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Persuasion Speech Techniques In The College Classroom

Dianna is a writer with a background in education and business. She writes to inspire and encourage others.

Many careers require persuasive speaking skills in order to enlist others to act on a message. Practice makes perfect!

Many careers require persuasive speaking skills in order to enlist others to act on a message. Practice makes perfect!

The Psychology of Persuasion

To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful. —Edward R. Murrow, Radio Broadcaster/Journalist

Changing people's beliefs is quite a challenge in public speaking platforms and requires presentation of ethical and sound argument while persuading your audience to consider your view. Many careers necessitate the ability to speak persuasively in order to enlist others to act on the message. We are all accustomed to the persuasive speeches given by such professions as lawyers, public relations specialists, and sales representatives. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines persuasion as: to move by argument, entreaty, or expostulation to a belief, position, or course of action. This is definitely the goal in teaching college students to acquire the art of persuasion in public speaking.

The psychological process of persuasion exists when two or more view points exist. You can imagine the controversy and opposition involved when a speaker addresses an audience on a topic such as The Need For Red Light Camera Ticketing Enforcement. The audience adoption of your point will depend upon your ability to influence others who may possess a strong value, attitude and belief against your argument.

Resource On The Art Of Persuasion

Classroom Exercise On Persuasion

As an introduction to persuasive speech, I have students form groups of two and give them a stack of cards listing opposite word meanings. For example, one set will have "up" on the first card and "down" on the second. Each person will argue his or her word (or topic) is better than the other for one minute.

The exercise gives them practice on the art of persuasion. Often one student will convince the other he or she is right. It is amusing to watch, but it effectively conveys the message that some people are easily persuaded through factual and clear argument. The video in this article was taken during one of our classroom sessions. It is a good example of how this exercise encourages dialogue defending strong preference on a position or about a belief.

Persuasion Speech Exercise: Cat Versus Dog

Ideas For Persuasion Card Exercise

Card 1Card 2







Rippled Potato Chip

Plain Potato Chip



Renting a home

Owning a home

Owning a car

Using public transporation



Let Us Know

Monroe's Motivated Sequence

Alan Monroe, a professor of speech at Purdue University, developed a five-step method of organizing persuasive speech. The steps focus on attention, need, satisfaction, visualization, and action. This method of persuasion is often preferred over others because it is structured and guides the audience to a desired action. It is widely used in advertising and is quite effective in creating a sense of obligation in the listener to take action on the message.

I use this method in speech class because it easy to understand and useful in developing strong presentation skills. As further reinforcement of this process, I give a homework assignment having each student watch a television commercial for the sequence of this persuasion method. Using the learning from the assignment, students can identify the steps readily and apply the structure to their speech outline.


Subjects of Emotional Appeal

  • Fear: Natural Disaster, Sexual Assault, Economic Hardship
  • Compassion: Battered Women, Animal Abuse, Starvation or Famine, AIDS Victims
  • Pride: Family, School, Ethnic Heritage, Personal Accomplishment, Country
  • Anger: Terrorism, Political Issues, Theft
  • Guilt: The Homeless, Personal and Social Ethical Standards
  • Reverence: Personal Claims, Faith, Leadership

Emotional Appeal In Marketing (Persuasive Sales)

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. An advertised savings stating "up to" saves me the maximum amount.
    • Yes
    • No
  2. All items advertised as "limited edition" are valid claims.
    • Yes
    • No
  3. People are more likely to buy something from a smooth talker.
    • Yes
    • No
  4. General questions or small talk with sales people often influences customers to purchase an item
    • Yes
    • No

Answer Key

  1. No
  2. No
  3. Yes
  4. Yes

Persusion Methods That Motivate Listeners


A speaker's competence and character influence an audience to accept the message. Credibility is established in the mind of the listener, it is an attitude towards the speaker's method of presentation. Before a speaker even opens her or his mouth, the audience has already formed an opinion of the topic. The speech must be presented to influence through the speaker's knowledge and expertise of the subject. The speaker must establish trust with the listener through the facts given and sincerity shown during the message. Often this can be accomplished by establishing common ground with the audience, or by sharing from personal experience on the topic.


The use of supporting material to prove or disprove an idea or topic is crucial in establishing credibility with an audience. And this is especially so when the audience opposes the speaker's point of view. A speaker can address these concerns by knowing what types of questions and opposing views may exist in the mind of the listener. Anticipating questions and objections will help to develop a speech with strong supporting evidence.

