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When we engage in "speaking to persuade" our goal is to create / reinforce / change our audience’s believes or actions. 

For this assignment you are going to select a topic with the purpose to persuade / convince your audience on. Remember that the topic must be of interest to you, but it should also be appropriate for:

  • your audience: Take a moment to think who your audience is and what their attitudes / beliefs / values may be in reference to your topic.
  • the occasion: this is a persuasive speech assignment. Make sure the topic is persuasive and not informative.
  • the setting: this is a college class. We expect topics that are of a college level / academic caliber. 


Example Persuasive Speech Topics

  • Proposition of Fact - Mass extinctions are [are not]the norm in the animal kingdom / The effects of Chernobyl are still significant.
  • Proposition of Value – It is wrong not to spay or neuter your pet / TV violence is bad for kids.
  • Proposition of Policy -  Factory Farms Should be Banned / Products that contain genetically modified ingredients should be labeled / The NCAA should pay a reasonable stipend to college athletes playing money-making sports.



  • Select a topic with one of the following purposes:
    • To influence an audience’s attitudes about an issue;
    • To influence an audience’s beliefs or understanding about something;
    • To influence an audience’s behavior – to undertake a certain action(s), or,
    • To reinforce an audience’s existing attitudes, beliefs, or behavior.

Note: REMEMBER that your failure to choose an appropriate and ethical speech topic according to the student code of conduct outlined in the syllabus will result in a fail on this assignment. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me prior to the assignment deadline.  

  • As you are choosing the topic for your speech, think about your audience. What do you know about them? What is their cultural background and how might that impact how they perceive your message? What are their expectations for this speech? What are some of the topics they would find interesting? 
  • Once you think through those issues and select your topic, begin thinking about what the audience’s standpoint is. What kind of argument will you need to achieve your goal, are they all in one mind about your topic, or are opinions diverse? 
  • After determining your topic and accounting for the factors involved in audience analysis, you will start developing the main structure of your speech. Your persuasive speech must follow Monroe’s Motivated Sequence – your main points must be structured according to the Problem-Solution format and be developed with clear lines of argument. A deduction of 10% will be assessed for failure to use the Motivated Sequence.
  • Once the structure is set and you have determined your three arguments (problem, solution & reward/visualization),  you need to decide how best to support the ideas and concepts you choose to discuss in your speech. A good speech uses a variety of types of support material (facts and statistics, testimony, and examples) that come from a variety of sources (books, magazines, newspapers, interviews, the Internet, etc.)
  • Once the first draft is written, you will need to edit, polish and style your speech and its language.
  • Once the final version is finished, you will need to determine how best to convey your arguments. Audiences often find complex information easier to understand if the orator both describes it and shows it through the use of a visual aid. Visual aids may take a variety of forms and should always enhance the audience’s understanding of the topic. Make sure your visual aid is easily visible to the entire audience – including the ones watching on video. 
  • Rehearse the speech with your note cards and your visual aids. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Rehearse to the point that you can comfortably deliver it in an extemporaneous manner with minimal use of your keyword note cards.
  • Your speech must be delivered extemporaneously, which means with minimal use note cards, which shall contain keywords onlyPrior to starting your speech it is mandatory to show  the contents on your notecards (closeup) to the camera.

  • Content


    1. Starts with an attention getter or hook right at the beginning. Remember that having an attention getter is one thing, having a good one is another. You will not get full credit if your attention getter is ineffective. Engage in critical thinking to determine which type of attention getter would best suit your speech. 
    2. Justification – Relate topic to audience by saying how relevant it is for them to know something about this topic. Consider explaining qualitative significance, which refers to the great impact it has on people (people that are affected by my topic are GREATLY affected) and/or quantitative significance, which refers to the impact the topic has on a large amount of people (my topic is important because it affects a lot of people) remember to support such claims with research (statistics or facts) complete with oral and written citations. Make sure to tie the justification directly to your audience. The more personal you can make it to them, the better. 
    3. Explain your credibility. How do you have this information you are about to share? Are you an expert? Did you gather information? Do you have personal experience?
    4. Thesis Statement – what is the claim that you are making? What is the claim that you want us to agree with? One sentence. Essentially, this is your "proposition of fact / value / policy".
    5. Purpose statement. In one sentence, state what your goal is with the speech. For example: "To convince my audience to ……..," or "To persuade my audience to start/stop/support …….".
    6. Preview your main points. “First I will tell you about…Then I will…Lastly I will…” 



    1. You should have 3 main points for the body of the speech. Each one is stated as a single-sentence argument that supports your thesis statement. They are structured according to Monroe’s Motivated Sequence: 
      • Main Point #1: Problem Step
      • Main Point #2: Solution Step
      • Main Point #3: Reward / Visualization Step 
        A deduction of 10% will be assessed for failure to use the Motived Sequence.
    2. There is quality evidence and sound reasoning to support each of your main points. The support is not based solely on your opinion but gathered from credible outside sources and you provide complete citations.
    3. You present both sides of the issue. If you forget to address what your critics believe, your argument will be one-sided. Make sure you address any possible counter-arguments, then demolish them with strong evidence to support your points.
    4. Transitions: Use transitions for clarity. These can be internal summaries or previews. For example, “Now that I have discussed X, and explained why it is so important, I am going to turn to Y and show you the benefits…”



    1. Transition into the conclusion with a phrase such as “In conclusion…,” or “In closing…,” or “As I bring this to an end…”.
    2. Summarize each main point in 1-2 sentences.
    3. Tieback to your introduction by restating your thesis statement
    4. Call to Action - this is your last opportunity to push your audience over the threshold into "coming over to your side" / "doing what you want them to do". Drive that point home. For example, "Use this number to call your Congress Representative to ….."
    5. Provide a Memorable Final Thought - This is your last opportunity to leave your audience with something to remember your speech by. Make sure that your final thought provides your audience with a sense of closure and signals that your speech is finished (without saying, “I am done,” “that’s it” or something similar). Consider referring back to your attention getter by (for example) restating the quote / answering the question / restating the statistic / providing a follow up statistic / etc. 


    Source Citation: 

    1. At least THREE source citations are required within your speech, of which at least one (1) MUST be a non-internet source. (Think: book / periodical / research paper / news or radio broadcast / personal interview with an expert.)
    2. Include an oral source citations for each main point.
    3. Sources must be credible (Wikipedia is NOT credible).
    4. Remember to always cite your source BEFORE you present the evidence!

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