Persuasive Speech Ideas

Twelve Persuasive Ideas for You 

Speaking persuasively has a lot to do with how you engage your audience, about how you connect. Of course, you need well researched information too. At home, at work and with friends you are persuading people to adopt your ideas. I know from the experience of giving a hundred speeches or so that the process takes tools, skills and practice. Here are some top ideas for you to follow. Check out below on how to engage your audience. Soon you'll have the ear of everyone.

  1. Volunteering creates a better world.
  2. Good parenting in the early years avoids problems later on.
  3. Organizing your life saves time and reduces stress.
  4. Setting goals will turn dreams into reality.
  5. Building personal courage helps people make lifetime changes.
  6. Happiness comes not from money, but from self knowledge and self acceptance.
  7. The economy needs consumerism; but consumerism is also degrading our environment.
  8. The internet needs regulating, or not.
  9. Reducing gang membership will happen through community resources, good education and health care for young people.
  10. Whistleblowers protect societies from bad government and corporate practices.
  11. Doctors should not receive gifts from big pharmaceuticals to promote medications. 
  12. Governments can reduce terrorism by stopping their own aggression. 

Those of us who know how to convince others have influence. They are the ones who are listened to. So, how do those who are listened to achieve this recognition? How can we persuade people to pay attention to our ideas or to move our audience into action with our ideas?

For persuasion to really work, the message you are putting out has to be based on truth and delivered with the right intentions. You are persuading, not conning after all!

For more help go to Public Speaking, check out Public Speaking Topics and Importance of Public Speaking. Also have a look at Public Speaking Outline and Public Speaking Fear. Learn how to speak persuasively and finally how to Master Public Speaking.

Four Top Persuasion Principles

Aim at a Narrow Target

Give your audience specific, reliable information. Choose your best material and ditch the rest. Doing a data dump on your listeners will confuse them and water down your positions. Keep focused and know your audience. Know where they are coming from as much as possible. Keep this position in mind when you write your speech. You want to tailor your points to that common position.

For example, let’s say you are speaking to a group that has suffered from a number of damaging weather events and your talk is about reducing fuel consumption. You know your audience is concerned about the weather but not quite accepting of climate change.

To keep your position focused and interesting, you could say,” I was talking to a friend the other day and he said that he’d just bought a Toyota Prius. He told me that he was amazed the engine stopped while he was idling. He said to me, “Imagine how much we’d save on fuel and how good our air would be if we all drove a Prius?” Then you could ask your audience, “Wouldn’t that be good for you too?”

 Use Stories to convey your message

Everyone loves a story. In fact, I weave stories throughout my speeches because if they are well told, they convince. Stories paint pictures. When you tell them, try to describe sights, colours, actions and sounds. Really paint that picture.

For example, let’s say your manager has noticed people talking time off in your office. You suspect the culprit is stress. So you decide to talk to your office employees about stress and the value of relaxation. You could ask them to close their eyes and imagine walking on a beach. The waves are rolling in. The sky is blue; the temperature a whisper on the skin; the sand is soft as they walk along.

Create a short story about children building sand castles and so forth. Then you could ask them to describe things that they do to relax. Ask them to imagine the sights and sounds. You want to keep your audience engaged. You don’t want them to feel they’re being sold a load of goods.

Use a quote

 Quotations are powerful, especially when everyone knows who gave the quotation. Let’s imagine you are talking to an audience about company performance. Your focus is setting goals. You know your audience is tired and somewhat resistant. So you grab your tool kit of quotes and bingo.

 You open the talk on goal setting with “If you don't know where you are going, you'll probably end up somewhere else,” by Lewis Carroll. They’ve probably all read Alice in Wonderland and so will recognize Lewis Carroll as having had something worthwhile to say.

 You provide them with solid information about planning and goal setting and close your speech with, “Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning,” by Thomas Edison. They’ll know him as the fellow who invented the light bulb. Quotations will add authority, color and interest to your speech.

