What Is Persuasive Speech? (Plus 10 Tips for Creating One)

Updated February 3, 2023

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A company's employees gather to listen to an announcement.

A persuasive speech is a type of speech crafted to convince someone to believe or do something. Individuals use persuasive speeches in a variety of professional capacities, including debates, sales pitches, presentations and legal proceedings. With a plan, preparation and practice, you can influence your audience's or customer's behavior through speech. 

In this article, we will define persuasive speech, plus go through 10 tips for creating a persuasive speech of your own.

What is a persuasive speech?

A persuasive speech is a type of speech where the goal is to convince the audience to accept the speaker's point of view or perform a desired action. The speaker uses words and visuals to guide the audience's thoughts and actions. Persuasive speeches rely on three forms of rhetoric, which are as follows:

  • Ethos: Ethos is the speaker's credibility. An effective speaker proves to the audience they're an expert on the topic and deserve the audience's attention.

  • Pathos: Pathos is the speaker's ability to appeal to the audience's emotions. The speaker uses feelings such as compassion or fear to connect with and persuade their listeners.

  • Logos: Logos is the speaker's ability to use logic and reasoning to convince the audience. They use examples and supporting evidence to make their argument and prove to the audience why it's true.

Speakers can also use nonverbal cues, tone, confidence and the surrounding environment to influence their listeners while giving a persuasive speech.

Related: 13 Main Types of Speeches (With Examples and Tips)

Crafting a persuasive speech

For a persuasive speech to be effective, consider these 10 tips:

1. Become an expert and anticipate counterarguments

Research the topic you’re speaking about to ensure you know as much as you can. Read articles or books from respected sources such as journals, universities or news organizations.

Also, familiarize yourself with the counterargument to your speech. You should understand all opinions and viewpoints on the topic so that you can address them during your speech.

You can learn what people think about the topic by reading opinion articles and forum discussions or by listening to podcasts. By addressing relevant counterarguments, you may persuade listeners who have a different opinion than you.

2. Set and state a goal

As you prepare your speech, identify the goal you are trying to achieve so that you can focus your argument on a consistent objective. Understanding your goal can help you organize your message and approach.

When you deliver your speech, state your goal or primary argument early and explain its importance. This allows the audience to understand your intent, which may make you appear more trustworthy.

3. Learn about your audience

Understand your audience and their opinions so that you can take the right steps to influence them. If they aren't familiar with the topic, provide them with background information and avoid using jargon or complex terminology.

If they already agree with your beliefs, convincing them to take your desired action should be easier than if your audience has opposing viewpoints. In the latter case, you might choose to introduce additional facts and evidence to support your argument..

Related: What Is Background Information and What Purpose Does It Serve?

4. Choose an approach

Decide how you want to appeal to your audience—through ethos, pathos or logos—depending on your audience and the topic. After researching your audience and their beliefs, you should know whether they respond better to logic, emotion or authority.

You can appeal to them using just one approach or a combination of approaches. A combination of ethos, pathos and logos often results in the strongest argument.

5. Create an outline

Organize your speech's main points using an outline. Base the number of points you want to use to support your argument on the amount of time you have to speak. You can usually make an effective case in fewer than 10 minutes, which is short enough to keep the audience's attention. Aim for at least three or four supporting points.

Related: The Key to Successful Speech Writing

6. Write a strong introduction

Your introduction sets the tone for the rest of the speech. It's your opportunity to make a strong and convincing first impression on your audience. When writing your introduction, include a statement or visual that gets their attention.

You might say something funny that makes the audience laugh, or you might tell a story that produces an emotional response. Also, provide your credentials so the audience can gauge your authority on the topic.

7. Appeal to unity

An important part of persuasion is establishing something that you and your audience members have in common, such as how you might all benefit if they help you achieve your goal by taking your desired action.

This technique helps you create a bond between you and your audience. This bond may inspire your audience to feel that they have a personal stake in the argument, which increases their attentiveness.

8. Provide evidence

Give your audience examples and reasons to agree with each point in your speech. Use evidence-based facts and information from reliable sources. You can also use real-life examples such as personal testimonies or stories to appeal to pathos. When presenting your evidence, do so in a way that flows logically and completes your argument.

Related: 8 Persuasive Writing Tips (With Examples)

9. End with a call to action

Conclude your speech with a call to action that summarizes what you told your audience and what you hope they do next. This action might be signing a petition, voting for a particular candidate or purchasing a product. Restate your main points and how they reinforce the call to action.

Related: How To Write a Good Call to Action (With Examples)

10. Practice your speech

After you've written your persuasive speech, practicing it can help you become familiar with the content and identify whether it needs more changes. You can try practicing in front of a mirror or recording your speech on your smartphone to observe gestures and expressions. Through this practice, you can make sure you look and sound relaxed and confident.

Next, give your speech to one or more friends or family members to get their feedback and determine whether your speech is convincing enough to influence their beliefs or actions. They may have suggestions about how to make your final speech more persuasive if necessary.

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