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Writing a persuasive speech
Persuasive speech outline
- using Monroe's Motivated Sequence
By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 04-28-2019 | First published: 05-01-2011 |
The persuasive speech outline below uses the classic 5 step pattern called Monroe's Motivated Sequence.
This method of organizing material forms the basis of 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. In a nutshell, it works!
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About Monroe's Motivated Sequence
The pattern, or steps, of the sequence mirror those identified as being the
normal thinking processes that occur whenever a person is confronted by a
Because the steps are perceived as reasonable and logical using them prepares and motivates an audience to respond positively to the speaker's message.
The sequence is named after Alan H Monroe who taught public speaking at Purdue University, USA.
Overview of Monroe's 5 step motivation sequence
In developing your persuasive speech outline you will follow these 5 steps:
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Grab the audience's attention
Establish there is a problem (need) demanding their attention
Outline a solution to the problem
Show the audience how they will benefit from your solution
Provide the impetus and means to act
The five steps in more detail
Now let's examine those steps more closely.
To make the process easier to follow I've prepared a simple example speech illustrating each step and the transitions between them. That's the text in the green boxes.
As you read start
thinking about your audience and your topic. Jot any ideas down for
Persuasive speech outline example
About this sample speech - topic, purpose and audience
The subject is fear of public speaking.
The specific purpose of the speech is to encourage people in the audience to take a course to overcome their fear of public speaking.
The central idea of the speech is that the ability to speak in public opens doors to many
The audience is drawn from the local community. They range from late teens to middle aged.
The 5 steps of Monroe's motivation sequence
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Getting attention - step 1
This step is your introductory "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
Put yourself in the position of your audience when deciding how to hook and hold their attention. Why should they listen to you? How does what you have to say benefit them? Is it relevant to them? How?
Step one - attention
Do you know the real costs of public speaking fear?
The price is high.
Research reveals that a person with public speaking fear is 10% less likely to graduate from college, is likely to receive 10% less in wages and is 15% less likely to take on management or leadership positions.
Who pays? Us. You. Me. Anybody who allows fear to govern their decision making. We pay by sacrificing our potential selves, putting our dreams away and settling for less.
As well as getting their attention you also need to establish your credibility or right to talk on the subject. Your audience needs to know that they can believe what you're telling them. If they feel they can trust your expertise and experience they will be much more likely to follow your lead.
That’s a question I asked myself a long time ago. As a teacher with many years of experience I
saw far too many students who would do anything they could to avoid
public speaking. To answer it I researched.
Then I used those
answers to devise public speaking programs that were effective and fun.
Transition - the link from step 1 to step 2
Can you imagine the positive impact
feeling OK about speaking up would have? On individuals?
On families? On
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Establish the need - step 2
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.
Step two – Need
A. According to
frequently cited statistics 75% of people suffer from some degree of
glossophobia - fear of speaking in public.
Source: Hamilton, C. (2008) . Communicating for Results, a Guide for Business and the Professions (eighth edition)
the extreme upper end of this very large group are the people who would
literally run a mile rather than speak. For example, they will not
apply for promotions if the new position means giving presentations. They will not give a speech at a special family occasion - a wedding, birthday or funeral. Public speaking makes them ill, literally. There
maybe quite a few of you here, so you’ll know exactly what I mean.
the other end of the scale are the people who have one or two butterflies
fluttering around – enough to make them register they’re a
little nervous about speaking but it’s nothing to worry about. There’s
likely not so many of you here. If you have come along, it’s
probably to support someone who needs it! Thank you.
majority of us are
somewhere in the middle where it’s neither all fine nor all bad.
Some days are OK. We
manage. And some days it’s definitely not OK. We
just hang in there by the skin of our chattering teeth.
B. Bad public speaking experiences often lead to more of the same.
focus on the
received and interpret it
as a criticism of ourselves. Our speech is bad therefore I am bad.
This makes a shaky platform to build public speaking skills and
When given a presentation to prepare we procrastinate because we
don’t feel confident or competent. That means we don’t put the
work in which in turn leads to another bad experience. It becomes a
When we feel ashamed about ourselves we often close off. We don’t
ask for help and it becomes easier to expect less of ourselves and
- Here's those stats again. According
to Franklin Schneier, MD, someone
with public speaking fear
is likely to receive 10%
less in wages, be 10% more likely to drop out of college and be
likely to apply for leadership or management roles.
C. Begins in youth.
- “The fear of
public speaking is more common in younger patients as compared to
older ones and may be more prevalent in females as compared to
males,” says Jeffrey R. Strawn, MD, FAACAP, associate professor of
psychiatry and pediatrics and director of the Anxiety Disorders
Research Program in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral
Neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati.
