to portray our own level of commitment to an action or idea” (Derewianka, 2011, p. 66). Ask students to sort modal verbs into groups or along a continuum of modality from low to high – may, might, could, would, will, should, can, need to, must, ought to, shall, has to.
  • Present students with an array of persuasive texts that have been read throughout the unit. Using three charts headed ‘Always’, ‘Usually’ and ‘Never’ discuss and list structural and linguistic features that are common and different across the texts, for example, a good persuasive text always provides evidence for arguments.
  • Students help to devise a checklist to act as success criteria for an argument text, which can be used by individuals for self-assessment or by partners for partner feedback when writing in later stages.

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Analysing persuasive texts

Learning to spot the tricks writers use to manipulate their readers will help you to understand how writers grab and hold their attention.

Persuading the reader

Media texts are an important kind of persuasive text. They include advertisements, reviews, articles, posters and leaflets produced by mass media companies such as TV and film companies, as well as newspaper and magazine publishers and charities.

The purpose is often to persuade us to buy products or to give to charitable causes such as BBC Children in Need.

It is these features that the copywriter or creator of the text wants you to notice first.

When you are analysing a non-fiction text, such as the one above, it is important to consider all of the elements and how they contribute to the overall purpose of the text.

You should analyse how the language is being used to persuade the reader and what techniques are being used.

Stories can also be persuasive, as writers will often try to convince us of certain information. A writer may want you to like or dislike a character, and the way that they describe them can persuade you to do either of these.

Persuasive techniques

Not all persuasive texts want us to buy products - some will try make us agree with the writer’s point of view.

Writers use many kinds of persuasive techniques to try to convince their readers. These are sometimes called rhetorical devices close Rhetorical devices Techniques or language used to convey a point or convince an audience. . The main rhetorical devices are described below.

An account of a real event told in the form of a very brief story. Their effect is often to create an emotional or sympathetic response.

How it works

An anecdote is usually used to help support a persuasive argument that the writer is putting forward. For example, if a writer wants to persuade people to stop smoking, they may use an anecdote about a close relative who died of lung cancer. For English work at school and in exams, you will need to make up an anecdote to suit the exam question, but it must always be realistic.

Catchy phrases or slogans

These are phrases intended to be memorable.

These are similar to those used in songs or radio adverts. They remind the reader of a key idea or a point of view they want us to remember.

List of three/a tripartite list

This is a triple 'repetition' that adds emphasis, eg 'it’s great; it’s brilliant; it’s amazing!'

A greater effect can be achieved if the words are made more emotional or 'stronger' as the list builds up.

No one knows quite why three is a 'magic' number for lists like this, but it is – and is stronger than a list of two or four items, for example.

A list of three can help emphasise the benefits of a product or strengthen a point of view impressively but, as always, needs to be used only when it suits the form of the text (ie its genre) and the needs of the target audience.

This is a comparison of two things intended to highlight one of them because of the contrast.

By showing the different viewpoints, the writer is showing that they are fair and this makes them a more reliable source of information. The reader will see the writer as balanced, honest and trustworthy.

Criticising the opposite opinion/the opposition

This is where a writer will mention all of the alternative arguments or the alternative products and explain their downfalls.

By doing this, the writer is showing that they are aware of what the reader could be thinking and is making sure that they know all of the negative things about the opposition. It also makes the writer seem knowledgeable and that what they are saying is important.

Emotive words

These are words that are deliberately designed to make a reader have strong feelings. These can be positive or negative.

Human beings will react to some words very positively. Words like 'love', 'happiness', 'wealth' and 'good health' make us feel good. Other words, such as 'death', 'illness', 'poverty' and 'tears' make us feel negative. Writers are very clever with the words that they use in order to persuade us of their argument.

Emotive pictures

These do not have to be actual pictures. They may be a description of a picture. A detailed description of a picture can put an image in the mind of the reader.

An emotive picture will either be one that is really happy or really unhappy. It will depend on what the writer is trying to achieve. Trying to get the reader to picture a sad scene or happy scene is the writer’s way of making the reader feel good about being on their side or bad if they are not.

