Chapter 9: Persuasive Speaking

Formats for Persuasive Speeches


Depending on your goals, there will be a standard format that makes the most sense for you to use to achieve your purpose. In a situation where you seek to alter beliefs and attitudes, you will often choose a speech that sets forth a problem and the solution.

Several times in this course, we have argued that when you stand up to speak, it is important that you are the expert in the room. If you know the facts, you are perceived as credible on the topic. This is of paramount importance when you speak to persuade. In many such cases, you come to the speaking situation because you care about the topic as well. Outside of class, people don’t give speeches as an academic exercise but because they care. Many speeches have been delivered because speakers are passionate about issues, such as:

  • The people in the Sudan are being killed
  • The people in New Orleans are without homes
  • Half of Americans go to bed hungry

Because we care, we can come to class and articulate the problem. Our goal is to convince the audience that the problem is real. We use the three forms of proof -ethos, pathos, and logos -to intensify or change the beliefs of the audience, so they will be receptive when we present the solution to the problem. Political speeches often take this form: “There is a problem in Washington, and it is the other party. Elect me, and I will cure the problems. ”

You would use a problem-solution format when there might be multiple solutions to the problem that you articulate. For example, you identify a worldwide problem of global warming. You express your feeling that the solution is to reduce our use of coal in industry. You may also believe that another possible solution is for everyone to drive a hybrid car that gets sixty miles per gallon.


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