Unlike other gifts, public speaking is not a talent one is born with. With a bit of dedication, practice, and training, anyone can deliver the best speech to a crowd. To become a public speaker, one needs to cultivate several attributes like charisma, humor, charm, and persuasive ability. There are numerous types of speech, and persuasive speech is one of the most common ones. When used well, a persuasive speech can make your listeners do whatever it is you need them to do.
What is a persuasive speech?
A persuasive speech is an inspiring and appealing talk delivered to a group of people. The goal of a persuasive speech is to convince the listener to complete a given action. Whether you want to influence a crowd to vote, change their minds on a given topic, or protect the environment, persuasive speeches can bring you closer to your goal.
Persuasive speeches can be written in very simple formats. It should include a thesis that reflects the main points in the speech and shows the intention of the author in informing the audience even as they work to persuade them. If you are a student trying to write a convincing persuasive speech, here are timely tips you can use to ensure your listener is compelled to act by your speech.
What is the purpose of a persuasive speech?
As mentioned earlier, the main goal of a persuasive speech is to convince your audience to agree with your way of thinking or change their behavior. The perfect speech should also:
- Give your audience the basic data of your topic
- Make the listener understand the importance of the topic and how it relates to their everyday life.
- Make your audience more accepting of inferior intellectual problems, thoughts, critique, and solutions.
For your speech to meet the intended purpose, you need to ensure you pick the perfect topic, and find relevant information related to your topic. This is the best way to ensure you can convince your audience to agree with you.
To write a persuasive speech, you need to structure the argument in a way that it offers a solution to a problem. The first thing you need to do as a speaker is to make your audience see the importance of paying attention to the problem. This can be done by relating the issue with their life. Once the problem becomes relatable, you will have an easier time convincing them to adapt your solution.
A standard format for a persuasive speech should have an introduction. This part should arouse the curiosity of your audience and make them want to listen. The body should comprise of a few points, well written out and explained. The last part of a speech is the summary or call to action.
Steps to writing a persuasive speech
Decide on the topic
When your lecturer gives you a persuasive speech writing assignment, it is usually the task of the student to pick a topic. Choosing the right topic is the most challenging part of writing a persuasive speech. There are hundreds of choices to pick from, which overwhelms students. The best way to choose a topic is to go for an idea that is close to your heart and one you are genuinely interested. Discussing and informing an audience about a topic you are passionate about improves the chances of achieving your primary goal.
List of the best topics to write on include:
Topics in health care
- What are the benefits of blood donation?
- What is the importance of stem cell research?
- The most popular cosmetic surgery procedures and their effects
- Effects of smog on health
- Cost of prescription drugs and whether it is justified
Topics on economics
- The changing phases of the cost of education?
- What is the cause of political corruption?
- What is are the principles that govern research funding?
- Basic economic principles
- Is the insurance industry all it is pegged out to be?
Law related topics
- Why is gambling illegal?
- What are zoning laws?
- Why are election reforms important?
- What women's rights are most essential?
- Is the death penalty still justified in the modern day?
Social issues topics
- Should prayers be a part of the education system?
- How English speaking has changed over the years
- The effect of advertising o young people
- What are the benefits of internet dating?
- What are living wills?
- Why should recycling be emphasized?
- Benefits of water conservation
- Can fire safety be achieved to prevent forest fires?
- Is global warming real?
- Are helium balloons safe for the environment?
Topics on politics
- Political correctness
- Are women better leaders than men?
- Why are there fewer women presidents than men?
- The problems of global politics
- Can politics help children of war?
Other interesting topics
- What are the effects of overpopulated prisons?
- What are NC-17 movies?
- Influence of video games on young children
- Homosexuality in the military
- What is the national endowment for the arts?
If you are not sure about what to write about, any of the topics listed above can go a long way in ensuring you get the best score in your persuasive speech writing.
Investigate your topic
Once you pick your topic, you need to learn as much as you can on it. This is especially important if you are dealing with a controversial topic. Ensure you understand your topic to be able to deliver arguments from all angles.
You can spend time reading books related to your topic. Your school library is a perfect place to find books that can help you to understand it better. You can also search online for information and resources to base your research on. Be sure only to use reliable sources such as major news outlets or academic writings.
To find out what people think about your topic, you can go through opinion-related sources like radio shows, partisan cable news, and editorials. Do not base your research on these resources since most of them are viewers' opinions and can be biased.
Establish your goal
Before you start writing, you need to know what it is you seek to establish with your speech. This will help you to tailor your content to meet your goal. For instance, if you are writing on recycling, it is important to know a lot about this topic. However, your speech needs to reflect on what you need from the audience. Is your goal to get people to vote in favor of making recycling mandatory? Are you trying to convince then to sort their trash before they send it to the collection points? One topic can have different goals, which is why it is essential to consider it.
Get to know your audience
Before you write your speech, you need to consider who your audience is and what their views on the topic are. This should greatly influence the content of your speech.
If your audience is not conversant with the topic, you will need to give them a background in a simple language. However, if your audience is a team of experts, you will need to explain the topic in technical terms to ensure they do not get bored with simple speech.
