How to Create Persuasive Speech

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13 minutes
Originally published Nov 20, 2018, updated Apr 29, 2021
How to Create Persuasive Speech

It is a type of speech used to persuade an audience. It can be done formally or informally, depending on the intent.

You can notice its use in legal proceedings, sales pitch, debates, or even daily routine, depending on the conversation's nature. You need to put your point-of-view across, and that is not possible if you lack the skills to convince the listener. How do you persuade, you ask? However, there are several ways to start with the main tools you will need to use persuasive public speaking.

Main Tools for Persuasion

Aristotle is a Greek Philosopher and widely known for being an articulate speaker. His ideas still connect to us as they did around 300 B.C. According to his teachings, three tools can influence others if incorporated in speech - ethos, pathos, and logos.

Ethos (Credibility)

Suppose a fashion designer goes on talking about the benefits of herbal toothpaste. On the other hand, a dentist is stating the relevant advantages. Who are you more likely to trust? The latter, right? This is because you would find a person who has the knowledge and experience in a field more capable and trustworthy rather than anybody else. Similarly, it would help if you assured the audience members that you know what you are talking about. You have the knowledge and skills, if not experienced, in the domain of your speech.

Pathos (Emotional Appeal)

In a persuasive speech, this component is very crucial. Listen to any eloquent speaker; you will find one common thing in most of them - emotional appeal. This is the ability to enable the listeners to connect to you and relate on a personal level. This way, they will be more convinced and become flexible in accepting your standpoint. These feelings can include fear or compassion. Anything that will drive them to engage with you more and feel moved by your speech. You can quote your personal experiences here that you believe others would have too. Your message will imprint in the audience's minds and will remain there for a whole lot longer.

Logos (Logical Appeal)

This is all about backing up your claims. Speaking without evidence and examples is just not effective. This is quite similar to a courtroom. It is essential to provide reasons and evidence to support an appeal, you need concrete reasoning to make your speech persuasive.

You can convince a lot more people by including stats and figures that support your stance. For example, if you say, "Fast food can cause obesity in youngsters." it is less effective than, "According to N.Y. Times, last year, due to continuous indulgence in fast food, the obesity rate among youngsters increased from 15-32%."

You need this skill not only when you are speaking, but conveying it through writing is just as crucial. Let’s begin with ways to become a persuasive speaker.

Pre-Speaking Activities

Before you get down to speaking, there are a few steps you need to take care of. These will ensure you deliver a smooth and well-structured message without any errors. Winging it without doing your homework will expose you to the risks of failing at this art.

Get to Know Your Topic

Without a firm grip on the topic at hand, you can never deliver a fluent, logical, and adequately backed up speech. Even though it is a good idea to talk about a subject you have a passion for or prior knowledge about, that does not mean you can skip this part. You have to research all the related supporting facts and figures, but you also need to prepare yourself for any audience's random questions.

This is especially important if the speech idea is controversial. It would be smart to understand the counter-arguments while handling a sensitive issue. You will sound more persuasive if you will also be addressing the viewpoint of the opposing party. You can utilize hard copies from your nearest library or use the internet. Make sure to use authentic and credible sources, for example, Wikipedia and Google Scholar. Be vigilant while using social media for your evidence. You can also quote the references as you speak so that your message sounds more believable. Also, avoid overdone topics like climate change. Good persuasive speech topics can be cyberbullying, the use of seatbelts, and the death penalty.

Understand Your Goal

You should know what you are trying to achieve through this. Without this, you cannot tailor your content accordingly. You have to stay focused and glued to the theme and the purpose of this speech. Ensure the idea is crystal clear in your mind before moving forward.

For instance, you are talking about recycling. It is essential to learn about it, but what is it that you want the audience to take from the speech and implement. Are you convincing them to support the recent proposal about the town's recycling project? Do you want them to donate their recyclable waste to your organization and not dispose of them? Each object will require a different speech and a different approach. Stay prepared.

Audience Analysis

Before speaking, you need to learn about the people who will be listening to you speak. This will prepare you for many aspects. For example, you will know the type of vocabulary to use, the different kinds of opposing points that can come your way, the level to which they can be engaged, and many more.