Exaggeration (also known as hyperbole)

This is where a writer will be really over the top in order to make it seem as if an issue is massive, ie 'how will you ever live with yourself if you ignore this?'.

The writer does this intentionally to make the reader consider the enormity of the issue. The exaggeration will usually be a common type of phrase so that the reader is used to hearing it, such as 'millions of us need this'. By using a common phrase, the reader is less likely to question the statement and is more likely believe the writer.

Forceful phrases (also known as imperatives)

These use words like, ‘think about the plight of…’ or ‘forget your previous ideas about…’

These are used to push a reader into thinking that the need to agree or disagree is urgent. It suggests that this is something that the reader must act upon quickly.

This is where the writer tries to make funny - and maybe even ridiculous - points to prove that they are right.

Humour works in two ways. The reader will usually appreciate humour, so it will make them more likely to be on the side of the writer. Also, the reader will remember what made them laugh, so it will make the message in the text even more memorable.

Imagery covers all of the descriptive writing techniques, such as metaphors and similes. These will usually be used in emotive pictures or anecdotes.

When a writer uses imagery, they will be trying to get the reader to picture something specific. When you analyse this, think about what the writer is trying to show the reader and how this helps their argument.

Opinion as fact

This is where the writer will state that their opinion is fact, when it is actually only an opinion, ie 'It is a fact that I cannot stand winter!'

Stating that opinion is fact can be quite confusing for a reader. The reader may feel automatically that what they are being told is fact, and that they should be convinced by it.

Personal pronouns

This is where the writer will use words such as, 'I' or 'we' or 'you' to talk directly to the reader.

By using the word, 'you' and addressing the reader, the writer can appeal directly to every individual reading the text. By using the word 'we' it will make it seem as if the writer is on the side of the reader, as if 'we' are all in this together.

This is where a single word or phrase is repeated over and over again in order to emphasise it.

Repetition works in a similar way to a list of three. By continually repeating the same idea or phrase, it draws attention to that particular phrase and emphasises its importance. For that reason, it is important to analyse the actual word or point being made and why it needs to be emphasised.

Rhetorical questions

These are questions that appear in writing that isn’t dialogue. As there is nobody to answer the question, they are usually designed to talk directly to the reader.

When a reader is asked a question, it allows the reader a moment to pause and think about that question. For this reason, rhetorical questions are effective in hooking a reader’s interest and making them think about their own response to the question in hand.

Shock tactics

This is where the writer will try to use shocking imagery or statements in order surprise or horrify the reader.

This is effective because it will shock the reader into action. If the reader is surprised or horrified by something, they will remember it and it is likely to cause an emotional response that will make them react.

Statistics (and facts)

Statistics are numbers or facts that are used to provide convincing information.

A writer will use these as a tool to convince the reader about something. The reader will feel that they cannot argue with facts and that the statistics prove what the writer is saying. Statistics are used to convince a reader and to add factual weight to an argument.

Quotations and expert opinions

Quotations are used when a writer brings in some information from another person, sometimes an expert, or from another article and 'quotes' what is said by someone else.

By using quotations from other people to back up what is being said or promoted, it will make the argument seem much more appealing. If other people, particularly experts, believe in something, this tool can be used to convince the reader that it must be right.

Whenever you write about the language features being used to persuade, it is important to look at as many of these features as possible. It is important to explain how each is being used so that you are able to evaluate how the writer persuades the reader on every level.

Using the PEA or IDEAS technique to structure your analysis will help with this.

PEA stands for:

  • P oint - When planning a piece of writing, based on something you've read, you first need to come up with the point of your argument.
  • E vidence (a quotation) - Once you have decided on the point that you want to make, you will then need to show evidence from the text which backs up your point.
  • A nalysis - A closing statement, showing the outcome of your argument.

