Steve Iman, College of Business,
Cal Poly Pomona
- Gain attention and interest. Try a quote? Try
humor(see below)? Shock or startle? ("Before this speech
is finish, 5 recent students will have lost jobs in the
new depression.") Try a direct question? ("What sort of
internet addict are you?") Stress a key word or symbol?
(Get dialog going on the symbolic meaning of the
- Try humor, depending on the overall purpose of the
presentation. Old editions of Readers Digest are great
sources since the material is clean and people will
probably have forgotten the jokes.
- Establish your credibility early
- Demonstrate audience analysis and understanding. Make
relevant, direct contact with audience - why does it
- Preview main points? (an arguments can be made that
solutions shouldn't emerge until at least half way
through your speech in order to avoid having your
- Create cognitive dissonance. Your audience must feel
involved in the problem before they'll be moved to accept
- Make effective transitions between ideas
- Demonstrate enthusiasm and/or passion
- Provoke thought through questions
- Construct a logical case with evidence in support of
what you're trying to sell
- Avoid verbal fillers/disfluency
- Close with a memorable summary, perhaps request a
specific act or action from the audience . Be
declarative, maybe firm and demanding in your close.
What do we mean by persuasive speaking?
Persuasive speaking urges us to do something.
Informative speaking, on the other hand, reveals and
clarifies options. Informative speakers teach. Persuasive
speakers lead, evoke emotions and ask for audience
commitment. Sometimes persuasive speeches are aimed at
earning passive agreement, as in persuading an audience of
the importance of some policy, value, or service. At other
times, persuasive speeches aim for personal action, as in
getting people to join an organization, buy a product or
service, or support a cause.
Methods of Persuasion
People have been trying to influence one another for a
long time. Maybe one of the most articulate early speakers
was the Greek Philosopher Aristotle. His ideas are as
relevant today as they were when he was teaching at the
Lyceum around 300 B.C. He thought there were basically three
ways to influence people:
- Credibility -- "ethos". Sometimes
we believe something simply because we trust the person
telling us. You want to look like you know what you're
- Emotional appeal -- "pathos". Sometimes
we do things because of a "gut feeling" or an appeal to
our emotions, whether those of compassion or fear.
Advertisers make great headway tweaking our concerns
about what others might think about us.
- Rational appeal -- "logos". Providing
good reasons is important. Providing evidence and
reasoning are a strong part of the persuasive
Appealing to logic may be the hardest of the three
sources of influence for the speaker to use. What's
important here is the development of relevant "support
material". Three types of support material commonly used
include examples, statistics, and testimony.
Examples are useful in clarifying, reinforcing, or
personalizing ideas. These could involve case studies or
anecdotal examples &emdash; slices of life to prove the
point. Ethically, you should help your audience gauge the
credibility of your sources, the representativeness of
examples and samples, etc. Using examples without other
types of support material can come across as weak evidence.
Statistics can help. Combing them with examples can be
powerful. Using too many statistics can be deadly. You
should qualify the sample, translate the statistics that you
use so the audience can understand fairly. Relevant visual
display of statistics can be a powerful aid in making an
Personal testimony can also provide dramatic support
material. Testimony can give emotional life to the issues
you're focusing on. You should of course quote or paraphrase
accurately and fairly, identify and qualify the source's
A common pattern used in formulating persuasive speeches
is called "Monroe's Motivated Sequence". Though
particularly appropriate when you're seeking a commitment to
personal action, the suggested sequence can provide good
structural ideas for any sort of persuasive presentation.
The five parts identified in the sequence below include:
Attention, Need, Satisfaction, Visualization, Action; but
only three main points. For fun, I'll illustrate the points
around an appeal for MHR students to join and support PIHRA.
In the Introduction
A. A scenario of a recent graduate who cannot
get hired to a position in Human Resources requiring
"experience" and evidence of community involvement and
leadership. Maybe in the form of a letter or quote from
I. Students seeking careers in HR often have a
A. Every year many jobs are available, but
require appropriate internship experiences as a bare
B. Only a small number of graduating seniors in MHR have
career-oriented professional experience.
II. If more students had solid internship experiences,
professional success of graduates would be multiplied.
A. Involvement in PIHRA is a sound resume item
in the eyes of employers.
B. PIHRA students meet monthly with regional
professionals in order to develop networks and identify
III. With an internship you'll be able to launch one of the
most exciting careers that a young person in business can
A. Let's look again at the opening scenario and
see if you can really afford to continue with the
non-professional employment you have.
B. Statistics show that MHR graduates who prepare well
launch professional careers, and that after about five
years of on-the-job growth are prepared for major career
In the conclusion
Call to the audience to join PIHRA and share in
helping to develop internship learning opportunities for
As you're brainstorming criteria for a good presentation, ou
may also want to visit a more formal
presentation evaluation form than the one we'll be using