Monroe’s Motivated Sequence

Learning Objectives

  • Explain the use of Monroe’s motivated sequence to motivate listeners.

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence

Monroe’s motivated sequence is the best-known organizational pattern focused on motivational appeals. It is especially useful in situations where the speaker is proposing a solution to an existing problem.

If you use Monroe’s motivated sequence, you’re asking your audience to visualize the consequences of what will happen if they are persuaded to engage in the action you are arguing for. Health-related appeals often use this strategy: for example, smoking, seat belts, mask-wearing in a pandemic, etc.

Alan H. Monroe was a Purdue University psychology professor who used what he knew about the psychology of persuasion to write a book called “Monroe’s Principles of Speech.” He outlines a speech organizational pattern which is most effective in speeches of persuasion. It involves five key steps for which to order the speech.

    1. Get attention. This involves calling the audience’s attention to a problem. It may occur in the introduction part of the speech or as the first point in the body of the speech. For example, according to the New England Medical Journal in their 2018 June article, four out of five people do not get more than five quality hours of sleep per night.
    2. Establish the need. Show that there is a problem or a need for something to be done. Use statistics, evidence, etc., to prove the need. This establishment may occur in the introduction or the body of the speech. For example, lack of sleep depletes productivity.
    3. Satisfy the need. Offer a solution to the issue and explain how the solution would work. This usually is in the body of the speech as a main point. Take a sleep workshop.
    4. Visualize the future. Paint a picture of what the world would be like if the need is satisfied using your proposed solution. For example, how productive the world would be on seven hours of sleep per night? The visualization could be in the body or conclusion.
    5. Action/Actualization. Call the audience to take action and commit to doing something such as signing a pledge to get better sleep, going to a sleep workshop, etc. The call for action is usually in the conclusion.


In this video, Eric Robertson breaks down the components of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence.

You can view the transcript for “Monroe’s Motivated Sequence | COMMUNICATION STUDIES” here (opens in new window).

To watch: Ron Finley, “A guerilla gardener in South Central LA”

In this TED talk, fashion designer and urban gardener Ron Finley talks about creating gardens in a South Central food desert.

You can view the transcript for “A guerilla gardener in South Central LA | Ron Finley” here (opens in new window).

What to watch for:

Finley’s speech is a good example of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence. Here’s how it fits into the five steps:

Attention: “I live in South Central. This is South Central: liquor stores, fast food, vacant lots.”

Need: “Just like 26.5 million other Americans, I live in a food desert, South Central Los Angeles, home of the drive-thru and the drive-by. Funny thing is, the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.”

Satisfaction: “So me and my group, L.A. Green Grounds, we got together and we started planting my food forest, fruit trees, you know, the whole nine, vegetables. . . . I have witnessed my garden become a tool for the education, a tool for the transformation of my neighborhood. To change the community, you have to change the composition of the soil. We are the soil.”

Visualization: “Now this is one of my plans. This is what I want to do. I want to plant a whole block of gardens where people can share in the food in the same block. I want to take shipping containers and turn them into healthy cafes.”

Action: “If you want to meet with me, come to the garden with your shovel so we can plant some sh*t.”