Persuasion Speech


I. Attention-getter - something that really gets our attention, ie. lighting up a cigarette for an anti-smoking speech, a shocking statistic, a dramatic story, etc. Do not ask a question that could elicit a verbal response or that simply asks how many people disagree with you since you already know that at least five people do disagree with you.

II. Thematic Statement - A statement of your topic and your specific stand on the topic, ie. - My speech today is on the death penalty and I am against it.

III. Establish credibility - be specific, ie. the specific website, periodical, book, etc.

IV. Preview Statement - State your main points.


I. Information - a simple explanation of your topic in case there are people who do not know about it. Do not spend a lot of time with this, simply give a definition of your topic so everyone knows exactly what you are talking about. A required element of the speech.

You must use 2 out of the following 3 approaches:

I. Deductive - going from a general idea to a specific idea, ie.

  1. All men are mortal.
  2. Socrates was a man - Therefore
  3. Socrates was mortal.

In the example, you start with a general idea and deduce down to a specific idea. If all will agree with the first general statement and the second still general statement , then they must agree with the last statement, which in the case of the speech is your opinion on the topic. This is used in advertising frequently. Example: Choosy mothers choose JIFF. Implication:

A good mother is a choosy mother. You are a good mother, therefore you will choose JIFF.

II. Inductive - the reverse of deductive. Going from a specific idea to a general one usually using the laws of probability. Example: Over the last 20 years diamonds have increased in value by 5% each year, therefore it is logical to induce that diamonds will continue to increase in value. The final statement should be your stand on the topic.

III. Carrot-Stick - this approach gives both sides of the issue and shows that one side (the side that you believe) clearly outweighs the other and therefore should be adopted. In the speech you will list both the pros and the cons on the topic. You must be careful to list all the pros and cons so that your argument is not destroyed in the question and answer period. This idea is similar to taking a piece of paper and folding it in half and listing all the reasons why you should do something on one side and all the reasons why you should not on the other - whichever has more reasons on it is what you should do.

IV. Primacy/Recency - This approach simply dictates where you will put your strongest argument in the body of the speech. Primacy means that you will start your body with your strongest point first and end with your weakest point. This is using an anti-climatic approach. Recency is the reverse, you will start the body of the speech with the weakest argument first and build to the strongest one thereby creating a climatic approach. This is a required element of the speech and deals strictly with the arrangement of the material in the body of the speech.

Also include the following:

A. Statistics - Required - you must include some kind of statistics to back up your stand.

B. Testimony or Personal Testimony - a recommended addition to your speech. Testimony is simply a direct quote from an authority on the issue that you quote verbatim in your speech. Personal testimony is telling us about something that specifically happened to you to cause you to hold the opinion that you do. Example: I feel everyone should carry a firearm because my mother was shot working on our store and if she had had a gun she could have defended herself. Personal testimony can make an idea more accessible to your audience if you in fact have an experience to recount to them.

C. Deanchoring Beliefs - This is highly recommended persuasive technique. To deanchor others beliefs, you can appeal to their emotions in order to get them to change their minds. There are several different emotions you can appeal to. Example: you can appeal to their sense of fear. Psychiatrists will tell you that adults share 3 basic fears:

Since you know about these, if you could appeal to any of these fears in your speech, it could be very effective. For example: If you do not follow my advice, you may lose your home or your family, etc. Other emotions you can appeal to are pride, sympathy/pity, anger (but make sure people get angry with the issue - not with you), affection, guilt, etc. This approach can be very effective but remember to involve the audience's ego not your own. In other words, you do not get emotionally involved, you are manipulating your audience's emotions.


I. Summary - reiterate thematic statement

II. Concluding Remarks - make sure the audience knows the speech is over

Question and Answer Period

A. Inoculation - forewarned is forearmed

B. Answering Questions

1. Take questions from the whole group - not just the people you paid $5.00 to ask you the questions you know the answers to.

2. Respond to the whole group - not just the person who asked the question with the idea in mind that everyone would like to hear the answer or that someone else had a similar question.

3. Compliment the questioner - That's a great question, Thanks for asking, etc.

4. Never reprimand the questioner - Well, if you had been listening or Well, that's a stupid question, etc.

The speech should last a minimum of  7 minutes and not exceed 10 minutes before the question and answer period.