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Persuasive speech outline

- using Monroe's Motivated Sequence

By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 04-11-2019 | First published: 05-01-2011 |

The persuasive speech outline explained below is 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. It works!

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About Monroe's Motivated Sequence

Alan H Monroe - originator of Monroe's Motivated Sequence

The pattern, or steps, of the sequence 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 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:

  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.

The 5 steps of Monroe's motivation sequence 

Getting attention - step 1

Monroes Motived Sequence -Step 1 Attention

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

Consider "What's in it for me?" when deciding on your attention-getter.
Why should your audience listen? Is it relevant to them? How?

Establishing credibility

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. 

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Establish the need - step 2

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 - step 3

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 nodding and saying to themselves: "Yes. This is possible, practical and sensible."  Your answer satisfies them. It gives them "satisfaction".

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See the future - step 4

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 - step 5

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. Step 1 (Attention) forms the Introduction.
  2. Steps 2,  3 and 4 (Need, 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 5 step process laid out clearly, ready for you to fill in the gaps.

More persuasive speech resources

Want to read a persuasive speech example?
This sample persuasive speech follows the sequence outlined on this page.

Before you click through you should know the topic is somber; the impact of suicide on family and friends.

Persuasive speech topics

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

Check these pages:

- 100 great persuasive speech ideas 

- 50 good persuasive speech topics

105 fun persuasive speech topics