Persuasive Speech Introduction

This week we are beginning our persuasive speech assignment. Everyone will be expected to write a five-paragraph speech on a controversial topic and present his or her speech to the class.  The class will then score each speech using various criteria.  The student speaker with the highest scores in each class will be eligible to win a gift card.

What do we mean by Persuasive Speech?

Persuasive speaking urges us to do something. Persuasive speakers lead, evoke emotions and ask for audience commitment. Sometimes persuasive speeches are aimed at persuading an audience of the importance of an issue. At other times, persuasive speeches aim for personal action, as in getting people to join an organization, buy a product or service, or support a cause.

Methods of Persuasion

People have been trying to influence one another for a long time. Maybe one of the most articulate early speakers was the Greek Philosopher Aristotle. His ideas are as relevant today as they were when he was teaching around 300 B.C. He thought there were basically three ways to influence people:

    * Credibility -- "ethos."  Sometimes we believe something simply because           we trust the person telling us. You want to look like you know what you're         talking  about.

    * Emotional appeal -- "pathos." Sometimes we do things because of a "gut         feeling" or an appeal to our emotions, whether those of compassion or fear.         Advertisers make great headway tweaking our concerns about what others         might think about us.

    * Rational appeal -- "logos." Providing good reasons is important. Providing        evidence and reasoning are a strong part of the persuasive process.

  A Well-Written Persuasive Speech Should… 

    open with a clear statement of the issue and your opinion

    be geared to the audience you’re trying to persuade

    provide facts, examples, statistics, and reasons to support your opinion

    answer opposing views

    show clear reasoning

    include strategies such as frequent summaries to help listeners remember your message

    end with a strong restatement of your opinion or a call to action 

What is Involved In This Assignment?

1. Clarify your position.  How do you feel about the issue and why?

2. Find support for your position. What research will you have to do to back up your case? Where can you find that information? Which evidence will help you make your point most effectively?

3. Identify your audience.  What do your listeners already know about the issue? What is their stand on it?

4. Consider how to grab your listeners’ attention.  What startling statistics, amusing anecdotes, or intriguing questions can you use to hook your audience at the beginning?

5. Decide how to present your arguments. How can you organize your arguments so they have the greatest impact? Do you want to begin with the argument your audience will probably agree with and move to more controversial points? Would starting with the strongest argument—or ending with it—work better?