Persuasive Speaking

Persuasive Speaking

Persuasive speaking is the type of speaking that most people engage in the most. A persuasive speech is given to influence the values, ideas, beliefs, and attitudes of an audience. This type of speech can involve everything from arguing about politics to talking about what to eat for dinner. You can speak about any aspect of life, be it mundane or monumental.

Persuasive speaking is very connected to the audience, as the speaker must, in a sense, meet the audience halfway. Persuasion, obviously, is not entirely controlled by the speaker—persuasion occurs when an audience assents to what a speaker says. The goal is to connect with the audience, and have an impact on their thoughts. A good persuasive speech is very powerful, and could move call an audience to action, if it is done correctly. Consequently, persuasive speaking requires extra attention to audience analysis.


What You Need to Know:

  • Choosing a Topic
    • Most persuasive speeches concern questions of fact, value, or policy.
      • Fact: Issues of fact are similar to informative speeches in that they review findings. They concern questions about the truth or fallacy of a statement. A persuasive speech makes judgments about which findings are accurate in an argument.
      • Value: Issues of value tackle the time-honored questions of what is good, right, or beautiful. They concern questions about the worth, morality, or righteousness of an idea or action. Values can be either individually, communally, or nationally held, and are thus contentious and often clashing. Values are typically deeply engrained in audeince members, and justification is very important.
      • Policy: Issues of policy concern what actions should be taken to resolve a particular problem. Policy questions posit a problem and a solution. They address whether or not a specific course of action is justified or necessary. Such speeches might lead an audience to passive agreement, where they agree with your argument, but do not take action, or might spark active agreement in which an audience takes action in support of a policy. When speaking on policy, the speaker must be sure to address the need for a change, the plan to solve the problem, and the practicality of the solution.
  • The Importance of Audience
    • Recognize that the audience is constantly processing what the speaker is saying. Nonverbal reactions are common for an audience listening to a persuasive speech—a furrowed brow, nodding head, or rolling eyes can be signals from audience members that they either like or dislike what the speaker is saying. Audience analysis can provide critical feedback on what an audience needs to hear in order to be best convinced by your argument. Acknowledging and reacting to these nonverbal reactions can help a speaker explain more in detail certain points.
    • Identify and focus on your target audience. In almost any persuasive speaking situation, there will be a subset of the audience that agrees, that disagrees, and that are undecided about the topic. Focus on the part of the audience that is undecided on your topic because tailoring to their concerns and thought processes will unlock the most persuasion potential. Don't waste time by convincing the believers and summarizing what they already think or attempting to persuade the fierce opponents who will never change their opinions.
  • Utilizing Ethos, Logos, and Pathos
    • Traditionally, persuasion involves ethos, logos, and pathos. By performing these three elements competently, a speaker can enhance their persuasive power.
      • Ethos: The establishment of credibility through the speaker's personal characteristics. These can include educational level, presentation skills, and articulation.
      • Logos: Appeals to the intelligence of listeners. Know your audience, and the level at which they think and process information. Consider age, profession, and educational level.
      • Pathos: Emotional appeals and awareness of audience values. Inserting emotion into a speech correctly can enhance a speech in invaluable ways.
  • Anticipate Any Objections
    • Be aware of any disagreements the audience might have with your point of view. Many audience members might be skeptical of the viewpoint advanced by a presenter and may hold varying opinions before listening; be aware of them. Consequently, an orator ought to acknowledge and respond to these objections within the speech. This approach might answer some of the questions that audience members might be asking of themselves.
  • Make an Incredible Argument
    • Be aware of the purpose of your speech and the central idea so that you know how to arrange your argument most effectively. Choose your main points and organize them well. Be sure to include solid and substantial evidence for each assertion you make. You have been persuading and convincing people all your life, so knowing the steps to persuasion should come easily!
  • Know the Goals of Your Speech
    • Articulate the goals of the speech and know what you want to accomplish as a result of the speech. Does the speaker want the audience to sign a petition, write their legislator, boycott a product, talk to their friends, buy a certain product, or take some other tangible action? Oftentimes, the conclusion enables a speaker to make a call to action that is the culmination of a persuasive speech.
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