Statistics, testimonies, and concrete examples are specific evidence that persuade an audience. Using new or novel evidence also is effective in persuading someone to rethink an issue. The presenter must clearly prove his point so that the audience can draw a conclusion based upon the evidence presented.

Scroll to Continue

Emotional Appeal:

Pathos or emotional appeal was first introduced by Aristotle and refers to the human response to emotional appeals such as anger, guilt, fear, happiness, pride, and reverence. Using emotional appeal in a speech helps stir the audience to action. Words can have powerful effects upon people and often makes a speech more compelling. For example, consider how the following statement impacts a listener.

Tara was just a little girl of five when she began to walk with a slight limp. Initially, her mother thought she was pretending to gain her attention. Little did she know that Tara had become infected through a recent mosquito bite while playing outdoors. Her body was quickly deteriorating within, her temperature was rising and she would soon develop uncontrollable seizures. The Center For Disease and Prevention informs parents about the symptoms of the West Nile Virus and how ignoring simple warning signs can lead to serious complications in young children. According to their statistics, the symptoms can appear as soon as three days after a child is bitten.

Of course, students must ensure that they are using ethical standards of emotional appeal to persuade an audience. Research is required to produce strong influence through credible resources. Making statements based upon valid facts and truths builds credibility and leads to audience response and commitment to action.

Persuasion speeches are powerful but a speaker must realize they will not motivate some listeners to action. However, if a speech is built upon ethical, valid, and credible resources, a speaker can sometimes convince even the most strongly opposed individual to at least reconsider their point of view.

© 2012 Dianna Mendez


Dianna Mendez (author) on August 25, 2014:

Oh those dreaded days of speaking in class!! Favored, glad you stopped by. May your day be a good one.

Fay Favored from USA on August 24, 2014:

This took me back to my college days when we had to give several type of speeches including persuasion. It's not as easy to do as one might think. Thanks for the tips and information.

Dianna Mendez (author) on June 27, 2014:

Hi Jackie! It's a fun class and students learn the basics of good public speaking in spite of their fears. Thanks for sharing from your experience. It adds value to the topic. Be well and safe.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on June 22, 2014:

I could have sure used this class Dianna; I tried my best to act calm and collected but I would rush through so fast I laugh right now thinking about it! It isn't funny though and I know these classes do work because my brother-in-law on up in age took one because he had been made boss and all he hated about it was having to talk. lol He did well, too.

Dianna Mendez (author) on April 27, 2014:

jtrader, the emotional appeal is so important in persuasion speeches It pulls the listener in to the possibilities of what they hear.

jtrader on April 20, 2014:

Thanks for sharing these techniques with us. I may use the emotional appeal in the future.

Dianna Mendez (author) on February 18, 2014:

Ubanichijioke, thank you for the kind words. Teaching persuasion methods is my favorite part of speech class. It is fun and the students enjoy the challenge of persuading listeners.

Alexander Thandi Ubani from Lagos on February 18, 2014:

you are a rocking example of perfection, intelligence and great knowledge. this was wonderfully written and most useful. am reading more and am gonna practicalize it to hype my persuasive genius.

awesome job!

Dianna Mendez (author) on February 01, 2014:

donnah, glad you found some ideas to use for teaching. thanks for your support. Blessings!

Donna Hilbrandt from Upstate New York on January 29, 2014:

Wow, this is useful. I like the introductory class exercise. I'll have to try it out. Voted up, useful and bookmarking for future reference. Thanks!

Dianna Mendez (author) on January 09, 2014:

Unverm, the student in the first photo is a natural at public speaking. I know that she will make a big difference whatever and wherever she chooses to apply her skills. It would be a great fun to see her in action now. Thanks for your input and valuable contribution to the article.

unverm on December 26, 2013:

Thanks a lot. Rhetorical is an art and there are big orators throughout the human being's history. I wonder how are their speechs? Could you dig out them in another hub? Thank you again.

Dianna Mendez (author) on November 25, 2013:

Hi Sherry! It is one of my favorite college courses to teach and the persuasion speech is lots of fun for the students. Thanks for your comment and suppor.

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on November 24, 2013:

Very instructive, thank you.

Dianna Mendez (author) on July 27, 2013:

Treasures, thank you for coming in to visit. The persuasion of cats vs dogs is always a fun way to introduce the speech form. Blessings!

Sima Ballinger from Michigan on July 22, 2013:

Great Hub! And yes, the video was amusing about Cats versus Dogs. Thoroughly enjoyed this hub Teaches12345! Up and Useful!

