Persuasion – Monroe’s Motivated Sequence

One of the best ways to organize a persuasive speech is with a method called Monroe’s Motivated Sequence. It is utilized in many television commercials is probably the most effective way to get people to take action. Well, it’s probably not as effective as forcing someone to do something at gunpoint, but the motivated sequence is much more ethical, and shouldn’t get you arrested.

If you need to give a persuasive speech for school using Monroe’s Motivated Sequence, you should first consider a couple of things when choosing your topic in order to be as persuasive as possible. First, choose a topic that your audience members will be able to do in the near future. For example, “wear your seat belt on the way home from class today” or “give blood at the blood drive this Friday”. The sooner your audience can do what you ask, the more likely they will be to actually do it.

The second thing to consider when choosing a topic is make it is as relevant to the audience’s lives as possible. It is meaningless to persuade your audience to quit smoking if only a few of your audience members actually smoke.

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence has 5 steps that must be presented in this order:

  1. The Attention Step: This is the equivalent to the introduction section of an informative speech or five-paragraph essay. You open with a question (preferably rhetorical), a quote from someone famous or respected, a story (preferably true), or a startling statistic. You would then give your audience a reason to listen, and then preview your speech.
  2. The Need Step: You need to clearly show that the problem exists in the lives of your audience members. Consequently, you need to know your audience as well as possible. The problem also needs to be stated in negative terms and credible evidence used to demonstrate that this is a real problem. Students frequently skimp on this step because they mistakenly believe the audience members already see the problem as they do. Don’t make this mistake. Your audience is probably much less aware of the problem than you are.
  3. The Satisfaction Step: So, now that you’ve established that there is a problem, the next thing you do is provide a workable, reasonable plan that allows your audience to solve the problem. Remember, the easier the solution, the more likely your audience will do it. The whole point of your speech is to get your audience to take action, so if your solution is too hard or time consuming, there is less chance they will do it. In this step, you also need to address any objections your audience will have to do what you propose. Anticipate these objections and address them now. For instance, if you are trying to persuade your audience to wear their seat belts, one objection they might have is that they don’t feel they need to belt-up if they aren’t going very far. Bring it up and provide statistics on traffic fatalities that occur close to home.
  4. The Visualization Step: In this step, you need to create a visual image of your audience taking action. There are two ways to do this: show your audience members how great the world would be if they do what you ask, or show them how terrible the world will be if they don’t, or both. You have appealed to your audience’s logical side by using statistics and number in the previous steps, now you can appeal to their emotions and desires.
  5. The Action Step: This would be similar to the conclusion portion of an informative speech. You signal the end of your speech, you recap the need, the satisfaction, and the visualization steps, and then you ask them to take action. It may feel weird, but tell them exactly what you want them to do now.

Remember, in order to be persuasive, make sure to accomplish these five steps in order. Also, be sure your topic is as relevant to your audience as possible, and use sound research to show the need for your audience to do as you ask. Good luck with your speech!

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