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Persuasion

A.S.T. - District 50, Area 66, Club 9872

   

Toastmaster Speech Manual Number Eight


Persuade with Power   
                                                  

 

Objectives
*   To Present a talk that persuade the audience to accept your proposal or viewpoint 
*   To achieve this persuasive effect by appealing to the audience's self interest, building a logical 
      foundation for agreement, and arousing emotional commitment to your cause
*   TIME: Five to seven minutes

 

 
  
   Throughout history speech has been a major form of social influence and control, as people have rallied around those
who could speak persuasively.    
             The ability to persuade - to get other people to understand, accept, and act upon your ideas - is vital when you communicate with and lead others at home and at work. Developing your persuasive skills is one of the best investments in time and effort you can make.    
 

Pervasion of Persuasive Messages   
Today we are bombarded by persuasive messages. Advertisements try to persuade us to buy a particular brand of soft drink, coffee, or antacid. Salespeople try to persuade us to buy an automobile, a personal computer, or a cellular telephone. We are also persuaders ourselves, trying to convince our spouses to vacation in the Bahamas, a sales clerk to refund out money, our boss that we deserve a salary increase, or our children to clean their rooms.   

In the second project, you spoke on a subject about which you have strong beliefs. Now you will focus on making your audience accept your beliefs. To accomplish this, you must appeal to people's self-interests, carefully analyze your audience, present evidence that supports your proposal, and generate emotional commitment to your views.  

There are three major components of any persuasive communication: the persuader, the purpose of your message, and the audience.    
 

The Persuader   
Impression count, and this is especially true in persuasive speaking. While the content of your message is important, of equal weight is the audience's opinion of you. Your listeners must like, trust, and respect you before they will adopt your ideas. They should view you as someone they can identify with - someone whose needs and interests are similar to theirs. They base their opinion of you on your:   
 
 

1

Knowledge. You must be qualified to discuss the subject and offer evidence to support your position. You must know the subject and be able to present plenty of evidence to support your ideas.  

2

Reputation. Your reputation is based on your past performances, accomplishments, publicity, and honors. Make sure the audience is familiar with your qualifications through your introduction, advance publicity, or your speech itself. 

3

Sincerity. You communicate your ideas with conviction and believe that what you are proposing will truly benefit the audience. Audiences are naturally suspicious of anyone who is trying to their interest in mind and are not seeking their support for selfish reasons.  

4

Delivery. If you appear nervous, timid, or bored, the audience will be less likely to accept your ideas. Speak with confidence, firmness, and self-assurance, and establish direct eye contact with listeners.  

  
 

The Purpose of Your Message   
What is your goal as a speaker? Is it not get the audience to act? Change their attitudes or beliefs? Inspire them or arouse their enthusiasm or emotions? Once you know your purpose, you must construct your speech so that you appeal to listeners self-interests. People don't buy a product because a salesperson wants them to. They buy it because it's useful, desirable, and beneficial to them. To be  persuasive, you must convince them that your interests coincide with theirs.   
         

The Audience   
Before you prepare your speech, you will need to analyze your prospective audience carefully. The way you present your persuasive message will depend on whom your listeners are and what attitudes they hold toward your subject. What are their occupations, interest, and educational backgrounds? How much information do they already have on the subject? Do they care about the issue you will discuss? Are they favorable toward your viewpoint? Undecided? Opposed?  
 

Your Persuasive Approach  
Once you've decided your speech objective, you can determine which persuasive approach you will use. No two persuasive situation are alike. However, you'll find these general guidelines helpful in most cases  
        
 

1

If the audience agrees with your viewpoint, your goal will be to reinforce and strengthen this agreement. In many instances, you need not present both sides of an issue when you've sure the audience agrees with your viewpoint. However, if your listeners have been exposed to a differing view, acknowledge the opposing argument and present evidence supporting your own.

2

If the audience is neutral or apathetic, your main goal is to convince your listeners that the issue directly affects and is important to them. If you're confronting a problem, show how it relates to them and their lives. After establishing its relevance, present the possible solutions. Explain the impact of each solution, and demonstrate why yours is the best alternative.  

3

If the audience opposes your view, don't expect to achieve major attitudinal changes. Instead simply strive to have your listeners recognize the merits of your position and reconsider their own views. Begin by establishing common ground, leading your listeners back to basic principles and indisputable facts on which you and they agree. As  you proceed, promote your own beliefs, but don't let listeners equate your argument with an attack on them. Present your message fairly, and be considerate of others' feelings.  

             

Organizing and Presenting your Persuasive Message  
Once you've selected your topic and your basic approach, structure your message so it achieve the result you seek. The motivated sequence, developed by Professor Alan H. Monroe is a five-step speech structure that follows people's normal thought patterns, motivating an audience to respond to the speaker's purpose. This sequence can be adapted to almost any topic and persuasive approach you may choose.  
 
 
 

1

Attention. Your opening should seize your audience's attention, direct that attention toward your topic, and make the audience want to listen to what follow. An excellent example is the physician who began a speech by saying, physician who began a speech by saying, "Three out of five people in this room will did of heart disease."  

2

Need. In this step, you state the existing need or problem, explaining why it's important to listeners. Depending on your topic and approach, you may include facts, examples, and illustrations that describe the need and build a solid, logical foundation for the solution you will present.  

3

Satisfaction. Here you present your solution to the need or problem. After stating your proposal and explaining it clearly, show how it meets the need. Support your position with evidence and, if necessary, overcome objections or opposing solutions.  

4

Visualization. In this step, you draw a picture of future conditions, intensifying audience commitment to your position. Show how things will be once your proposal is adopted or what might happen if the audience rejects your solution.  

5

Action. Your final step is to turn the agreement and commitment you've gained into positive or attitude by your listeners.  

 
 

Here's brief example that illustrates Monroe's motivated sequence: 
 
 
 

Attention

 "Our rapidly escalating property taxes are supporting a spending spree by our legislature." 

Need 

"Property taxes must be lowered and government  spending brought under control."

Satisfaction

"Proposition X will reduce property taxes and limit government spending in Ohio."  

Visualization

"If this proposition fails, our taxes will continue to escalate, and many people will lose their homes."  

Action

 "Vote 'yes' on Proposition X." 

 

                                                          
Your Emotional Appeal  
Up to this point, we have focused on the rational part of your persuasive speech. Don't forget the emotional component - few people are persuaded by logic alone. Throughout your speech, work to build strong audience feeling toward your cause.  

Your Evaluation  
To be successful in completing this project, you must use all of the skills you've learned. Speak with directness and conviction. Organize your message carefully. Use body language and vocal variety to strengthen your message, and pay attention to the words you use. Avoid using notes, because they will detract from the audience's feeling that you've mastered your topic. Your evaluator will expect you to demonstrate your own commitment to the point of view you advocate. You will also be expected to appeal to your audience's self-interest, show that you have carefully analyzed your audience, build a logical appeal, and motivate strong emotional feeling among 

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