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Public Speaking – Example of a Persuasive Speech Outline to Sway the Audience’s Opinion

You may want to persuade an audience to DO something, or you may want to prove to them that something is TRUE. But, there may times when you want to sway your audience to your point of VIEW, that a choice is desirable or is better than other options. To organize such a talk (sometimes called the “Value” method), you still have the three parts of a speech – the intro, body, and conclusion. But the difference is in the Body. The Main Points of your talk would have two or ideally three points: (1) Establish criteria or ideal standards to define your proposal. (2) Measure your proposal against those standards. And if you want to persuade that your choice is better than other options, then (3) compare how your proposal measures up to other options.

To see how this organization would work when you want to persuade your audience to your point of VIEW, let’s use the example of persuading them that swimming is the best form of exercise. Let’s say the group wants to get into an exercise program – they’ve already decided they’re going to DO some kind of exercise. You want to persuade them that swimming is the best choice, better than running or biking or yoga. Here’s how you might outline that presentation:

I. INTRO

A. HOOK: Get their attention and interest. You might share a funny personal anecdote about swimming, how much you hated lessons when you were a kid and how you almost drowned the instructor one time when you jumped blindly off the diving board because you were so scared.And today, you’re like a fish in the water.

B. REASON TO LISTEN: “It’s been clearly established that exercise is crucial for our fitness and weight loss. We all know we will look better, feel better and be healthier if we exercise regularly. Yet it hasn’t been established exactly what the best form of exercise is… But I believe I know the answer… “

II. BODY

A. ROAD MAP: I’d like to show you all the fantastic benefits of swimming, so you can see it’s the best choice for your exercise plan.

B. MAIN POINTS:

1. The criteria or “ideal” standards for your proposal:

Present to the audience (or even get them to contribute) the characteristics of the ideal exercise program. For example, you might suggest its characteristics might be a good cardiovascular workout, help you lose weight, be easy on your joints, strengthen and tone all your major muscle groups, and build strong bones.

2. Measure your proposal against those standards.

Show how swimming fulfills those criteria: it’s a great aerobic workout, especially if you can swim for at least 30 minutes; it’s easy on your joints because of the cushioning effect of the water; because it calls for use of your arms and legs and back, it works all the muscle groups, and it’s overall conditioning and aerobic effect helps keep your weight down. Build strong bones? Well, not really, so we can’t claim that one.

3. Compare how your proposal measures up to other options, in this case running, biking and yoga. (Plot this visually, if you can. On a chart, list of all the criteria on the left, and then have columns for each form of exercise:

Aerobic Swimming Running Biking Yoga

Lose Weight

Easy on Joints

All Muscle Groups

Strong Bones

For each exercise, check the criteria that apply to it. You would want to have more checkmarks in the column for your proposal, of course!)

“You can see that swimming meets more of the criteria for good exercise than these other forms. It is a healthy and fun way to stay fit!”

III. CONCLUSION

A. SUMMARY: Wrap up with reviewing the criteria and how your proposal measures up to them and compares favorably with others.

B. CLOSE/CALL TO ACTION: “So you can see that swimming is better all-round exercise than these other forms. If you want a good workout that’s good for your heart, lungs, muscles, joints and weight management, I urge you to buy your swim suit and goggles and get in the swim!”