A persuasive speech is a speech intended to convince or persuade people to believe a particular point of view. This is the common definition. This definition is not complete.
Most speeches intend to make people believe a particular point of view. But they are not necessarily persuasive speeches.
Persuasive speeches do more than advertise a product. These speeches are more than educating people that one product is cheaper or better than others.
Leaders who can deliver effective persuasive speeches can make a big difference in the lives of people. Find out how you can craft and deliver inspiring solutions to people’s problems.
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What is a persuasive speech?
A persuasive speech is a special speech delivered to move people to a specific action. It is crafted to create a series of yeses. A persuasive speech addresses the audience’s painful problems using powerful stories and makes emotional connections to compel people to take action.
People who want to lead or sell something will benefit from learning how to craft and deliver persuasive speeches.
Effective persuasive speeches make people buy even before you sell. A speaker who delivers persuasive speeches finds ways to help audiences solve painful problems and let them see new opportunities.
Many speakers choose to be entertaining and funny because they believe that persuasion is difficult. They do not know that persuasive speeches can be entertaining, educational, funny, and engaging.
There are easy and proven ways you can use when you prepare and deliver persuasive speeches to anyone anywhere.
In this guide, I will share with you insights on persuasive speaking. You will learn how to prepare, rehearse, and deliver speeches that move people to do what’s best for them.
Purposes of Persuasive Speeches
The ultimate purpose of a persuasive speech is to encourage the audience to “buy a solution and take action”.
A speech can have many purposes. Perhaps, it can educate, instruct, and indoctrinate. It can equip, encourage, and entertain.
A persuasive speech can be delivered for all of these purposes, but if the audience won’t take action, then the speech is not persuasive.
Let’s say that you are a speaker. You have an idea you believe will help your audience get what they dream about or erase what they hate most.
But your listeners do not know this idea (or solution). Or if they are aware of your idea, they are hesitant to use it. What would you do?
You will craft a persuasive speech and deliver it to
- convince your audience there is a big problem,
- the problem is not good for them,
- the problem is getting worst,
- there is a better alternative,
- it has many benefits,
- there are easy and proven ways to make a change,
- the audience is capable of change, and
- they only need to take the first step.
Am I making sense to you? You are not just informing your audience. You are not just entertaining them. You are not just convincing them.
You are PERSUADING them. That means you want to touch your audience’s emotions so that they will buy the solution and act on it.
To persuade is to sell. You offer a new reality, and you want people to start living in that reality. You are inspiring them to change their stories.
Persuasive speeches are not like a debate where you attempt to convince your audience that your truth has more weight than your opponent’s truth. A debate is a win-lose scenario or, sometimes, a lose-lose one.
As a persuasive speaker, you will show your audience that there is an easier, better, and faster way to win.
As a speaker, you will succeed if you focus on results and value
The purpose of a persuasive speech is to show your audience that they can get the life they want, that you know the solution, that the benefits outweigh the risk, and that they can have it now.
Kinds of Persuasive Speeches
People from various professions deliver persuasive speeches. The most common examples of persuasive speeches are sermons, motivational speeches, inspirational speeches, sales pitches, and campaign speeches.
A persuasive speech aims to inspire, influence, motivate, and compel audiences to act on problems or issues so they can ease their pain or create a new reality.
Persuasive speeches are crafted so that the audience gets a clear understanding of their problems, considers alternative solutions, picks the best solution, and makes the all-important first step.
Motivational speeches intend to encourage audiences to start acting on their dreams. Motivational speakers use personal stories of struggles and failures to connect with audiences. They want to show that no matter how big obstacles are, we can turn them into stepping stones. They want you to do something about goals, aspirations, and dreams. If you want to become a motivational speaker, I have excellent articles for you.
Inspirational speeches are persuasive speeches too. The speaker in inspirational speeches intends to show the value of going to your personal goals and ambitions.
You show your listeners, for example, that creating and adding value to the life of your community is excellent.
One who talks about the value of donating money for the sake of hungry children is inspired to be of service to others.
A sermon is a religious discourse delivered by a church leader. The topic can be theological or moral. A sermon is a persuasive speech where the speaker intends to show what is right and wrong — and the lifelong value of staying in the good.