If you want to expand on your analysis of a text and add your own personal opinions, you can use the IDEAS format:

  • I dentify - Give your opinion about how you think the writer wants the reader to respond to a text along with a quotation to support your view. "I think… because it says 'quotation'”
  • D escribe - Describe why the quotation supports your view. "This shows… because…"
  • E xplore - Offer an alternative explanation, saying what else the quotation might tell us. Use tentative words like could or might. “It could also mean …because… “. Or build further by using more quotations to support your argument. "This impression is enhanced by…"
  • A nalyse - Focus on individual words or phrases to say how and why they are effective in relation to what you have identified the writer as trying to do. “The word ‘……’ is effective because…”
  • a S ess - Show that you can prove what the writer’s intentions might have been because you can link this same theme or idea to other parts of the text: “The writer may have done this because…”

The effect on the reader

Every text is intended to affect its readers in some way.

Every reader is, of course, different too, and sometimes a text will affect you in ways a writer didn't imagine, or you might notice depth in it that others won't.

This is particularly true if the text matches your personal experience. A story about your home town might interest you more than one about somewhere else, or a text about smoking might affect you more if you know somebody who is trying to give up.

Remember, you will be rewarded for noticing the intended effect on the reader. Even if something doesn't interest, horrify, amuse or persuade you, you need to identify what the writer meant to do. It is usually better not to mention your personal opinion unless you are asked to.

In this worksheet are some persuasive techniques discussed in this section. You will need to be able to spot them in a text and identify what effect they are meant to have on the reader. Copy and keep this worksheet by downloading this useful table and fill in examples of each technique in the middle column

If you prefer, you could copy the information onto flashcards instead of keeping the table format, writing the technique and effect on one side and collecting examples on the other for easy revision.

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Largest text-to-speech AI model yet shows ’emergent abilities’

persuasive speech model text

Researchers at Amazon have trained the largest ever text-to-speech model yet, which they claim exhibits “emergent” qualities improving its ability to speak even complex sentences naturally. The breakthrough could be what the technology needs to escape the uncanny valley.

These models were always going to grow and improve, but the researchers specifically hoped to see the kind of leap in ability that we observed once language models got past a certain size. For reasons unknown to us, once LLMs grow past a certain point, they start being way more robust and versatile, able to perform tasks they weren’t trained to.

That is not to say they are gaining sentience or anything, just that past a certain point their performance on certain conversational AI tasks hockey sticks. The team at Amazon AGI — no secret what they’re aiming at — thought the same might happen as text-to-speech models grew as well, and their research suggests this is in fact the case.

The new model is called Big Adaptive Streamable TTS with Emergent abilities , which they have contorted into the abbreviation BASE TTS. The largest version of the model uses 100,000 hours of public domain speech, 90% of which is in English, the remainder in German, Dutch and Spanish.

At 980 million parameters, BASE-large appears to be the biggest model in this category. They also trained 400M- and 150M-parameter models based on 10,000 and 1,000 hours of audio respectively, for comparison — the idea being, if one of these models shows emergent behaviors but another doesn’t, you have a range for where those behaviors begin to emerge.

As it turns out, the medium-sized model showed the jump in capability the team was looking for, not necessarily in ordinary speech quality (it is reviewed better but only by a couple points) but in the set of emergent abilities they observed and measured. Here are examples of tricky text mentioned in the paper :

  • Compound nouns : The Beckhams decided to rent a charming stone-built quaint countryside holiday cottage.
  • Emotions : “Oh my gosh! Are we really going to the Maldives? That’s unbelievable!” Jennie squealed, bouncing on her toes with uncontained glee.
  • Foreign words : “Mr. Henry, renowned for his mise en place, orchestrated a seven-course meal, each dish a pièce de résistance.
  • Paralinguistics (i.e. readable non-words): “Shh, Lucy, shhh, we mustn’t wake your baby brother,” Tom whispered, as they tiptoed past the nursery.
  • Punctuations : She received an odd text from her brother: ’Emergency @ home; call ASAP! Mom & Dad are worried…#familymatters.’
  • Questions : But the Brexit question remains: After all the trials and tribulations, will the ministers find the answers in time?
  • Syntactic complexities : The movie that De Moya who was recently awarded the lifetime achievement award starred in 2022 was a box-office hit, despite the mixed reviews.

