Introduction to Persuasive Speaking

Persuasive speaking can be contrasted with informative speaking.
The two appear on a continuum.

Informative ---------------------- Persuasive

There are several points of contrast.

  • Persuasive speaking urges us to choose from among options: informative speaking reveals and clarifies options.
  • Persuasive speaking asks the audience for more commitment than does informative speaking.
  • The ethical obligations for persuasive speakers are even greater than for informative speakers.
  • The Persuasive speaker is a leader; the informative speaker is a teacher.
  • Persuasive speaking more often involves emotional appeals that are out of place in speeches to inform.

One focus of persuasion is the question of fact.
This refers to something that we can know to be either true or false, but right now we can argue about it. Examples include historical controversy, predictions, or questions of existence. Examples: "To persuade my audience that the Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl." "To persuade my audience that stocks will continue to rise." "To persuade my audience that Oswald acted alone when assassinating President Kennedy." "To persuade my audience that T.V. violence causes real world violence."

Another focus of persuasion are the questions of value.
Here is where we argue something is right or wrong, moral or immoral, or better or worse than another thing. Examples include: "To persuade my audience that it is wrong to drive over the speed limit." "To persuade my audience that Pepsi is better than Coke." "To persuade my audience that it is better to live together before marriage."

Questions to ask as you read or view a sample persuasive speech

  • What is the speaker's goal?
  • What are the main points?
  • How does the structure of the speech help the speaker to make the argument?
  • How does the speaker try to make you care?
  • How does the speaker use evidence?
  • What kinds of sources does the speaker use?

Basic Persuasive Outline:

In the Introduction
A scenario of a heart attack

I. We have a problem with heart disease and heart failure in America.
A. Every year thousands of Americans die from heart attacks.
B. Only a small part of the population knows how to save someone who is suffering from a heart attack.

II. If more people were trained in CPR more lives could be saved.
A. You can get trained in CPR by attending a Red Cross class.
B. You can get trained in CPR here on campus.

III. Once you are trained in CPR, you can save a life.
A. Let's look again at the opening scenario.
B. Statistics show that communities that have a large percentage of the population CPR certified have lower rates of death from heart attacks.

In the conclusion
Call to the audience to get trained in CPR