The primary goal of persuasive speaking is to influence an audience’s beliefs or behaviors so that they can make necessary or positive change. Persuasive speaking is a vital skill in all areas of life, whether it is a political candidate convincing voters to elect them, an employee convincing the boss to give them a promotion, or a sales person convincing a consumer to buy a product, individuals must understand what persuasion is and how it functions.
When formulating a persuasive speech, remember to determine the type of question you seek to answer so that you can decide whether to offer a proposition of fact, a proposition of value, or a proposition of policy. Weave the topic and the proposition together to create a compelling argument for your specific audience.
Knowing your audience can help when it comes to choosing the appropriate strategies for convincing them that you are a credible speaker. Once you have established your credibility, you can advance both logical and emotional appeals to move your audience toward the belief or behavior you hope they will adopt. As you weave these appeals together, be sure to offer the most ethical arguments by avoiding fallacies and supporting emotional appeals with relevant evidence.
Once you have compiled the most relevant arguments and emotional appeals for a given audience, take care to organize your message effectively. Give thought to your persuasive goals and determine whether they can be best achieved through the use of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence, a direct method pattern, a causal pattern, or a refutation pattern.
The combination of a confident and credible speaker with the right organization of logical and emotional appeals can go far in swaying an audience.
It’s better to get smart than to get mad. I try not to get so insulted that I will not take advantage of an opportunity to persuade people to change their minds. – John H. Johnson
- Early in the chapter the prevalence of persuasion was discussed. Think of an instance in which you knew you were being persuaded. What were you being persuaded to do? Was the persuader focused on changing your beliefs, attitudes, values, or actions? How do you know?
- Imagine you are giving a persuasive speech on ______________ [you fill in the blank]. Draft a specific purpose statement on this topic for a speech to convince. Next, draft a specific purpose statement on the same topic for a speech to actuate.
- Draft a proposition of fact, proposition of value, and proposition of policy for one or more of the following topics:
- Shortening class time
- Pro-anorexia images on social networking sites
- Airline fees
- You have been invited to speak to administrators about increasing alumni support for the school. What steps will you take to build your ethos for this audience? What logical appeals will you make? How will you appeal to their emotions?
- Identify the following fallacies (adapted from Labossiere, 1995):
- If those actions were not illegal, they would not be prohibited by law.
- Our team had a losing record until we won the last three games. I wore blue socks in the last three games. Blue socks are lucky, and if I keep wearing them, we can’t lose!
- The store Joe works at changed the dress code, requiring him to buy all new work clothes. When he went to the manager to complain, she told him that no one else voiced concern, so he must be the only one who had that problem.
- Your roommate has invited his classmate, Annie, over to work on a project. Before Annie arrives, your roommate explains that she will probably be late because she never helps with the work and always leaves him to take care of everything.(Answers can be found on the bottom of page)
- Imagine you are giving a speech in which you hope to convince audience members to begin retirement planning while they are still in their twenties. Which of the organizational patterns described above best fits this topic? Why? Describe its advantages over the other organization styles for the specific purpose.
- begging the question
- causal fallacy
- bandwagon fallacy
- poisoning the well
- Using a recent newspaper, locate an example of a proposition of fact, a proposition of value, and a proposition of policy, and underline each one. Then, see if you can locate the data, warrant, and backing for each of these claims. If you cannot locate one or more of the elements, write your own based on the information provided in the article.
- Two organizations, Mercy For Animals (MFA) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), sponsor billboard advertisements to advocate that people transition to a vegetarian diet. Examine the billboards from each organization and consider the following:
- What logical claims are advanced by each organization’s billboards?
- Are there any logical fallacies on the billboards?
- What emotional appeals are used on the billboards?
- Are any of the emotional appeals unethical? If so, why?
- Which is the more ethically persuasive campaign? Why?