Six Tips for Writing Successful Persuasive Speeches

Whether you are a student trying to put together a persuasive speech or a teenager trying to convince your parents to let you borrow the car, you should find the following tips helpful when persuading others.

Keep your goal in mind.

You are trying to persuade the audience to do or believe something. Do not fall into one (or both!) of the following traps:

  • Do not merely inform us about something. Do not spend a lot of time telling us the history of a particular dispute if it does not help achieve your goal.
  • Do not just complain about something. If it is that bad, then persuade us to do something about it.

Pay attention to who your audience is.

Do your audience analysis! Use the material and the format that is most likely to persuade them. For example, if you are talking about a problem that your audience knows very little about, then you might want to use the problem-solution format or Monroe’s Motivated Sequence. On the other hand, if you are talking about a subject that this audience has already built up arguments against, then you might want to use the refutational pattern.  Students often like to give persuasive speeches about legalizing marijuana. When you search for articles on this topic, often material from High Times magazine is likely to pop up. While it can be tempting to use the research reported from this source, it is unlikely to help you achieve your goal because people who are not already inclined to legalize marijuana will not consider High Times magazine a credible source.

Put emphasis on your audience.

Remember, your objective is not to get through your speech.  Your objective is to persuade your audience. Therefore, you need to make your audience feel as if you care about their opinions and their needs. Talk to your audience, not at your audience. Give them lots of direct, extended eye contact. Give the audience the impression that you are their friend.

Build credibility in your introduction.

Building credibility early in your speech will establish your presence for you all the way through your speech.

Use lots of examples.

They can help you in three ways.

  • They serve as logos, logical appeal. They help prove your point. Instead of saying “Hey, it could happen,” you are able to say “This is a particular instance where this situation did occur.”
  • Usually they serve as pathos, emotional appeal, as well. Examples often have an emotional edge to them.
  • They are much more interesting to listen to than strict opinion or a long list of facts.

Practice, practice, practice!

Are you passionate about public speaking or communications? UMHB’s Department of Communication and Media Studies seeks to produce graduates who can think critically, reason morally, write and speak with precision and impact, and present performances in a variety of media to audiences of all types. We invite you to visit our website for more info, or stop by for a visit!
Kathy Owens

Kathy Owens

Kathy Owens is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX. She also serves as UMHB’s Director of Forensics, coaching their competitive speech team.
Kathy Owens
Kathy Owens

About Kathy Owens

Kathy Owens is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX. She also serves as UMHB’s Director of Forensics, coaching their competitive speech team.