Persuasive Speech Outline Writing
Nobody is born with perfect oration and convincing skills. Some people have more charisma than others, but that quality alone won't let you perform in front of different listeners and convey different messages equally well. That's when you need a detailed persuasive speech outline, a plan that will guide you to the desired effect. It might be your school assignment or a public speaking event. But, the same way you need a blueprint to build a house, you need a sound speech outline to make it compelling and influence your audience.
You've probably already written a research paper outline or something similar for essays. If you did, you'd have no problems with this one. There are a few ways to write an outline for a persuasive speech. But, we'll focus on one pattern of organization that's been tried and tested many times - Alan Monroe's motivated sequence format. It's a thinking pattern people rely on when facing a problem.
No matter if you are confident in your success or have a fear of public speaking, this persuasive speech scheme will help you. It was created by a Purdue University's lecturer and a psychologist Alan Houston Monroe more than 70 years ago. Still, most politicians and other public figures of today deliver their speeches by this outline template. Doesn't that prove its effectiveness? Below, you will find guidelines that will help you sway your audience. And, at the end of this article, you can download persuasive speech outline examples and a blank template.
Speech Preparation Stage
Before getting to the writing part, you should think about your topic and listeners. The topic itself must draw attention, so brainstorm all the options first. Usually, speakers choose controversial subjects like global warming, school uniforms, illegal immigration, animal testing, the death penalty, etc. Those are hotly debated, so you will always find something to use for your persuasive speech. But, it can also be something as simple as "Why you should smile more" or "How short naps can improve your life."
Who your audience is matters as well. Pick the speech topic based on how fitting it is for your listeners and that you would need to make them act in a way that's different from how they're acting now. What can your audience start doing that will change their lives for the better? That's the question you need to ask when thinking about the topic.
When delivering a persuasive speech, you should also keep the audience in mind. If your topic revolves around technology, but your listeners don't know a lot about it, you should avoid complex terms and jargon. Make sure that whoever is listening to you feels that your speech was tailored to them.
To analyze the audience, ask yourself:
- Who am I delivering the speech to?
- What makes these people tick?
- What goals do they have?
- What are their values?
- What's their motivation?
- What examples will be the most fitting for them?
- What vocabulary is the most suitable to appeal to them?
- How can I tailor the presentation to fit their line of work?
To make it personal, go for a topic you are passionate about, a subject you know you're good at. People will recognize how much time and effort you've spent. They will see this is part of who you are. That will allow you to include personal experience and stories to resonate with your listeners on the same frequencies you resonate with the topic.
If you watched TED talks, you must have noticed how passionate speakers are about the subject of their speeches. That's exactly what makes all those people in the auditorium listen avidly and believe. So, consider the list above carefully to produce the same effect.
How to Write a Fine Persuasive Speech Outline
To help you understand the basic persuasive outline format, we divided it into two sections. One is a list of key points with detailed explanations. The second contains an example of a persuasive essay outline that will help you strengthen the knowledge and apply it in practice.
Note: If it's an assignment for school, you might need an APA cover page, reference page, and in-text citations. Usually, your college provides this outline and the requirements.
You won't be able to use this format for your argumentative essay outline or any other essay and speech type. The list of main points below shows how to structure a persuasive discourse by Alan Monroe. Also, keep in mind that once you finish composing your outline, you can tune it to the topic you are working on. Here's what you should do:
- Grab the attention of your audience.
- Show them there's a problem they need to solve.
- Provide them with the solution.
- Visualize a world where this problem doesn't exist.
- Summarize and call to action.
In the next sections of our article, we'll go over each point in detail. Then, you will learn how a proper persuasive outline for a speech looks on a sample we prepared.
Also, always put a transition between the steps, phrases like "Now that you are aware of..." or "Now that I have told you about..." are usually the best option to ensure cohesion.
Step 1. Drawing the attention
You should arouse your audience's interest by writing an attention getter in the introduction. If you don't make their eyes sparkle straight away, it will be tough to get those eyeballs back to you later. As a strong speech opener, you can use:
- Eye-opening, dramatic, or alarming facts or statistics
- Detailed story or personal experience
- Startling example
- Rhetorical question
- Quote of a famous figure
- Visual aid (videos and images)
- Funny accident
But, avoid anything that can offend your listeners. Even if you think it's just a joke or people will not take it very close - some will.