Like motivational speeches, the preacher may use stories and anecdotes to drive the point. Many preachers, however, stick to quoting the scriptures. Many mega-churches have preachers celebrated for their ability to deliver persuasive sermons.
A campaign speech contains the core message of a candidate. The speech highlights present problems and how it affects the people, the best solutions available, and why the candidate is the best person to deliver the solution.
In the Philippines, those who campaign for national positions seldom deliver campaign speeches. One president, for example, won by avoiding debates and instead using influencers who made promises they cannot deliver.
Even the admirable Chel Diokno did not use campaign speeches. On the other hand, Robin Padilla advanced the cause of Federalism during his campaign.
Politicians campaigning for office often deliver persuasive speeches. They intend to show prospective voters the future possibilities for them. They talk about what is right and wrong, what is important and what is not, and what new policies they intend to push and implement.
No wonder, most politicians sound like motivational speakers, inspirational speakers, and preachers.
Of course, many politicians choose to entertain than persuade. That’s because many voters have already decided to vote for them no matter what they say.
The charismatic Rodrigo Duterte did that in 2016. He did not persuade people; he only made jokes that his followers thought were promises.
But if you intend to become a good politician, study how to deliver inspiring campaign speeches.
Selling is a persuasive speech that typically follows Monroe’s Motivated Sequence. It may appear to many that salespeople are born that way.
In truth, many of the good ones are following a formula for persuading people to buy. The formula, unfortunately, is so good that scammers used it too to persuade people to give their money (for nothing).
You’ve likely been delivering persuasive speeches too.
You deliver persuasive speeches whenever you want someone to act on something you want them to do for you, for themselves, or for others. You just don’t have a name for it.
Elements of a Persuasive Speech
Here are quick ideas on how you can make persuasive speech work. If you are a motivational speaker, you will have great uses for these ideas.
You can add this to the 24 proven ways to become a successful motivational speaker.
Present the problem before the solutions.
A persuasive speech sets out the problem first, then the solution. Do this to indicate that you have listened. You are not starting a conversation but joining conversations already existing in the heads of your audience.
You begin with what’s most familiar to them: their problems.
Your solution is unknown to them. People resist listening if they don’t know what you are talking about. But if you talk about the familiar, the problems they face, you will get their attention.
Show that they have urgent needs, and there are solutions to these needs. And you are going to share with them the best solution if they care to listen.
Choose a solid structure.
Audiences want speeches that have a clear, simple, logical structure. A solid speech structure helps the audience see the parts of our presentation. The most effective persuasive speeches follow a problem-solution-benefit-action pattern. This structure brings your audience on a journey. They can see their transformation.
There are also other patterns we can use. Cause and effect. Definition. Classification. Inductive. Deductive. Comparative advantage. Elimination. You can study each approach and find out how each can help you deliver persuasive speeches.
Identify the best solutions.
Many professional speakers have ready-made “solutions” that they sell to clients.
Think of these speeches as products that will benefit humanity.
To deliver a persuasive speech, find out which is the most painful problem of the audience your content can solve. If you cannot find a painful problem, don’t bother to speak.
Or do something else more practical.
Listen to your audience tell you their stories. Identify the problems they are facing. Gather facts. Find the best solution. Present it to them. Let them decide. Goad them to make small steps.
Okay. That last paragraph contains the steps for delivering persuasive speeches. Write them down. It works for me. It will probably work for you.
Let us know, like, and trust you. Make us believe that you understand where we are and you care about the future we want to create.
When you deliver a speech, your audience permits you to make them trust you. Sometimes, what you want your audience to do requires enormous risks. You cannot make them even the most minor step if they don’t trust you. You build trust by showing them your beliefs and values.
Persuasive speeches work when your audience trusts you. You can build trust by helping your audience solve their problems right there in the room.
Imagine that your audience has a checklist of problems, big and small.
Begin by helping them solve their small problems to gain their trust. Solve one, and they’ll be willing to give you more time.
Continue doing that until they start asking, “how can I get started?”.
Move from why to how.
A persuasive speaker takes the audience on a journey from why to how. You ought to tell people why they have to listen to you. Tell them why spending 20 minutes with you is worth it.