- More than 75%
of people experience their first symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
which often includes fear of public speaking during their childhood
or early teenage years - American Psychiatric Association. (2014).
Understanding Mental Disorders
- Let’s conduct
a quick informal survey to test that– raise your hand if any
anxiety you feel about public speaking began when you were young.
Transition - the link between step 2 and step 3
However there is a way to break this pattern of anxiety. It can be
stopped, and everyone who wants to can learn to speak in public
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Satisfy the need - step 3
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 nodding and saying to themselves: "Yes. This is possible, practical and sensible." Your answer satisfies them. It gives them "satisfaction".
Step three - Satisfaction
A. Come along to an introductory course
- It's free, led by experienced teachers and especially designed for people with a history of being nervous about speaking in public.
- Once a week for 4 weeks you'll have 2 hours of practical public speaking training and practice.
- You'll learn tips and tricks to manage your anxiety, to give varying types of presentations, to effectively structure a speech, and to confidently deliver a speech.
B. When people overcome fear of public speaking there are so many
things they can do:
Complete their college education and go on to further study if they
Apply for the positions they know would give them greater work
Speak up when they need to about issues concerning themselves, their
family and their community
others to follow their
public speaking fear for confidence will help people to:
Communicate more effectively
Listen more carefully to others
Understand the power of the spoken word and what it can achieve
Transition - the link between step 3 and step 4
Can you imagine the positive impact
that would have on people’s lives? Maybe yours?
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See the future - step 4
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."
Step four -Visualization
A. Imagine what society would be like if everyone took full
advantage of the educational opportunities that best fitted their
interests and abilities. How would that feel?
would be much
dissatisfaction and social unrest caused by people working in
positions that do not pay
very well or extend their
skills and well being. That
would be much more healthy: physically,
emotionally and mentally, for
ask for a raise! Apply for that job you always wanted! Give a
presentation! Toast your bride!
- It would
generate a ripple effect. People who speak up confidently and
competently encourage others to do likewise. People would feel
empowered – free to become the best of themselves - shoulders back, head up, standing tall, looking the world straight in the eye!
disadvantages could there possibly be?
Perhaps it could uncomfortable for those who have got used to
assuming the right to talk for others without consultation. Is that
really a bad thing?
Perhaps it could lead to robust conversations where there are
differing opinions over issues? Again, is that a bad thing? It could be an
opportunity to polish debating skills.
There are no real disadvantages! Overcoming public speaking fear is
good for everyone. A win-win.
Transition - the link from step 4 to step 5
Let’s do more than imagine
speaking in public freely and competently. Let’s take the steps
towards making it happen.
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Take action - step 5
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.
Step five – Action
Apparently 3/4 of us – 75%, are nervous about public
speaking – often the result of a bad experience when were young.
That has a direct impact on our adult lives. If we allow it to
continue it is likely we will be paid less, fall out of college
without graduating and settle for less-challenging jobs. In short –
live a lesser life. However it doesn’t have to be like that. We
could choose to change. We could become our bigger and best selves.
B. (Call to Immediate Action)
We could, in the
famous words of Susan Jeffers, "Feel the fear and do it anyway!"
I’ve got enrollment
forms here for that free introductory public speaking course. That’s
four two hour sessions over the next four weeks using tried, tested and
proven methods of teaching with experienced instructors. You’ll
learn how to prepare and deliver speeches. And you'll swap fear for confidence and competence while having
C. (Memorable Close)
Who knows what magic may happen once you speak up!
There are 15 places
available. Make one of them yours.
- Rosemary Black. (2018, June 4) Glossophobia (Fear of Public Speaking): Are You Glossophobic? Retrieved from https://www.psycom.net/glossophobia-fear-of-public-speaking
- Franklin Schneier. (2005) Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from http://www.columbia.edu/itc/hs/medical/psychmed2/3_2005/Schneier-SocialAnxietyDisorderBW.pdf
- Author and date of publication unknown. Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/social-anxiety-disorder
- Doug Staneart. (2018, March). Podcast 29 - How to Scare the Gooey Out of a Nervous Public Speaker. Retrieved from https://www.fearlesspresentations.com/how-to-scare-the-gooey-out-of-a-new-public-speaker/
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:
- Step 1 (Attention) forms the Introduction.
- Steps 2, 3 and 4 (Need, Satisfaction and Visualization) form the Body.
- 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 5 step process laid out clearly, ready for you to fill in the gaps.
More persuasive speech resources
A sample persuasive speech
Want to read a persuasive speech example?
This example speech ("After they're gone") follows the sequence outlined on this page.
Before you click through to it you should know the topic is somber; the impact of suicide on family and friends. I wrote it to persuade those in need to seek and accept help and to raise awareness of the issues around suicide.