Dianna Mendez (author) on March 22, 2013:

Excellent add to the convesation, Midget; emotional appeal is what really sells others on an idea. Politicians have used it well over the years. Thanks for your support here and enjoy your day.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on March 22, 2013:

Dianna, I would say the emotional appeal is a factor that is very important in becoming persuasive these days. The more you can tap on the feelings of people, the more you can connect-and persuade! Thanks for sharing!

Dianna Mendez (author) on January 22, 2013:

It is a fun class to teach as the students enjoy the challenge of persuasiveness. Thanks, Acaetnna, for your visit and support.

acaetnna from Guildford on January 22, 2013:

A brilliant hub and likely to be very helpful indeed to students trying to use their power of persuasion.

Dianna Mendez (author) on January 10, 2013:

Thank you, Carozy, for your comment and for stopping by today. Be safe and well.

carozy from San Francisco on January 10, 2013:

Well thought out article.

Dianna Mendez (author) on January 04, 2013:

Thank you, Girish, for your positive feedback on the aritle series. I appreciate and value your opinion very much. I am contemplating this suggestion and where to go with it from here. God bless you, friend.

Girish puri from NCR , INDIA on January 04, 2013:

Dianna your every hub can be in good collections, thanks for very interesting look at persuasive speech. God bless.

Dianna Mendez (author) on January 02, 2013:

Rtalloni, glad to hear the positive feedback on your son's speech lessons. This validates the topic! Have a great week.

Peggy, love your grandfathers advice-- I would be chuckling on that technique. High school speech is difficult due to the younger age. Your visit here is a welcome support to me. Take care.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 02, 2013:

I remember taking speech in high school and was so glad when that class ended. As a volunteer counselor in charge of one of our programs, I had to give speeches at certain times and I was nervous in the beginning. It does get easier with practice! I still remember my grandfather telling me to think of all those heads in the audience as a bunch of cabbages. Ha! I could never accomplish that! Of course eye contact is important. Good hub! You gave us much to ponder.

RTalloni on January 02, 2013:

Thanks for an interesting look at persuasive speech. Our son desired to have stronger communication skills and he really benefitted from learning and practicing debate techniques. The information you present here is valuable, with tremendous potential to help people communicate better!

Dianna Mendez (author) on December 26, 2012:

Glimmer, it took me years before I could speak in front of an audience without getting overly nervous. Thanks for coming by. Enjoy your day.

Claudia Porter on December 26, 2012:

I admire people who can speak well in front of others. It is a real talent that I lack. This is a great hub for people who need or want to speak in front of others. Useful hub teaches!

Dianna Mendez (author) on December 25, 2012:

Sounds like you do have a lawyer in the makings. Good debates are a result of critical thinking, problem solving and listening skills -- keep up the good work, Formosangirl. Thanks for your stop here today and hope you are safe and sound this evening.

formosangirl from Los Angeles on December 25, 2012:

Persuasive speaking is important in every walk of life. Today's children learn persuasive speaking early, or maybe ours because we have a lot of banter. It was interesting to listen to my son when he was only nine listing reasons why his viewpoints were correct. Over time, he has gotten even better, and therefore he seems more credible and confident. Sometimes I am ready to send him to law school. Thanks for your informative article. Voted up and useful.

Dianna Mendez (author) on December 24, 2012:

Alocsin, good to hear from you. I believe any talk after twenty minutes is a lecture. Keeping it interesting after twenty is a challenge. Thanks for your insightful comment. Have a great Christmas!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on December 23, 2012:

These are excellent tips. I'm wondering if keeping short is also an essential part of persuasion. When I was a presenter at a science museum, they always advised us to keep our presentations to 20 minutes or less, or break it up into chunks that were that long. Otherwise, we were likely to lose the audience due to boredom. Voting this Up and Useful.

Dianna Mendez (author) on December 22, 2012:

Denise, the woman speaking about her cats is so biased: her cats are the most unique -- in her opinion. We all had a good laugh over their persuasion/debate. It was interesting watching the presidential debates. Both men were really good at making points concerning their viewpoint. Thnkas for validating the hub topic, Denise. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year! Blessings.

Dianna Mendez (author) on December 22, 2012:

Vinaya, so wonderful to see you today. I always appreciate our upbeat comments, they are so encouraging. Have a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. Looking forward to the New Year Hubpage posts!

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on December 22, 2012:

What a great topic, Dianna. I recall when I took a speech class in college. It was quite a learning experience. Your hub holds valuable information about the subject of persuasion. I enjoyed the video and found it interesting watching the two styles of the women who debated which pet was better, a dog or a cat. I recall the presidential debates and who was more persuasive with each debate. Thanks for sharing.