Unless they expect you to be the greatest entertainer, your audience won’t stay unless they know why.
In persuasive speeches, you do this when you tell them their stories, frame the problem for them, and help their thirst for change.
Then you move them to how. You will show solutions, the benefits of solutions, and make them do small steps (while in the room). The real success of a speech that persuades is when your audience no longer asks the whys but wants to know how to get started with the hows.
Make the audience decide.
This advice is counter-intuitive, I know. We speak to move people to action. We design our speeches so that they’ll move people from A to B, from Why to How. Some of us might think that we know what’s best for our audience.
But our audience needs to own their action.
Respect their decision-making process.
Persuasive speaking is not coercive. You make your audience decide.
The best that you can do, while speaking, is to guide in the decision-making process.
Do you really want to move people to action? Do you want your speeches to resonate with your audience? You can be a high-impact persuasive speaker, but you have to do things differently.
Most speakers do not prepare for presentations. The closest they get to “preparation” is designing awesome presentation slides.
In truth, I rarely see excellent presentation slides. But that’s how it was before the pandemic.
During the pandemic, I attended many webinars where speakers are winging their presentations.
You won’t do that.
You believe that your audience deserves the best from you.
I recommend you consider these public speaking tips.
If you will not prepare, your speech is not that important. Don’t present an unimportant speech.
Here are six steps to help you prepare persuasive speeches.
Serve your audience.
Master presenters say that you have to know your audience so you can help them solve their problems. Define the persona or avatar of your audience so you will understand them.
You can use the empathy map to appreciate the world they live in and feel their fears and desires.
The best speaker can connect with their audience because they know where they are coming from.
I say, fall in love with your audience. Because if you love them, you will care enough to listen, appreciate, and help them get what they want. Most people fail in public speaking because they believe it is about them.
Make an irresistible offer.
You can come up with your USP or unique selling proposition. But it is easy to be unique. The challenge is how to become irresistible.
This is why it is crucial for us to find out what our audience needs. Our purpose is to understand what the audience desires (or avoids), how willing they are o do something (that they have not done before), what solutions they expect.
If you have no idea how you are changing the lives of your audience, you have no business speaking before them. Keep that in mind.
The first two steps are simple, but most speakers skip these steps. They spend more time spewing information.
Give the best story.
You tell them of a likable character in crucible. That character needs to make the first step on a journey that will change his life.
He is hesitant.
He does not know if he has what it takes to succeed.
But he cannot stay where he is.
You can tell a story about anyone. And you will allow your audience, through your account, to live under the skin of that person. Your story offers a visceral experience to your audience.
That’s because the hero of your story is not you but your audience.
You are the mentor. You will eventually disappear.
Plan your delivery.
After you have found your story, you will spend time thinking about delivering your speech. Don’t work yet on your PowerPoint Presentations. You may not need it at all.
Consider writing and rewriting your speech. Writing your speech will help you make your story visible. You will work on word choice, sequence, and tone.
Read your speech to find where the life of your story lies. Please note that reading your speech is not a rehearsal.
Involve your audience.
A persuasive speech is an animated conversation.
It is about your audience. You deliver a persuasive speech because you have something they need. Get your audience involved so you can move them to action.
Most of the speeches we know do not involve the audience. That is why most of these speeches are not persuasive. They don’t move the audience.
If you want to move your audience, you’ve got to plan to move physically. They can teach. They can play. They can solve problems together. Find as many ways to make your speech a kinesthetic experience.
Help your audience take action while in the room.
Most speeches fail because the audience does not get the opportunity to get started. They heard a story of struggle and success, but there was nothing to do.
They gave the motivational speaker a standing ovation. He was such an excellent speaker. But they don’t know what to do, how to get started when.
The best time to get started is while they are in the room. You can make your audience make small steps while you are delivering your speech. You don’t have to wait for the conclusion to make a “call to action.”
Awesome persuasive speeches move the audience to action so they can change their world. Help your audience to decide. Show how to get started. And make them start.
I offer workshops on persuasive speaking, presentation, and effective communication to companies in the Philippines.
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Do you want to learn more ways to become an effective public speaker? Then, explore the pages below to learn more secrets.