When I was a kid, my older brother tried to convince me that I was an alien and that Mom and Dad would send me back to my own planet if I misbehaved.
Older siblings can be pretty persuasive, and if you’ve ever fallen victim to this persuasion (as I may have done once or twice), you already have a good understanding of what it takes to convince an audience.
How do you translate your experiences of being persuaded into being persuasive in your upcoming persuasive speech?
Here’s what you need to know to write a persuasive speech on just about anything.
The Art of Persuasion
Before you get started on your speech, it’s a smart idea to take the time to review a variety of techniques you can use to persuade your audience.
Thus, before we start the “how to” of how to write a persuasive speech, take a look at these articles:
- Use These Persuasive Techniques to Be More Convincing
- Ethos, Pathos, Logos: Be More Persuasive in Your Next Essay
- One Persuasive Writing Technique You Can’t Write Without
Ready to move on to learning how to write a persuasive speech? Excellent. Let’s start with topic selection.
Step 1: Choose a Topic for Your Persuasive Speech
Choosing the right topic for your persuasive speech is just as important as choosing the right topic for a persuasive essay.
One of the first steps of topic selection is to understand your assignment.
You need to know, for instance, if there are any guidelines (or prohibitions) on topics. For example, can your speech attempt to convince your classmates to buy you lunch, or can you attempt to convince your teacher to not assign any more homework this year?
Once you understand the parameters of your assignment, think about your own interests and whether you can be convincing while speaking about a given topic.
Let’s say your BFF suggests you speak about whether fast food should be served in public high schools. If it doesn’t matter to you what schools serve because you think it all tastes awful, this probably isn’t the best topic for you.
Exhausted your mental resources and can’t think of the perfect topic for your persuasive speech? Here are 137 ideas:
- 49 Persuasive Speech Topics You’ll Actually Want to Talk About
- 33 Persuasive Essay Ideas That Make an Impact
- 40 Persuasive Essay Topics to Get You Started
- 15 Excellent Topics for Persuasive Essays
I’ve decided that my speech (for example purposes in this article) will focus on aliens.
Step 2: Develop a Focus for Your Persuasive Speech
Once you have a topic for your speech, you’ll need to narrow it appropriately.
If you want to write about graffiti, for instance, you can’t just start writing everything you know about the topic. (If you do, you’ll end up with lots of content, and you’ll be able to meet the time requirements—but trust me, you won’t end up with a good persuasive speech.)
Instead of just randomly writing about the topic, develop a persuasive focus.
If you were writing about graffiti, for instance, you could write about why graffiti is actually art rather than vandalism or why graffiti needs to be cleaned up in a specific neighborhood.
In my example, I chose aliens as my broad topic, and I’m going to narrow my topic to the existence of aliens. That is, I hope to persuade my audience to believe that aliens exist. But I could be even more specific and try to persuade my audience that television and movie aliens are based on real aliens already on Earth. (Who’s to say Spock isn’t an actual extraterrestrial on our planet?)
Once you’ve nailed down your focus, It’s time to start developing the nuts and bolts of the speech.
Step 3: Outline the Main Ideas of Your Persuasive Speech
After you’ve narrowed your topic, outline the main ideas.
Don’t forget to check to see what types of sources you can use too. You might be able to cite all websites, but you may be required to cite more scholarly resources, such as books or journals.
Creating the outline
So about that outline.
You can also simply write a few notes to help get your ideas rolling.
For example, I might list the following as my main ideas about the existence of aliens:
- Water is necessary for life, and water is present on a number of planets.
- Astronauts (who are trusted experts) have reported UFOs.
- Scientists have established the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute.
These ideas give me a starting point for each of my main body paragraphs and function much like topic sentences because they give me a direction for each paragraph.
Supporting your claims
Next, I’ll need to fill in the rest of the paragraph with evidence to support my claims.
In my case, I’d need evidence from the experts to help me explain the following:
- where (besides Earth) water is present in the universe, and why this means that aliens could exist;
- which astronauts reported UFOs, what they reported, and why this is credible evidence of the existence of aliens; and
- details about the SETI Institute, its origins, and its purpose, and why the mere fact that the institute exists means that scientists believe there is life beyond Earth.
Be Persuasive and Appeal to Your Audience
As you write your persuasive speech, remember that you’re trying to convince your audience, so you need to think about who makes up your audience and what they believe.
Think about writing a persuasive speech as being like creating an ad campaign.
If you were advertising casual tennis shoes to teens, you’d have to think about what matters to them. Teens want style. While cost can play a factor, for the most part, as long as the shoe is trendy, you’ve appealed to their basic requirement.
Now think about creating an ad campaign for casual tennis shoes for older adults. While style may play a role, older adults are more concerned with cost, durability, and comfort. If you can convince older adults that a tennis shoe is comfortable, you’ve hooked them. Even if your shoe is a little more expensive, they’ll be willing to hand over their hard-earned cash in exchange for some comfy kicks.
See how using the right language and the right type of appeal (such as ethos, pathos, or logos) is necessary in order to convince your audience?
How to appeal to your specific audience
Given the above, it’s important to keep your audience in mind and think about what matters to them as you draft your speech.
For instance, if you’re trying to convince your teacher and classmates, consider how you can appeal to a general audience.
If your teacher has assigned an audience for your speech, you may have to pretend you’re speaking to parents, teens, or members of the school board (and thus consider what types of arguments you’ll use to convince them).
If your teacher allows some flexibility with your speech, you might choose your own audience. For example, if you’re writing about aliens, you could ask the class to pretend they’re aliens and try to convince them to take you to their home planet.
The takeaway: Know your audience. If you know how they think and what they believe, you’ll be able to appeal to them and be more convincing.
Additional Resources to Help You Write a Persuasive Speech
If you have a pretty good sense of what you want to write about and how you’ll put your speech together but are still looking for a little more help, check out these additional resources:
- How to Control the Tone of an Essay
- 20 Ways to Improve Your Academic Writing
- 10 Essay Writing Rules to Throw Out the Window
If you’d like to read an example or two of a persuasive speech before you get to work on your own, check out these speeches from our library:
- A Persuasive Speech on Pitbulls As a Non-Violent Breed of Dog
- A Persuasive Speech on Limiting the Production and Use of Plastic
One final piece of wisdom regarding speeches: Take a few deep breaths, and relax.
We all get nervous speaking in front of people (especially when our grade depends on it), but being prepared before you step foot behind the podium can make the entire process of delivering your speech a little less stressful.
Want to make sure your speech is in tip-top shape before you put yourself out there? Let the editors at Kibin help. While we can’t necessarily help you calm your nerves in front of an audience, we can help you prepare a terrific speech (on just about anything).
Live long and prosper.