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How to Write a Persuasive Speech

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The purpose of a persuasive speech is to convince your audience to agree with an idea or opinion that you put forth. First you'll need to select a side on a controversial or argumentative topic, then you will write a speech to explain your side-and convince the audience to agree with you.

You can produce an effective persuasive speech if you structure your argument as a solution to a problem. Your first job as a speaker is to convince your audience that a particular problem is important to them, and then you must convince them that that you have the solution to make things better.

Note: You don't have to address a real problem. Any need can work as the problem. For example, you could consider the lack of a pet, the need to wash one's hands, or the need to pick a particular sport to play as the "problem."

As a learning example, let's imagine that you have chosen "Getting Up Early" as your persuasion topic. Your goal will be to persuade classmates to get themselves out of bed an hour earlier every morning. In this instance, the problem could be summed up as "morning chaos."

A standard speech format has an introduction with a great hook statement, three main points, and a summary. Your persuasive speech will be a tailored version of this format.

Before you write the text of your speech, you should sketch an outline that includes your hook statement and three main points.

Writing the Text

The introduction of your speech must be well written, because your audience will make up their minds within a few minutes - they will decide to be interested or to be bored.

Before you write the full body you should come up with a greeting. Your greeting can be as simple as "Good morning everyone. My name is Frank."

After your greeting, you will offer a hook to capture attention. A hook sentence for the "morning chaos" speech could be a question:

  • How many times have you been late to school?
  • Does your day begin with shouts and arguments?
  • Have you ever missed the bus?

Or your hook could be a statistic or interesting statement:

  • More than fifty percent of high school students skip breakfast because they just don't have time to eat.
  • Tardy kids drop out of school more often than punctual kids.

Once you have the attention of your audience, you follow through to define the topic/problem and introduce your solution. Here's an example of what you would have so far:

Good afternoon, class. Some of you know me, but some of you may not. My name is Frank Godfrey, and I have a question for you. Does your day begin with shouts and arguments? Do you go to school in a bad mood because you've been yelled at, or because you argue with your parent? The chaos you experience in the morning can put you in a bad mood and affect your performance at school.

Add the solution:

You can improve your mood and your school performance by adding more time to your morning schedule. You do this by setting your alarm clock to go off one hour earlier.

Your next task will be to write the body, which will contain the three main points you've come up with to argue your position. Each point will be followed by supporting evidence or anecdotes, and each body paragraph will need to end with a transition statement that leads to the next segment. Sample of three main statements:
  • Bad moods caused by morning chaos will affect your workday performance.
  • If you skip breakfast to buy time you're making a harmful health decision.
  • (Ending on a cheerful note) You'll enjoy a boost to your self-esteem when you reduce the morning chaos.

After you write three body paragraphs with strong transition statements that make your speech flow, you are ready to work on your summary.

Your summary will re-emphasize your argument and restate your points in slightly different language. This can be a little tricky. You don't want to sound repetitive, but you do need to repeat! Just find a way to reword the same main points.

Finally, you must make sure to write a clear final sentence or passage to keep yourself from stammering at the end or fading off in a awkward moment. A few examples of graceful exits:

  • We all like to sleep. I know it's hard to get up some mornings, but I can assure you that the reward is well worth the effort.
  • If you follow my guidelines and make the effort to get up a little bit earlier every day, you reap rewards in your home and on your report card.

    Tips for Writing Your Speech

    1. Don't be confrontational in your argument. You don't need to put down the other side; just convince your audience that your side is right with positive assertions.

    2. Use simple statistics. Don't overwhelm your audience with confusing numbers.

    3. Don't complicate your speech by going outside the standard "three points" format. While it might seem simplistic or contrived, it is a tried and true format for an audience who is hearing-as opposed to reading. It won't sound contrived to listeners.

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