“These sentences are designed to contain challenging tasks – parsing garden-path sentences, placing phrasal stress on long-winded compound nouns, producing emotional or whispered speech, or producing the correct phonemes for foreign words like “qi” or punctuations like “@” – none of which BASE TTS is explicitly trained to perform,” the authors write.

Such features normally trip up text-to-speech engines, which will mispronounce, skip words, use odd intonation or make some other blunder. BASE TTS still had trouble, but it did far better than its contemporaries — models like Tortoise and VALL-E.

There are a bunch of examples of these difficult texts being spoken quite naturally by the new model at the site they made for it. Of course these were chosen by the researchers, so they’re necessarily cherry-picked, but it’s impressive regardless. Here are a couple, if you don’t feel like clicking through:

Because the three BASE TTS models share an architecture, it seems clear that the size of the model and the extent of its training data seem to be the cause of the model’s ability to handle some of the above complexities. Bear in mind this is still an experimental model and process — not a commercial model or anything. Later research will have to identify the inflection point for emergent ability and how to train and deploy the resulting model efficiently.

A representative for Amazon AI, Leo Zao (not an author of the paper), wrote that they don’t make any claims of exclusive emergent properties here.

“We think it’s premature to conclude that such emergence won’t appear in other models. Our proposed emergent abilities test set is one way to quantify this emergence, and it is possible that applying this test set to other models could produce similar observations. This is partly why we decided to release this test set publicly,” he wrote in an email. “It is still early days for a ‘Scaling Law’ for TTS, and we look forward to more research on this topic.”

Notably, this model is “streamable,” as the name says — meaning it doesn’t need to generate whole sentences at once but goes moment by moment at a relatively low bitrate. The team has also attempted to package the speech metadata like emotionality, prosody and so on in a separate, low-bandwidth stream that could accompany vanilla audio.

It seems that text-to-speech models may have a breakout moment in 2024 — just in time for the election! But there’s no denying the usefulness of this technology, for accessibility in particular. The team does note that it declined to publish the model’s source and other data due to the risk of bad actors taking advantage of it. The cat will get out of that bag eventually, though.

persuasive speech model text

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Computer Science > Computation and Language

Title: syllable based dnn-hmm cantonese speech to text system.

Abstract: This paper reports our work on building up a Cantonese Speech-to-Text (STT) system with a syllable based acoustic model. This is a part of an effort in building a STT system to aid dyslexic students who have cognitive deficiency in writing skills but have no problem expressing their ideas through speech. For Cantonese speech recognition, the basic unit of acoustic models can either be the conventional Initial-Final (IF) syllables, or the Onset-Nucleus-Coda (ONC) syllables where finals are further split into nucleus and coda to reflect the intra-syllable variations in Cantonese. By using the Kaldi toolkit, our system is trained using the stochastic gradient descent optimization model with the aid of GPUs for the hybrid Deep Neural Network and Hidden Markov Model (DNN-HMM) with and without I-vector based speaker adaptive training technique. The input features of the same Gaussian Mixture Model with speaker adaptive training (GMM-SAT) to DNN are used in all cases. Experiments show that the ONC-based syllable acoustic modeling with I-vector based DNN-HMM achieves the best performance with the word error rate (WER) of 9.66% and the real time factor (RTF) of 1.38812.

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  1. Persuasive Speech Outline, with Examples

    A persuasive speech is a speech that is given with the intention of convincing the audience to believe or do something. This could be virtually anything - voting, organ donation, recycling, and so on.

  2. 40 Persuasive Writing Examples (Essays, Speeches, and More)

    By Jill Staake Nov 29, 2023 The more we read, the better writers we become. Teaching students to write strong persuasive essays should always start with reading some top-notch models. This round-up of persuasive writing examples includes famous speeches, influential ad campaigns, contemporary reviews of famous books, and more.

