Persuasion Speech Techniques In The College Classroom
The Psychology of Persuasion
To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful. —Edward R. Murrow, Radio Broadcaster/Journalist
Changing people's beliefs is quite a challenge in public speaking platforms and requires presentation of ethical and sound argument while persuading your audience to consider your view. Many careers necessitate the ability to speak persuasively in order to enlist others to act on the message. We are all accustomed to the persuasive speeches given by such professions as lawyers, public relations specialists, and sales representatives. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines persuasion as: to move by argument, entreaty, or expostulation to a belief, position, or course of action. This is definitely the goal in teaching college students to acquire the art of persuasion in public speaking.
The psychological process of persuasion exists when two or more view points exist. You can imagine the controversy and opposition involved when a speaker addresses an audience on a topic such as The Need For Red Light Camera Ticketing Enforcement. The audience adoption of your point will depend upon your ability to influence others who may possess a strong value, attitude and belief against your argument.
Resource On The Art Of Persuasion
Classroom Exercise On Persuasion
As an introduction to persuasive speech, I have students form groups of two and give them a stack of cards listing opposite word meanings. For example, one set will have "up" on the first card and "down" on the second. Each person will argue his or her word (or topic) is better than the other for one minute.
The exercise gives them practice on the art of persuasion. Often one student will convince the other he or she is right. It is amusing to watch, but it effectively conveys the message that some people are easily persuaded through factual and clear argument. The video in this article was taken during one of our classroom sessions. It is a good example of how this exercise encourages dialogue defending strong preference on a position or about a belief.
Persuasion Speech Exercise: Cat Versus Dog
Ideas For Persuasion Card Exercise
Rippled Potato Chip
Plain Potato Chip
Renting a home
Owning a home
Owning a car
Using public transporation
Let Us Know
Have you ever been persuaded to action through a speech or presentation?
Monroe's Motivated Sequence
Alan Monroe, a professor of speech at Purdue University, developed a five-step method of organizing persuasive speech. The steps focus on attention, need, satisfaction, visualization, and action. This method of persuasion is often preferred over others because it is structured and guides the audience to a desired action. It is widely used in advertising and is quite effective in creating a sense of obligation in the listener to take action on the message.
I use this method in speech class because it easy to understand and useful in developing strong presentation skills. As further reinforcement of this process, I give a homework assignment having each student watch a television commercial for the sequence of this persuasion method. Using the learning from the assignment, students can identify the steps readily and apply the structure to their speech outline.
Subjects of Emotional Appeal
- Fear: Natural Disaster, Sexual Assault, Economic Hardship
- Compassion: Battered Women, Animal Abuse, Starvation or Famine, AIDS Victims
- Pride: Family, School, Ethnic Heritage, Personal Accomplishment, Country
- Anger: Terrorism, Political Issues, Theft
- Guilt: The Homeless, Personal and Social Ethical Standards
- Reverence: Personal Claims, Faith, Leadership
Emotional Appeal In Marketing (Persuasive Sales)
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Persusion Methods That Motivate Listeners
A speaker's competence and character influence an audience to accept the message. Credibility is established in the mind of the listener, it is an attitude towards the speaker's method of presentation. Before a speaker even opens her or his mouth, the audience has already formed an opinion of the topic. The speech must be presented to influence through the speaker's knowledge and expertise of the subject. The speaker must establish trust with the listener through the facts given and sincerity shown during the message. Often this can be accomplished by establishing common ground with the audience, or by sharing from personal experience on the topic.
The use of supporting material to prove or disprove an idea or topic is crucial in establishing credibility with an audience. And this is especially so when the audience opposes the speaker's point of view. A speaker can address these concerns by knowing what types of questions and opposing views may exist in the mind of the listener. Anticipating questions and objections will help to develop a speech with strong supporting evidence.
Statistics, testimonies, and concrete examples are specific evidence that persuade an audience. Using new or novel evidence also is effective in persuading someone to rethink an issue. The presenter must clearly prove his point so that the audience can draw a conclusion based upon the evidence presented.
Pathos or emotional appeal was first introduced by Aristotle and refers to the human response to emotional appeals such as anger, guilt, fear, happiness, pride, and reverence. Using emotional appeal in a speech helps stir the audience to action. Words can have powerful effects upon people and often makes a speech more compelling. For example, consider how the following statement impacts a listener.
Tara was just a little girl of five when she began to walk with a slight limp. Initially, her mother thought she was pretending to gain her attention. Little did she know that Tara had become infected through a recent mosquito bite while playing outdoors. Her body was quickly deteriorating within, her temperature was rising and she would soon develop uncontrollable seizures. The Center For Disease and Prevention informs parents about the symptoms of the West Nile Virus and how ignoring simple warning signs can lead to serious complications in young children. According to their statistics, the symptoms can appear as soon as three days after a child is bitten.
Of course, students must ensure that they are using ethical standards of emotional appeal to persuade an audience. Research is required to produce strong influence through credible resources. Making statements based upon valid facts and truths builds credibility and leads to audience response and commitment to action.
Persuasion speeches are powerful but a speaker must realize they will not motivate some listeners to action. However, if a speech is built upon ethical, valid, and credible resources, a speaker can sometimes convince even the most strongly opposed individual to at least reconsider their point of view.