This section is similar to what you do for an informative speech outline. In this important part, you can also:
- State your topic clearly
- Prove your credibility
- Give a preview of all main points
While the first and the third points can be omitted, the credibility part should always be present. Your listeners must know why they can trust your words. By showing them that you have enough expertise and experience to speak about your topic, you will have more chances to convert reluctance into action.
Step 2. Showing the problem
Your next step is to tell what's wrong. They must clearly see the need for solving this problem and that they are linked to it directly. Don't forget to provide research and its analysis to back up the problem to let everybody understand that it exists and it cannot be ignored. For that, you can use credible support material like examples, statistics, or testimony and their combination. But before using evidence, ensure you:
- Consider its recency
- Ascertain its strength
- Use it accurately
- Avoid bias
- Consider the source
- Explain why it matters
Note: Do not propose any solutions yet! This outline section only reveals a problem and tells why the listeners must solve it.
Step 3. Giving the solution
Now you satisfy the need by offering a solution. If you've done everything correctly, you've already motivated your readers to search for it. To keep your audience's attention and do well in this section, you should:
- Describe your solution. Keep it accurate but don't go into too much detail.
- Explain why it will solve the problem.
- Use real-life examples to illustrate the effectiveness of your plan.
- Back it all up with trustworthy support material (statistics, facts, etc.).
- Present counterarguments to opposing views, if any.
Your goal here is to make your listeners think: "Yes, this will do it. The solution is really prudent and practical."
Step 4. Giving perspective
Only revealing a problem is not enough. You should demonstrate to your audience the result they can achieve once they solve the problem. You can also show them what will happen if they do not do as you say, but that means inducing fear. Ask yourself: "Do I want my audience to be scared after I finish my speech? Or, do I want them to be full of hope and believe that this problem can be solved?" Alternatively, you can combine the positive and the negative. In that case, you should tell how bad the world will be if the listener doesn't deal with the issue first. Then, describe the opposite scenario to contrast the two.
The more vivid picture of the future you will paint, the higher the chance to succeed. Think about a descriptive essay and how you need to stimulate all five senses of the reader. Stir their imagination and ensure the story you're telling is convincing and realistic.
Ideally, after hearing this part, your audience will say to themselves: "This is the world I want to live in." Or something like: "Yes, this will make my life better."
Note: when depicting the consequences of your solution, mention what will happen on a large and individual scales.
Step 5. Calling to action
Your last step is to prod your audience into action. You already laid down everything: from the issue itself to what will happen should they choose to take action or stay put. Now, you must draw a plan that includes the circumstances and executive details. What, where, who, how? Break it all down. The more eloquent your rhetoric, the more chance you have of convincing the audience.
In the conclusion part, you can:
- Summarize the major points
- Provide a relevant quotation
- Challenge the listener
- Appeal to the audience
- Provide an example
- State your intent
- Combine any of the above
For this closing section to be effective and push people to action, you should offer something they can do now. Make it as easy as possible. If you want the audience to sign papers, prepare all the forms necessary beforehand. If you're going to encourage people to smile more, ask them to smile while they're still here. When it can't be done on the spot, you can say: "Who will...? Please raise your hands!"
Persuasive Speech Outline Examples with a Template
To give you a better idea of what a complete outline for persuasive speaking should look like, we created a detailed sample. And don't worry about it focusing on a particular problem because you can tailor it to your needs. This is a persuasive speech outline on the topic of student loan debts.
Persuasive Speech Full Outline Sample - [Student Loan Debts].docxDownload
Here's an example of a whole speech broken into its core parts.
The Dangers of Cell Phones Persuasive Speech Outline.docxDownload
The next one is an outline from the University of North Carolina. It was written by the institution's former student Cary Taylor. This outline for a persuasive speech is a full Monroe's motivated sequence with every step explained in detail and a reference page.
Persuasive Speech Outline by Cary Taylor.pdfDownload
As we said before, there are several approaches to eloquent speechmaking. Santa Monica College provides this sample outline for a persuasive speech that looks more like your regular essay structure.
Santa Monica College Persuasive Speech Outline.docxDownload
There's a different way of organazing your speech, it's called a topical pattern, and it's very similar to your regular essay. Here's an example of such an outline:
Persuasive Speech Example - Topical Pattern.docxDownload
Finally, below is a blank outline template you can download and use for any topic.
Monroes Motivated Sequence - Blank Template.docxDownload
We hope this detailed guide will help you compose the most compelling speech and urge your audience to act. As Thomas Carlyle once said: "Not brute force but only persuasion and faith are the kings of this world."