  3. 17.3 Organizing Persuasive Speeches

    First, a speaker needs to give a clear and concise statement of the problem. This part of a speech should be crystal clear for an audience. Second, the speaker needs to provide one or more examples to illustrate the need. The illustration is an attempt to make the problem concrete for the audience.

  4. Persuasive Speeches

    Definition Types How to write Outline Topics Examples What is a persuasive speech? In a persuasive speech, the speaker aims to convince the audience to accept a particular perspective on a person, place, object, idea, etc. The speaker strives to cause the audience to accept the point of view presented in the speech.

  5. Persuasive speech outline: Monroe's Motivated Sequence in action

    F itting the standard speech format. If you are wondering how these 5 steps of Monroe's Motivated Sequence fit into the standard 3 part speech format, they go like this: Step 1 ( Attention) forms the Introduction. Steps 2, 3 and 4 ( Need, Satisfaction and Visualization) form the Body. Step 5 ( Action) is the Conclusion.

  6. Persuasive Speech Preparation & Outline, with Examples

    1. Select a Topic and Angle Come up with a controversial topic that will spark a heated debate, regardless of your position. This could be about anything. Choose a topic that you are passionate about. Select a particular angle to focus on to ensure that your topic isn't too broad.

  7. Persuasive Speeches

    Organization of a Persuasive Speech. You can see that the overall structure of a persuasive speech follows a common model: introduction, body (arguments and support), two-tailed arguments, and conclusion. Study the example at the end of this chapter to see this structure in action.

  8. How to Write and Structure a Persuasive Speech

    Writing the Text The introduction of your speech must be compelling because your audience will make up their minds within a few minutes whether or not they are interested in your topic. Before you write the full body you should come up with a greeting. Your greeting can be as simple as "Good morning everyone. My name is Frank."

  9. Structure of a Persuasive Speech

    A persuasive speech, in other words, is an argument supported by well-thought-out reasons and relevant, appropriate, and credible supporting evidence. We can classify persuasive speeches into three broad categories: Those that deal with propositions of fact .

  10. 11.2 Persuasive Speaking

    Persuasive speaking seeks to influence the beliefs, attitudes, values, or behaviors of audience members. In order to persuade, a speaker has to construct arguments that appeal to audience members. Arguments form around three components: claim, evidence, and warrant. The claim is the statement that will be supported by evidence.

  11. How to Write a Persuasive Speech: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

    3. Address the counter-argument. Although it is not strictly necessary, your argument may be stronger if one or more of your supporting points addresses the views of the opposing side. This gives you a chance to address your audience's possible objections and make your argument stronger.

  12. Persuasive Speech: Actionable Writing Tips and Sample Topics

    Storytelling. More controversial persuasive speech topics, in particular, will require you to artfully work through various objections and mix different persuasion methods. Now let's take a closer look at each one. 1. Repetition. There's a reason that advertisements repeat the same thing over and over again.

  13. Introduction to Persuasive Speaking

    Explain the three theories of persuasion discussed in the text: social judgment theory, cognitive dissonance theory, and the elaboration likelihood model. People are bombarded by persuasive messages in today's world, so thinking about how to create persuasive messages effectively is very important for modern public speakers.

  14. 12.1: Persuasion

    In his text The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century, Perloff (2003) noted that the study of persuasion today is extremely important for five basic reasons:. The sheer number of persuasive communications has grown exponentially. Persuasive messages travel faster than ever before. Persuasion has become institutionalized.

  15. Persuasive

    A hilarious companion to" I Wanna Iguana." Ever since their baby sister came along, Alex has been forced to share a room with his little brother, Ethan, and it's a nightmare. Ethan always breaks stuff, snores like a walrus, and sticks crayons up his nose. No hardworking, well-behaved, practically grown-up boy like Alex should have to put up ...

  16. Persuasive Writing Strategies and Tips, with Examples

    1 Choose wording carefully. Word choice—the words and phrases you decide to use—is crucial in persuasive writing as a way to build a personal relationship with the reader. You want to always pick the best possible words and phrases in each instance to convince the reader that your opinion is right. Persuasive writing often uses strong ...

