Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Persuasive Speeches - How To Structure A Persuasive Speech

Almost every influential person in society can speak persuasively. These leaders have the ability to get other people to act on their ideas. Lawyers, politicians, salespeople are all trained in the power of persuasion.

The purpose of a persuasive speech is to impact the thought or action of the audience. You either will be trying to convince the audience to change their viewpoints to be in line with your viewpoint or you'll be calling them to action.
You first explain your ideas. At the end of your presentation you will ask the audience to take a course of action. This may include buying a product, adopting a new diet, or voting for you.

The preparation of a persuasive speech like any other speech depends on the audience. Clearly, a speech for a hostile audience would be different than a speech prepared for an audience that generally agrees with your viewpoint.

More often than not, your listeners will not particularly care about your viewpoint. It is your duty to first grab their attention and to present your credibility in order to make the audience care about your viewpoint. If your audience does not know anything about your product or your political platform, it is impossible for them to care about it. Thus, you have to educate the audience before you convince them. Speakers almost always forget this step.
Your audience will already have their own biases, opinions and beliefs. You have to think of them as though they are all stubborn old men stuck in their ways. In order for you to influence their behavior and thoughts you are going to have to appeal to both their logic and their motion. You cannot tell someone what to think. If you try to impose your opinion by saying I am now going to prove this you will merely arouse stubbornness. You are better off stressing what you know the audience believes in first and then pose a question. You will then present evidence. Your goal is to have the audience form their own conclusions. It is similar to the modern sales approach. You always look for affirmative answers. For example, you would try and get six affirmations before you launch into the pitch.

To persuade an audience you will need to rely on evidence. You will have to research the facts, statistics and outside expert opinion that supports your viewpoint. It is rare that you will have the credibility to make statements without any reference to outside sources. Listeners want credibility. Unless they trust that the information is reputable, they will not change their minds.
You may be tempted to focus your speech to win over their logical minds. However, you must win over the audience's hearts and emotions as well. Facts and statistics are not enough. The two most powerful emotions are fear and greed. Now, more than ever, members of the audience are self-interested meaning that you need to appeal to their emotion. What is important to them? What do they fear? Job loss? Retirement savings? Poor health care? What do they desire either secretly or openly? To be rich? Fame? Recognition from their peers? It is your job to craft the speech that appeals to the self-interest of the audience.

As with any speech, you must first grab the audience's attention. In a persuasive speech, you'll often state a problem in the opening of your speech. For example, you might say predatory mortgages have ruined our neighborhood as vacant homes are being looted.

You must then relate the problem to the audience. Why is it important to the audience? Does the audience live in the neighborhood? Do they pay property taxes? Are their home prices being affected by the foreclosure crisis?
After you have explained the problem you then want to propose a solution. You will need to rely on facts, statistics and other supporting material from credible sources as part of your proposal. You can then use the two possible worlds approach. You describe two opposite worlds to compare and contrast two solutions. The first world is one where your proposal is rejected. You talk about how property prices in the neighborhood would fall. You could talk about how the foreclosed houses would not be maintained, the distracting blight as you drive by on the way to work in the morning. You could talk about how your taxes would have to increase to support the lost revenue from vacant homes.
You then want to talk about how the neighborhood will look if your solution is adopted. You would mention the increased safety because owners are more likely to look out for their neighbors' property. You would describe how the full tax base could enable further investments into local schools.

Finally, you have to urge your listeners to take a course of action. In the previous example, the course of action might be to vote for the passage of a new mortgage relief bill. Your audience now understands the problem, has been able to visualize the benefit of your solution and now clearly understands the course of action that you want them to take. You have appealed to their logic by way of supporting evidence and you have appealed to their emotion by showing how this problem is affecting their wealth, their safety and the enjoyment of their real estate.

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