Persuasive speech outline

- using Monroe's Motivated Sequence

The persuasive speech outline below uses the 5 step pattern called Monroe's Motivated Sequence.

This method of arranging material forms the basis for many of the successful political, public awareness or advertising campaigns you see and hear around you on a daily basis. Why? Because it faithfully follows the psychology of persuasion.

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About Monroe's Motivated Sequence

The pattern or steps mirror those identified as being part of the normal thinking processes that occur whenever a person is confronted by a problem.

Because the steps are perceived as reasonable, using them prepares and motivates an audience to respond positively to the speaker's message.

The sequence is named after the person who first identified and used it: Alan H Monroe who taught public speaking at Purdue University, USA.


Step overview

In developing your persuasive speech outline you will follow these 5 steps:

  1. Attention
    Grab the audience's attention
  2. Need
    Establish there is a problem (need) demanding their attention
  3. Satisfaction
    Outline a solution to the problem
  4. Visualization
    Show the audience how they will benefit from your solution
  5. Action
    Provide the impetus and means to act
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Now let's examine those steps more closely. As you read through start thinking about your audience and your topic and jot any ideas down for later use.


Monroe's motivated sequence -5 steps

Getting attention

Monroes Motived Sequence -Step 1 Attention

This step is your 'listen up' call. To make it effective it needs to grab the audience. It could be any of the following:

  • a startling statement
  • a rhetorical question
  • a quotation
  • a funny story
  • a dramatic story
  • a photograph or other visual aid

Consider 'What's in it for me?' while deciding on your attention getter.
Why should your audience listen? Is it relevant to them? How?
Why should they believe what you say? Have you established your credibility?

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Establish the need

Monroes Motived Sequence -Step 2 Need

This step develops the need for change. Now that you have your audience's attention you will clearly show them what the problem is and the extent of it.

To be effective use:

  • examples to illustrate how it impacts on them - their happiness,future, health, family, neighborhood...
  • statistics - facts, figures, graphs, diagrams...
    Remember to cite your sources and remember too that some are more credible than others. You need recognized sources to give your speech the credibility you want.
  • expert witness testimony - the more authoritative, the better

Your goal at the conclusion of this step is to have your audience eager to hear your solution. They agree with you that there is a problem and want the answer.

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Satisfy the need

Monroes Motived Sequence -Step 3  Satisfaction

Now you outline your answer or solution and show the audience how it will work.

To do this well:

  • outline your solution succinctly
  • demonstrate how it meets the problem
  • use examples to show how effective it is
  • support with facts, figures, graphs, diagrams, statistics, testimony...
  • if there is known opposition to your solution, acknowledge and counteract showing how your plan overturns it

The ideal outcome of this step is the audience saying to themselves: 'Yes. This is possible, practical and sensible.'

Your answer should give them
'satisfaction'.

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See the future

Monroes Motived Sequence -Step 4  Visualization

In this step the audience 'experiences' the solution. They see (feel, hear, taste...) what will happen if they do as you are suggesting contrasted against what will happen if they don't do as you are suggesting.

This step relies on your use of vivid imagery to portray the outcome of their action or inaction. They see and feel the pleasure or pain in their imagination. To bring it home to your audience the pictures you provide, the stories you tell, need to be relevant and believable.

What you want folk thinking as you conclude this step is: 'I can see that this would be good for me.'

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Take action

Monroes Motived Sequence -Step 5 Action

In this last step you present your call to action.

The call to action can be embedded in any combination of the following:

  • a summary
  • a quotation
  • a challenge or appeal
  • an example
  • a personal statement of intent

To be effective the action step must be readily doable and executed as soon as possible. Make it as easy as you can for your audience. If you want them to sign up for something, have the forms available. If you wish them to lodge a personal protest in writing to your local government have stock letters and envelopes ready. In other words do the leg work for them!

Action steps that are delayed even for 48 hours are less likely to be acted on. We're human - life goes on. Other things intervene and the initial urgency is lost.

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Fitting the standard speech format

If you are wondering how these 5 steps of Monroe's Motivated Sequence fit into the standard 3 part speech format, they go like this:

  1. Steps 1 and 2 (Attention and Need) form the Introduction
  2. Steps 3 and 4 (Satisfaction and Visualization) form the Body
  3. Step 5 (Action) is the Conclusion

Download a persuasive speech outline template

And now download and print a blank ready-to-complete persuasive speech outline template. You'll find the entire process laid out clearly, ready for you to fill in the gaps.


More persuasive speech resources

Want to read a persuasive speech example?
This speech follows the sequence outlined on this page. Be warned. The topic is sombre; the affect of suicide on family and friends.

Maybe you haven't got the persuasive speech topic you want yet?

Check these pages:

- 50 great persuasive speech ideas 

- 50 good persuasive speech topics

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