  17. 8. Creating Persuasive Texts: Modelled, Shared and Independent Writing

    1. Exploring the Purpose of Persuasive Texts EXPLORE Suggested Learning Intentions To develop an understanding of the purpose and range of persuasive text types Sample Success Criteria I can explain why people write persuasive texts I can express an opinion or point of view 2. Analysing Persuasive Elements in a Literary Text: The Island EXPLORE

  18. Writing and Presenting a Persuasive Speech

    When creating a lesson plan to teach persuasive speech, it is important to model what a persuasive speech sounds like by providing students with specific examples. There are countless easily accessible speeches online to help students visualize their task. One example is the TeacherTube video of Angelina Jolie discussing global action for children.

  19. 10 Tips: How to Write and Structure a Persuasive Speech That Will

    1. Use thorough analysis: Before you start writing your speech, take the time to thoroughly analyze your topic. Understand the problem, cause, and potential solutions, and gather relevant evidence and references. 2. Clearly state your thesis: Your thesis statement should clearly communicate the main point or argument of your speech.

  20. Modelling the text (Deconstruction)

    Literacy Teaching Toolkit Modelling the text (Deconstruction) Select persuasive texts to use as mentor or model texts or create exemplar texts to share with the students. When working with each text, discuss with students the purpose and intended audience of the text. See an example of a simple teacher created persuasive text about orangutans.

  21. Student Writing Models

    Student Models. When you need an example written by a student, check out our vast collection of free student models. Scroll through the list, or search for a mode of writing such as "explanatory" or "persuasive.".

  22. 3 Quick and Effective Persuasive Writing Scaffolds

    get started! get focused on a writing task. feel increased levels of self-confidence. make the transition from guided writing to independent writing. generate ideas. organise their ideas. keep track of their ideas. On the other hand, writing scaffolds can limit creativity and encourage a formulaic approach to writing.

  23. Analysing persuasive texts

    Media texts are an important kind of persuasive text. They include advertisements, reviews, articles, posters and leaflets produced by mass media companies such as TV and film companies, as well ...

  24. Persuasive Strategies in English Political Discourse: A Critical

    The present study investigates persuasive strategies employed by President Joe Biden in his speech on the end of the war in Afghanistan. Fairclough's (1995) three-dimensional model of Critical ...

  25. Largest text-to-speech AI model yet shows 'emergent abilities'

    Researchers at Amazon have trained the largest ever text-to-speech model yet, which they claim exhibits "emergent" qualities improving its ability to speak even complex sentences naturally ...

  26. BASE TTS: Lessons from building a billion-parameter Text-to-Speech

    BASE TTS is the largest TTS model to-date, trained on 100K hours of public domain speech data, achieving a new state-of-the-art in speech naturalness. It deploys a 1-billion-parameter autoregressive Transformer that converts raw texts into discrete codes ("speechcodes") followed by a convolution-based decoder which converts these speechcodes ...

  27. OpenAI will now let you create videos from verbal cues

    Artificial intelligence leader OpenAI introduced a new AI model called Sora which it claims can create "realistic" and "imaginative" 60-second videos from quick text prompts.

  28. Azure OpenAI Service announces Assistants API, New Models for

    New Text-to-Speech (TTS) models . Our new text-to-speech model generates human-quality speech from text in six preset voices, each with its own personality and style. The two model variants include tts-1, the standard voices model variant, which is optimized for real-time use cases, and tts-1-hd, the high-definition (HD) equivalent, which is ...

  29. Syllable based DNN-HMM Cantonese Speech to Text System

    This paper reports our work on building up a Cantonese Speech-to-Text (STT) system with a syllable based acoustic model. This is a part of an effort in building a STT system to aid dyslexic students who have cognitive deficiency in writing skills but have no problem expressing their ideas through speech. For Cantonese speech recognition, the basic unit of acoustic models can either be the ...