Rated up/U/I and will share. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on December 21, 2012:

Your hubs are always useful and informative. I have learned so much from your works. Thanks for being with me in 2012.

Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Dianna Mendez (author) on December 21, 2012:

Alicia, good to see you today. I imagine it is morning there -- so I'm saying "good morning" and hope it is going well. Thanks for stopping by to comment and for your positive feedback.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 20, 2012:

This is a very interesting hub, Dianna! Your suggestions for ethical persuasion are excellent. There's a lot of food for thought in the hub. Thanks for the information.

Dianna Mendez (author) on December 20, 2012:

Essential in every way, Vellur. If only the news media used this practice! Thanks for adding to the flavor. Blessings!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on December 20, 2012:

Great hub. Persuasive speech is most effective when there is proof and solid background research. Interesting and thought provoking.

Dianna Mendez (author) on December 20, 2012:

Thanks teacherJoe, you are a great teacher and thanks for the lesson. Always a blessing to see you.

Ruchira, so right:speech is an act for the audience to view!

Mhatter, I'll bet you are a great speaker based on your demonstrated wit.

Unknown, enjoy your positive comments here- thanks!

DragonBallSuper on December 20, 2012:

Best hub dianna!! I love reading this.. makes me learn something new.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on December 19, 2012:

Thank you for this. I was an orator for the masons.

Ruchira from United States on December 19, 2012:

Well said with good examples, dianna.

Speech is not just rambling anymore, the speaker got to keep the audience focussed on him.

Interesting hub and useful too.

Sharing it across

teacherjoe52 on December 19, 2012:

Good morning teaches.

Very good method.

I like to get them in gropus with one group debating for and one against.

For example: If it is rush hour and you are sitting on a bus. An old man or woman gets on the bus. Should you give them your seat? You are going to work, they are retired and going to the park for Tai Chi. They do not have to be on the bus during rush hour. Why should you give up your seat? There are some great debates and makes them think.

God bless you to expand the minds and hearts of your students.

Dianna Mendez (author) on December 19, 2012:

Faith, I can only imagine how those marbles made students extra nervous, but it was effective. Thanks, dear one, for contributing to the topic. God bless you and Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Janine, it does all work when you take the time to perfect the techniques. Thanks for your support. Enjoy your day.

Bill, writing is much more pleasant and satisfying! Thanks for your comment and support.

Cleaner3, thanks for the feedback on this topic. Enjoyed your visit here today.

Phdast7, your family is one of the rare treasures in public speaking - natural talent. Blessings and Merry Christmas!

Dr BJ, your AIDA is similar and it helps to remember the key points. I will have to use it as well when speaking. Enjoy your evening.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on December 19, 2012:

Very interesting hub, Dianna, and it will be most helpful to anyone who may be concerned about using persuasive techniques when making a speech. When I give speeches or create marketing materials I use a similar approach with AIDA: get Attention, build Interest, create Desire, move (folks) to Action. Works for me!

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on December 19, 2012:

Very interesting and well written. I come from a family of gifted speakers and presenters, but I never took a speech or debate class and this hub lays things out very nicely. I shall see how I can apply these concepts to help my students. Blessings!

cleaner3 from Pueblo, Colorado on December 19, 2012:

great hub .. I took public speaking class and this is a great teaching tool for others .. with a little more emphasis on the persuasion techniques. .. great hub.


Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 19, 2012:

Very nice explanation! Yes, I had to do this and yes, I was terrified. Now I find it so much easier writing rather than speaking. :) Great job Dianna!

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on December 19, 2012:

We actually did this in one of my education classes and it does work ver nicely. Great job explaining and laying it out here Dianna. Have of course voted and shared, too!!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on December 18, 2012:

Very interesting and persuasive methods of speech here. Wow, there is a lot packed into this hub for one to think on and put into practice.

I remember dreading having to get up and make a speech in college, especially when the professor sat in the back of the room with an empty coffee can and a bag of marbles? What in the world . . . his method was to make us all very much aware of how many "ums" we used and long pauses we had while giving our little speeches. Each time one had one or the other . . . a loud CLANG went into the coffee can, as he would drop a marble into the can. Well, I believe I was the Queen of the long pauses and "ums." Ha. It did, however, make one very much aware of one's speech habits and it did help to break those habits.

I have gotten over my fear of public speaking pretty much now, as I was oh so shy when I was young. There are those who seem to be naturals at the art of persuasion.

Voted up +++ and sharing

God bless. Merry Christmas. In His Love, Faith Reaper

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