Writing a persuasive speech is much like writing a persuasive essay – the obvious difference being that you have to present it orally to your audience. But just like in writing an essay, you can do a great job if you plan, organize, write and edit, and then practice. Here is a step-by-step process to produce and present a good persuasive speech.
Choose Your Topic
If you have full reign of choosing a topic, you might want to get a little creative. Most everyone will choose highly controversial political or social topics – abortion, drug abuse, addressing socio-economic inequality, legalization of marijuana, etc. You can choose one of these, of course, but you can also choose a topic that is less “heavy.” It will be more unique, and there will not be other speeches to compare yours to. You might want to persuade students to spend less time texting and more time talking face-to-face.
Do Your Research
No piece of persuasion, written or oral, will be effective without facts and data. So, once you have your position identified, use your research to find 3-4 arguments that you can use to persuade. Make note of the facts and statistics you will use in each of those arguments. Be certain that your sources of information and data are credible.
Get Your Outline
You know you’re going to have an introduction, but don’t worry about it yet. The body of your speech will include your 3-4 arguments. You might want to prioritize them with the most persuasive argument first, moving down to the least. Listeners tend to pay more attention at the beginning than later on. And don’t worry about your conclusion just yet either.
Know Thy Audience
If you are speaking to a group of fellow students, you can use a more relaxed style and choose vocabulary that they will relate to. If you are giving that same speech to an older audience or in a more formal setting, then you will need to use a style and vocabulary that is more formal and sophisticated. The best persuasive speeches will always establish a connection with the audience through style and word usage. If you need a good example, view one of candidate Trump’s speeches when he was talking to an audience that was largely blue collar and non-college educated. His style and verbiage matched that of his audience, and he connected.
Write Out Each Argument
You don’t want to make the mistake of jumping back and forth, so follow your outlines, and make each argument a little speech of its own. And use as many examples as you can – just rattling off facts in support of an argument is boring. Real world examples as stories will keep your audience engaged. If you were making an argument in favor of nationalized health care, for example, you might insert personal stories of those with health issues who cannot afford health insurance or their medications.
Whenever you can, create visuals, perhaps in the form of a PowerPoint, that will serve to reinforce your main points or illustrate the examples/stories you are telling. A picture of a child with cancer whose parents can no longer afford the treatments will be powerful indeed.
Practice and Practice Some More
Your speech must seem natural and not rote. The only way to get there is to practice enough that your delivery seems like second nature to you. You will seem far more relaxed in front of your audience if you are confident. And practice brings confidence.
You have to grab attention immediately. Having a shocking statistic or telling an anecdote are two great methods to do this. You want them “hooked” immediately.
Don’t lecture. Summarize your points carefully and simply, and explain that you hope that these arguments have changed their minds or reinforced their prior beliefs.
Part of great speech delivery is your non-verbal behaviors. If you stand like a stick and give your speech, you will lose your audience. Use changes in voice tone to reinforce important points; use arm movements; walk a bit; make eye contact with individuals in the audience. And show enthusiasm for your subject and your opinion.
Learning how to write a persuasive speech is a process. Your first speech will certainly not be your best. It takes practice. And the delivery may require even a bit more practice. You have to write a great speech but you have to do a bit of acting too.