Types of Persuasive Speeches

Persuasive Speeches on Questions of Fact

Speeches about question of fact (something is true, exists, or does not exist) propose that the speaker’s view is probably true.

Learning Objectives

Explain how to present evidence to prove that a fact is true

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Questions of fact contrast with questions of policy (which state that something should be) and questions of value (which state that something is good, bad, beautiful, or worthwhile).
  • Three basic types of questions of fact are historical controversy, questions of current existence, and predictions.
  • The speaker presents competing evidence in topical order and uses inductive reasoning to draw a conclusion from the evidence. The conclusion asserts that the speaker’s view is most likely true.
  • The speaker has an ethical responsibility to provide reliable, valid evidence to the audience, and to be aware of and avoid bias in the selection of the evidence.

Key Terms

  • evidence: The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

Questions of fact are one focus of persuasive speaking. They propose that something is a fact. Questions of fact (which are also called propositions of fact) basically state that something is, something exists, or something doesn’t exist. Questions of fact contrast with questions of policy, which state that something should be, and questions of value, which state that something is good, bad, beautiful, or worthwhile.

In a persuasive speech, the speaker answers a question by proposing an answer and attempting to convince the audience that the answer is true and that they can believe the speaker. In essence, the speaker wants to audience to accept the his or her view as the cold, hard facts.

A sign that says "Cold, hard facts" with information about the steel industry.

Asking Questions: In a persuasive speech, the speaker will ask and answer questions with facts in order to convince the audience that the facts are true.

The following are three basic types of questions of fact:

  • Historical controversy: Knowledge that an event did happen in the past or that an object actually did exist.
  • Questions of current existence: Knowledge that something is happening now in the present (such as global warming).
  • Predictions: Forecasting what will happen in the future. Based on past events, the speaker identifies a pattern and attempts to convince the audience that the event will happen again. For example, if someone observes that gasoline prices drop right before national elections, he or she could attempt to convince others that they will drop again before the next election.

Creating a Persuasive Speech on Questions of Fact

When creating a persuasive speech based around questions of fact, consider the following:

Thesis: When developing a persuasive speech, begin with a thesis that states that something is true, meaning that it happened or did not happen. exists or does not exist.

Organization and Evidence: In general, the evidence should be presented in topical order. It is important to consider the evidence carefully. The speaker must ask if it is possible that the observations actually occurred or could have occurred. Are the source of the evidence reliable, and were they in a position to actually observe what they reported? Is there reason to believe that a source may be biased, either personally or by the thinking prevalent at the time in history?

Reasoning: The speaker will usually be dealing with inductive reasoning, in which he or she asks the audience to agree with a conclusion after presenting all of the evidence. The speaker proves the position by presenting compelling evidence to support the thesis.

Ethics: As a speaker you have an ethical responsibility to provide reliable, valid evidence to the audience and be aware of and avoid your own bias in the selection of the evidence which you use.

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Loch Ness Monster: The existence of the Loch Ness Monster is a question of fact.

Persuasive Speeches on Questions of Value

In persuasive speeches on questions of value, we argue something is right or wrong, moral or immoral, or better or worse than another thing.

Learning Objectives

Define a persuasive speech of value

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Persuasive speeches on questions of value imply certain actions, but they are not a call to action.
  • Persuasive speeches of value depend on a judgement that something is right or wrong, moral or immoral, or better or worse than another thing.
  • The speech should include an appeal, criteria for judgement, and facts that support the appeal using the judgement criteria.

Key Terms

  • policy: A principle of behavior, conduct, etc., thought to be desirable or necessary, especially as formally expressed by a government or other authoritative body.

Introduction

There are three types of persuasive speeches:

  • Persuasive speeches of fact
  • Persuasive speeches of value
  • Persuasive speeches of policy

In this unit, our focus will be on persuasive speeches of value. Here is where we argue something is right or wrong, moral or immoral, or better or worse than another thing. The appeals are made on value judgements.

Examples include speeches that attempt to persuade the audience that it is wrong to drive over the speed limit, that Pepsi is better than Coke, that it is better to live together before marriage, that swimming is the best form of exercise, or that bikes are the best form of transportation to get around town.

Persuasive speeches on questions of value imply certain actions, but they are not a call to action.

Questions to Ask Yourself

When analyzing any type of persuasive speech, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the speaker’s goal?
  • What are the main points?
  • How does the structure of the speech help the speaker to make the argument?
  • How does the speaker try to make you care?
  • How does the speaker use evidence ?
  • What kinds of sources does the speaker use?

Creating a Persuasive Speech on Questions of Value

How should you go about creating such a speech?

  • Introduce appeals, information, and criteria.
  • Provide evidence that makes your audience arrive at your conclusion. (Your claims should agree with the current beliefs and feeling of your audience. )
  • Use facts to justify your claims.
  • Consider your audience’s feeling and values.
A photograph of a Pepsi bottle and a Coke bottle

Pepsi vs. CokeĀ : Persuading the audience that Pepsi is better than Coke is a question of value speech, as it hinges on a value judgement.

