Key Elements of a Persuasive Speech

A persuasive speech is intended to convince your audience to support your position, or to at least be willing to listen to a position that’s different from what they currently believe. This can be a daunting task. People are reluctant to move from a position that are comfortable with, even if you present facts to show them that their position is wrong. If fact, showing them they are wrong can make it even more difficult to get them to change their views! There are some key elements that must be present in any persuasive speech in order for that speech to have any hope of being effective.

Key Element #1: You must be exceptionally organized. You need to grab audience attention immediately with a startling statistic or story. If you meander and repeat yourself trying to get to your main points, the audience will lose interest. Tell them what your view is and how you will support it. Remember, many in your audience don’t agree with your stance. If you don’t speak clearly and make your points plainly, it will just give them an excuse to stop listening.

Acknowledge that there are opposing views and counter those with well-crafted arguments that support your view. Keep your structure simple and don’t try to cover too many points in one speech. Decide on your main argument and support it with 3 well-constructed points. Stories are good to illustrate these points.

A persuasive speech cannot be given “off the cuff.” You must practice and practice. Try your speech out in front of family and friends. Have some friends show you quizzical or skeptical facial expressions so that you are used to seeing these before speech day.

Key Element #2: Body Language. Your body will send a message that’s as strong as your oral argument. Make sure to stand straight, look the audience straight in the eye and use your body to send the message that you believe in what you are saying and what you are saying is correct. If you appear afraid or timid in front of a hostile audience they will sense it and discount you. Or worse yet, they might smell blood and make it a point to snicker and ridicule your comments and your views. Note: Most audiences will be much too polite to do this, even if they disagree with your views. They will just tune you out.

Key Element #3: Your Voice. Knowing how to use your voice will greatly enhance the message of your persuasive speech. Listen to a televangelist to see an expert at work in this regard. People like Joyce Meyer and Robert Schuller are pros at persuasive speaking. They vary their speech, and pitch, going from a loud statement at one point to a whisper at another. They are also very polished at using the pause. Most speakers are afraid to allow for a pause and speak non-stop. Televangelists will pause frequently, sometimes for as long as several seconds, to let their points sink in. Watch and learn. Your vocal delivery is more important in a persuasive speech than in any other type.

Kay Element #4: Credibility and Passion. You must seem sincere and rational to your audience. Screaming, ranting and raving about your issue isn’t going to get converts. You need to be seen as someone who is an expert in your area and correct in your facts. You must also convey your passion about your subject. If you can’t convince your audience that this issue is crucial to you, they will dismiss you and your argument.

I also think it’s important to be positive in your presentation. Let’s say your subject is animal abuse. Showing picture after picture of tortured animals may be too much for an audience to handle and their minds will shut off. Instead focus on the positive impact your organization has on rescuing animals from bad situations. Show before and after pictures of one abused animal that your group rescued and placed in a loving home. Your audience needs to know that they are accomplishing something worthwhile and positive if they support your group.

You will seldom give a persuasive speech that will immediately make your audience change to whole-hearted support of your view. People just don’t change their minds this quickly. Your goal should be to make them realize that your view is reasonable and worth considering. If you can do this your speech will be a success.

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