An audience with little knowledge regarding your subject will also require an in-depth background to understand your context. Also, you will refrain from using jargon and complex vocabulary. In contrast, a team of experts will find this type of speech straightforward and boring. Similarly, people who already agree with your viewpoint are more likely to be convinced to take action. On the other hand, you will need to provide much evidence to disagree with people on the same page as yours. In short, you will know what is being expected from you and the critical approach to tackle it.

Select the Right Persuasive Approach

By now, you should already be equipped with the three persuasive tools mentioned earlier. It is time; you should learn their appropriateness in different situations. It would be best to use ethos to appeal where the people are listening value morals and ethics. Pathos is effective for where the topic is controversial or sensitive. People can easily feel connected with you by expressing your emotions about it. Logos is crucial for the audience that is more rational and intellectual. These people do not get convinced without proper reasoning. Quote sources and references, draw links, and describe cause and effect relationships to gain their confidence.

Be Well-Dressed

On the big day, prepare well. This does not confine to the speech but also your attire. You should dress appropriately for the audience and venue. Generally, this means dressing professionally. However, the degree of formality will differ. Not only will you appear more credible and professional, but it will also boost your self-confidence. Avoid wearing funky colors and silhouettes. Incorporate neutral colors like whites, browns, and blacks.

Tips to Follow while Delivering Your Speech

Here is what you should take care of:

Engage Your Audience

You should maintain your audience's attention throughout the entirety of your speech. It would help if you employed techniques that will prevent them from losing interest.

One excellent method is to engage your listeners. This can be done by asking them to do something specific. You can also provide them with the needed resources to make it more exciting and convenient. It is challenging to convince people to take action; nonetheless, make it simple for them. This way, they will be more likely to follow through.

You can question members of the audience randomly about their experiences or a question you pose. You can also start with an emotional punch. It will allow you to capture their attention and encourage a positive response. Create an enticing opening to hook the audience from the very start.

Demonstrate Passion

If you are genuinely passionate about an issue, your intensity will cut through every source of distraction and allow you to connect with the audience. This passion should reflect in your speech. Convince the audience that your proposition would help solve practical problems. If you convey it correctly, even the people in opposition will listen to you and take you seriously. Show them that you are sincere and that their input matters to you. You can do this by highlighting your contributions in this regard. Describe to them how you feel in a certain way and what makes you think this way. Using pathos as an appeal is ideal.

Keep it Easy to Understand

Your audience will not be persuaded if they fail to understand what you are trying to convey. For being an effective speaker, you have to be clear in your speech. Keeping in mind your audience, choose words, examples, phrases, and visuals. Also, deliver your speech at a pace that the listeners can absorb. It would help if you did this by using vocabulary that does not have jargon and foreign language. Besides, it is always better to use short and precise sentences. People can quickly lose focus when listening to long sentences. Keep asking your audience if they understand what you are conveying. You will also encourage their participation and find out if your approach is working.

Maintain Effective Body Language

If you have the correct body language while speaking, consider it half the battle won. It is one of the critical factors and an effective communication tool for becoming excellent persuaders. It makes your message more believable and confident. Your audience will understand you easily. Work on your facial expressions, manner of speaking, physical movements, and postures.

A good example is to make eye contact. If you maintain it while speaking, it will make you appear more convincing. Another posture that will determine your internal state of mind is how you use your hands. If you fold your hands across your chest while speaking, it will look like you are defensive and not as confident. Keep moving your hands while you talk. Besides, standing still at one spot is not recommended. Keep moving and shift your focus among the members of the audience.

How to Write a Persuasive Speech?

With all the tips covered about delivering a persuasive speech, it is time to learn how you can incorporate this skill into your writing. It might feel daunting at first, but the guideline below will help you develop quality content good enough to convince the audience.

Structure Matters

Now that you are writing this persuasive speech, you will also have to be careful about the following structure. This will enable you to craft a more logical, consistent, and systematic persuasive essay. You can either start with light and informative points and then gradually build up the argument's intensity. You can begin to state the main persuasive arguments first to determine the seriousness of the issue.