 Introduce Two Facts in Order to Give Believability to the Third

 For example, you might be trying to persuade legislators to introduce strong penalties for cyber bullying. You have a number of educators in your audience who give facts about the incidence cyber bullying and the dire effects on students’ ability to learn. You give more facts. Then you ask the politicians to enact a bill with enforced fines and imprisonment for cyber bullies.

Three Top Types of Persuasion

Three important ways to influence the thinking and behavior of your listeners:

 Inspire -- you may want to excite your listeners about your topic and reinforce their ideas or beliefs. Sermons and commencement speeches inspire an audience. Your goal here is not to change their opinions or beliefs.

Convince -- with this type you want to change your listener’s opinions or to get them to adopt your outlook. For example, if you believe there is life in outer space, you would develop a speech with many examples of evidence.

Call to Action -- in this area you want your audience to actually do something such as let others know, learn more about the subject or perspective or purchase a product.

Three ways to help the audience remember your speech.

  1. Use humor. Try to get the audience laughing. They will loosen up and enjoy the information with you.
  2. Tell a story. Stories are powerful. If we were lucky we heard stories at home. Tell stories of things that happened to you or your friends or talk about something you read. You can even use some shock value. After all, you want to persuade.
  3. Use language appropriate for the speech. If you are talking to teenagers, use their level of language. Use plain, simple easy to understand words for a mixed audience.

Four Ways to Gain Respect and Trust

1.  Be knowledgeable. You want to be prepared and qualified to discuss the subject should there be questions. You want to give lots of evidence to support your opinion.

2. Know Your Reputation. Make sure that your audience knows your experience and background on the subject.

3. Be Sincere. Communicate your ideas with conviction and believe that your ideas will benefit your listeners. Make clear that you have their interest in mind because people are often suspicious of those who try to change them. You want your audience to know that your reasons for persuasion are not selfish.

4. Practice Your Delivery. Avoid being timid. Speak with conviction and authority. Establish direct eye contact with members of your audience one by one.

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Know Your Audience

When you know who you are speaking to, you'll work with their position. 

Your audience could be:

Agreeable. This is the easiest of audiences to convince. You simply have to reinforce and strengthen their current beliefs.

Apathetic. This type of audience doesn’t care much about your subject. So you will need to rouse them and let them know how your subject affects them.

Hostile. These folks are absolutely opposed to your viewpoint or subject. They’d rather not have to listen to you. So you have to offer them convincing evidence about the importance of the topic and how doing nothing about it will affect audience members. You’ll have to work hard with this group!

Uninformed. These people aren’t hostile. They just don’t know much about the subject. Your job is to first provide information and then arguments to move them to your position.

Mixed. This group is a combination of all of the above. Provide lots of information here. Be objective and with your background research convince this audience of the merits of your position. 

The Importance of Proof, Logic and Emotion in Persuasive Speech Ideas

 Proof is Important in Persuasive Speech Ideas

Your audience might think they already have a rational opinion on your subject and they they don’t need you to convince them otherwise. You'll want to raise their interest with new information. You'll want to be believable. The more believable the information, the more you’ll be able to change audience opinion.

Logic is important. You want to provide evidence, give research. Your evidence and reasoning is important for changing people’s minds.

 Appeal to Your Audience’s Emotion. Your audience will not be convinced by logic alone. You will want to arouse feelings of happiness, sadness, anger, guilt, fear and love. Touch their heartstrings as well as their head and you'll have the ticket to persuasive speech ideas.


How to Organize Your Speech 

1. State the problem. Provide the solution.

2. Begin with your proposition. Then follow with proofs to support it.

3. Use a five step speech structure developed by Dr. Alan Monroe, a communications specialist:

I Seize the audience’s attention.

II State the need.

III Provide your listeners with the satisfaction of knowing how your position will fulfill their needs.

IV Help them visualize the positive results.

V Encourage your audience to take action. 

By using these top tips for persuasive speech ideas you will have the audience won over by the end of the speech. 


“We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it

 – but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.” Oliver Wendell Holmes 


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