Talking to an audience that already agrees with your ideas is the easiest to convince them to take action. For this crowd, your goal is not to convince them that you are right, but rather to prompt them to do something in favor of the topic. For an audience that does not agree with you, you will need to persuade them to see your point of view before anything else.
For instance, in the case of a recycling topic, if you want to convince your audience to take up mandatory recycling, a crowd that already agrees with recycling you only need to convince them of the value of the mandatory program. If the audience comprises of people who do not care for recycling, you first need to make them see the benefit of recycling before introducing the program to them.
Choose a persuasive approach
Depending on the topic you choose and the type of audience you have, there are several methods you can use to persuade your audience. these include:
Ethos: This is where you appeal to the morals and ethics of the audience. For instance, you can say, “recycling is the right/moral thing for us to do. Not doing it wasted our resources, which steal from future generations.”
Pathos: This is where you appeal to the emotions of your listeners – “Consider the animals that die in the ocean because of our littering and polluting of the water. Or animals that lose their habitat every day when we build on wildlife reserves or cut down trees. With more recycling, we would reduce pollution and make the world habitable for all creatures.”
Logos: This is where you appeal to the intellect and logic of your audience. – “We already know that there is a limited supply of natural resources. Recycling is the only way to ensure these resources do not run out.”
You can use one of the methods or a combination of all three, depending on the audience.
Outline your points
With the perfect persuasive approach, you now need to write down the main points of your speech. How many points you need to support your stand on the topic depends on the amount of time you need to speak. However, as a rule of thumb, three to four is the best number of points to have for a persuasive speech. This will ensure your points are well articulated, and that you do not lose the interest of the audience.
Writing your speech
You need a strong opening
For you to be able to persuade your audience, you need first to grasp their attention. This is done with a strong opening. There are five elements of a strong opening:
- Attention grabber – this can be a statement or a visual cue to get the attention of the audience. You can be a bit dramatic when opening your speech. For example, you can start by giving them a picture of a near-full landfill.
- A link – this is meant to bridge the gap between you and the audience. The link should be something that shows you are one with the crowd. It could be a similar background or an emotional connection. This is achieved by understanding your audience. For instance, if you are speaking to a group of homeowners, you need to emphasize on the need to recycle and how it can benefit the home. Find a shared ideology or interest with your audience.
- Credentials – this is meant to show the audience that you have knowledge and professional skills on the topic. Ensure you emphasize this in your speech opener. For instance, you can say that you have invested numerous hours in the research and study on recycling and also the programs available in your locality. This helps you to gain control of the topic and the respect of your listeners.
- The goal – your opener should let the audience know what it is you seek to achieve with your speech - “I hope by the end of this talk, we will all agree that this city needs a mandatory recycling program.”
- A road map – the last thing you need to tell your audience in your opener is the main points of your speech. Briefly mention them and tell the audience that you hope to achieve your goal for the three points.
Give persuasive evidence
The main body of your speech needs to contain points that were outlined in your opener. It needs to give your audience a reason to support your ideas.
Ensure your points are arranged logically to avoid skipping from one to the next and going back again. Before moving to the next argument, ensure you explore a point fully. The next point should flow naturally from the previous one.
All your citations should be from credible sources and should back the point you are trying to put across. Even when using pathos to make your point, ensure there is factual information to strengthen your argument. Make use of real-life examples that are relatable to your audience. When making an argument based on logos, ensure the audience can relate to your point of view. For instance, “In these hard-economic times, most of us are wary of spending more money on a recycling program. However, the neighboring city started a similar program three years ago, and their revenue has increased as a result of the program. This has caused a decrease in taxes for the residents.”
Addressing the counter-argument
While this is not necessary for a persuasive speech, you can strengthen your argument by using one of your points to address the views of the opposition. This ensures you address any doubts and objections in the minds of your listeners.
Ensure you describe the opposing views objectively and fairly. The quality of your argument should be approved by people holding the opposition view. Saying “people opposing recycling are selfish and do not care about wastage of resource or money” is not a fair and objective description of their opinions. Instead, you can say, “people opposing recycling are concerned that the program will cost more than using new materials.” After this statement, give them reasons why their view is false and show them how recycling is a cost-effective solution.
Call them to action
This is the conclusion of a persuasive speech. It should remind your listeners of what the speech was about. It should also make your intention clear. Instead of restating what you just said, use the conclusion as a chance to reinforce your call to action.
For example - “To sum up, the points highlighted above point to a recycling problem in this city. A city recycling program is the most ethical and sensible solution to creating a sustainable future and protecting the environment. Please join me in voting ‘YES’ for the recycling program this coming week.”
Important tips to remember
- The speech should not be confrontational. You do not need to run a smear campaign on the opposing side because they disagree with your opinion. The idea is to win them over. You can do this by using positive assertions in your speech delivery.
- Simplify the statistics and data to avoid overwhelming your audience with confusing numbers and charts.
- Avoid complicating your speech by sticking to the standard three to four points. A persuasive speech should be short and straight to the point. This is a tried method that has been found to be effective in convincing an audience that is listening and not reading.
It is essential to understand that every step of a persuasive speech writing process is important. By picking the right topic, you will be able to create a well-written speech that will persuade your listeners to join you in your school of thought. By following this guide, you will be able to create a persuasive speech that will not only spark a thought in the minds of your audience but also win them over.