By following a structure, you will be ensuring that no important detail is missed out. The most basic way you can structure it is by including an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The intro should brief about the issue you will be persuading the audience about. Try incorporating at least three main logical arguments in the main body. These have to be backed up using solid evidence. Finally, end with an impactful conclusion. Also, add recommendations and the action plan for the audience. While you are doing this, do not forget to keep all the paragraphs cohesive and smooth transitions.

Begin with a Strong Opening

You first need to grasp the attention of the readers. You can use various elements to ensure your opening is smashing. You can be a little dramatic or startling in the beginning. You can also derive a link with the audience. Do this by showing them that you share a similar background with them or face a mutual problem. Show that you are genuinely concerned. State your credentials to clarify to the audience that you are credible and professional enough to rely on. Follow this by mentioning your goal and the significance of this speech and end it with a road map. This will get the readers ready for what is in store for them.

Tell a Story

Similar to a story, your speech has to have a narrative. Try conveying your message in a story form. This will help you build drama and keep the audience encouraged. An excellent way to do so is to start with a slow warm-up, take it up a notch in the middle, and end the essay with an inspirational and thought-provoking lesson. Write this story in a manner that sounds natural and true. Besides, a good story can be way more powerful than stating even the most compelling statistics and facts. You can easily connect to the readers using the emotional appeal.

Be Concise

The world's greatest speeches comprise an average of 300 words. However, you can change this according to your time slot and the nature of your topic. But, try using small phrases and brief sentences. Even if you are trying to establish three arguments, do not take many words to reach the essence of these. Get into each of them straight away. Being concise does not mean you forget to support each argument with enough reference and evidence. Understandably, it is easier to be verbose than brief, but this is an art you need to practice. Especially while writing a persuasive essay where maintaining the attention span of the readers is vital.

Be Authentic

Speechwriting never includes any made-up fact or figure. No matter how uneducated and unaware the audience might be on the given topic, it is never an option. Stating one false fact can damage your credibility as a writer. Readers will not believe anything else you might have to say. Also, stay vigilant while quoting text, numbers, and examples. Always use credible authentic sources.

Other than this, in an attempt to persuade the readers via using emotional appeal, you might consider crafting false experiences. This is not an ethical and recommended approach to take. Stay sincere and honest. Readers can easily detect if you are genuinely interested in the topic or just using empty words.

Conclude with a Call to Action

This part would remind your audience about what is expected of them after all.

This will explain to them how your speech involved them and is of significance. There is no need to hesitate. Instead, utilize it as an opportunity to reinforce your main points. These should be clear, concise, and realistic. Set them by keeping your audience in mind. Also, take any questions at the end to remove any confusion among the audience. This will ensure they have fully understood what you have tried to explain. It will also promote participation.

Ethics of Persuasion

Not all kinds of persuasion are ethical. It is primarily considered unethical if you are using it for personal gain and others' expense. Some people do so by depriving the audience of the complete truth and circumstances. Some methods are wholly written off as unacceptable. This includes coercion, torture, and brainwashing. Notably, this has to involve your honest explanation and input from the audience.

Ethical persuasion should achieve the following goals:

  • Explore the viewpoint of the other person;
  • Explaining your viewpoint;
  • Creating resolutions.

AIDA Model

No matter how persuasive you may be, it will go down the drain if you fail to grasp the audience's attention initially. Follow the AIDA model. This is a tool often used in marketing and advertising. Here A stands for alert, meaning hook the audience. Next comes I - this is for interest, explain to the audience why listening to you is of interest to them. Then initiate a desire in them - this is the D in this model. Give them good arguments, that they start wanting to do what you want them to. A is for action; this is the implementation of your entire planning. Follow this model to come up with an effective and impactful persuasive speech.

You should now have no difficulty in neither persuasive speaking nor writing a great speech with all the steps described above. However, both are slightly different but follow a general guideline.

Max Malak
Academic and Business Consultant

You can find me reading Hemingway in the far south of Spain. Fueled by caffeine.