Persuasive Speeches on Questions of Policy

Persuasive speeches about questions of policy advocate for or against the status quo.

Learning Objectives

Demonstrate how to structure a persuasive speech on a question of policy

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • There are four basic organizational patterns for question of policy: problem-solution, problem-solution with cause, comparative advantage of solutions, and Monroe’s motivated sequence.
  • Problem-solution considers the need (or the problem to be solved), the plan (or the solution to the problem), and the practicality (how well the solution will work).
  • Problem-solution with causes considers the nature and extent of the problem and the direct relationship between the problem and its causes, and uses the causes as criteria to evaluate potential solutions.
  • Comparative advantages of solutions summarizes the problem briefly, compare different solutions to find the one that solves the most aspects of the problem, and ask the audience to accept and implement the most advantageous solution.
  • Monroe’s motivated sequence is Attention, Need, Satisfaction, Visualization, and Action.

Key Terms

  • status quo: The state of things; the way things are, as opposed to the way they could be.
  • Monroe’s Motivated Sequence: A method of persuasion developed by Alan H. Monroe, based on establishing a psychological need for action in the audience and demonstrating how to satisfy the need by taking action.
  • policy: A principle of behavior, conduct, etc., thought to be desirable or necessary, especially as formally expressed by a government or other authoritative body.

Questions of Policy

One focus of persuasive speaking is questions of policy, which advocates a change from the status quo, or the way things are today. There is a “should”, or at least an implied “should”, in the thesis statement. The speaker wants the plan proposed by the speech to become policy. Questions of policy contrast with questions of fact, which state than something is, exists or does not exist, and questions of value, which state that something is good, bad, beautiful, or perhaps worthwhile.

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Rubik’s Cube: Organizing a persuasive speech is like solving a puzzle, all of the speaker’s points must be aligned correctly.

The following sections describe some different ways to organize persuasive speeches around questions of policy.

Problem-Solution

One way to organize a persuasive speech on a question of policy focuses on defining a problem and a solution by covering three basic points:

  • The Need: Convince the audience that there is a problem that must be addressed or a need for change. It is essential to get the audience to believe that a problem exists so they will implement a plan for a solution.
  • The Plan: Convince the audience that it is not good enough to just sit around and complain. Tell them what actions they must take. Be sure to address any aspects of the solution that might make the audience less willing to act.
  • The Practicality: Show the audience that the plan can succeed. Address the implications, cite expert testimony, and reference the successful implementation of similar plans in other places.

Problem-Solution with Cause

A common variation on the problem-solution organization includes consideration of the causes. Discussing the causes of the problem directs attention to specific points that the solution must address. The basic points of this organization are:

  • The Problem: Describe the nature and extent of the problem. Specifically, describe that the problem exists and how important or big the problem is.
  • The Causes: Consider the direct relationship between the problem and its causes. Think about the problem as an “effect,” and consider the causes that produced the effect. Show a direct relationship between the problem and causes, not just a correlation where one thing occurred before, after, or at the same time as another.
  • The Solution: Use the causes as criteria to evaluate the solutions. If the speech says that the problem was caused by x, y and z, then the solution or new policy needs to address x, y, and z in order to solve the problem.

Comparative Advantages of Solutions

When the audience is already aware of and accepts that there is a problem, the speech can focus primarily on comparing the advantages of one solution over another, as follows:

  • Summarize the Problem Briefly: Do not focus on convincing the audience to believe that there is a problem that needs to be solved.
  • Compare Different Solutions: Discuss different solutions, and find the one that solves the most aspects of the problem. Compare one solution with others to select and propose the best to the audience.
  • Final Appeal: Ask the audience to accept and implement that solution as the policy.

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence

Another powerful method of structuring a persuasive message is by using a motivated sequence. The organizational plan developed by Alan Monroe focuses on developing a psychological need in the audience and then illustrating how to satisfy that need by supporting the plan or policy advocated in the speech, as follows:

  • Attention: Get the audience’s attention using a detailed story, shocking example, dramatic statistic, or quotations.
  • Need: Show how the topic applies to the psychological need of the audience members. The premise is that action is motivated by audience needs. Go beyond establishing that there is a significant problem; show that the need will not go away by itself. Convince the audience members that they each have a personal need to take action.
  • Satisfaction: Solve the issue. Provide specific and viable solutions that the government or community can implement.
  • Visualization: Tell the audience what will happen if the solution is or is not implemented. Be visual and detailed. Paint a picture for the audience of what they will experience and what the world will look like when the need is satisfied through the speech’s plan.
  • Action: Tell the audience members what specific action they can take to solve the problem and change existing policy.

The advantage of Monroe’s motivated sequence is that it emphasizes what the audience can do. Too often, the audience feels like a situation is hopeless; Monroe’s motivated sequence emphasizes the actions the audience can take.