Good Persuasive Speeches

Guide to the Key Elements of Persuasion

Keys to a Persuasive Speech
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Good persuasive speeches rely on three critical elements. On this page, I'll take a look at these keys and show just how to deliver a presentation that will sway your listener's point of view.

Key #1 - Be Sincere and Honor Your Audience

Your ability to deliver good persuasive speeches with sincerity and conviction will, in part, determine how persuaded your audience will be. After all, if YOU don't believe what you are talking about, why should your audience?

When preparing a persuasive speech, first choose an ethical speech goal. A legitimate view is one that truly embodies your beliefs and honors the choice of your audience.

For example, you may consider it humorous to try to persuade the audience that they should cheat on their schoolwork.  But, making a valid case for cheating would be difficult because it is an unethical goal.

Similarly, presenting a speech in which you pass a negative judgment on those who do not embrace your beliefs is unethical because it does not honor audience choice.


Key #2 - Be Clear and Provide Relevant Reasons

A second element of preparing good persuasive speeches is to be clear about your purpose. You should provide reasons for your audience to agree with you or take the action you suggest. The support you provide must be relevant to the mission and meaningful to your audience.

For example, imagine you are giving a speech persuading the audience to include fruit as a regular part of their diet. Telling the audience to eat fruit because it grows on trees is not sufficient because it is not relevant to the purpose of the speech. Telling the audience that they should eat fruit because ants do is also ineffective because it is not meaningful to the audience.

Stressing the health benefits of eating fruit (improved fitness, better weight management) or the cosmetic benefits (shiny hair, clearer skin) WOULD resonate with your audience. You should consider that only one benefit may resonate. The point is that persuasion depends on the listener more than the speaker. It's essential to KNOW your audience.


Key #3 - Understand Your Audience to Persuade

Determining what is meaningful to your audience is a vital aspect of preparing good persuasive speeches. You can use audience analysis to learn about attendees.

Determine your audience's age, gender, cultural background, educational level, level of interest in your topic and, for a persuasive speech, their current position regarding the issue about which you are attempting to persuade them.

Here's an example of how this helps you in terms of providing reasons that are meaningful to your audience.

First, imagine giving a speech about proper dental hygiene to preschoolers. Saying that brushing their teeth every day will make their parents happy would be a reason that is relevant to them.

Pleasing parents would not be a particularly meaningful and compelling reason for persuading college students. For college students, suggesting that good dental hygiene makes them attractive to the opposite sex would, perhaps, be more meaningful!

Knowing your audience's current position on your topic helps you construct good persuasive speeches.

If you feel your audience already shares your point of view -

Then the purpose of your address can be to motivate them. Speakers may move an audience member to take a particular action by:

  • Reinforcing the area of agreement
  • Building enthusiasm for what the results of their participation would create
  • Providing a straightforward call to action

If your audience is undecided about your point of view -

Then, it is crucial to develop the informational aspect of your persuasive speech. Giving your audience plenty of background and reliable, evidence-based, reasons to agree with you builds trust.

If you are speaking to an audience that is hostile to your point of view -

Do not attack your audience's current beliefs as your first approach. Instead, develop some common ground that can be a starting point for further conversation.


Summary of Steps to a Good Persuasive Speech:

Delivering good persuasive speeches involves:

  • Selecting an ethical speech goal
  • Providing reasons relevant to your purpose and with meaning to your audience
  • Choosing an approach based on your audience's current position.

6 Sample Persuasive Speeches to Inspire You

Getting Civil (a good persuasive speech about same-sex union)

Benefits of Having School Uniforms

Gender Selection

Energy Medicine

Luck is Not a Matter of Chance (a motivational persuasive speech)

Persuasive Speech Example - Second Hand Smoke

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