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COMM 111 Communication in Society: Research for Persuasive Assignments

Library Databases

The Persuasive speech provides the audience with an overview or introduction to a topic or issue in an attempt to persuade the audience members to believe a certain way, or take a specific action. The resources listed below will assist the researcher in gathering the resources necessary to draft the persuasive speech:

Persuasive Patterns

A. Problem-Solving : used in both informative and persuasion settings

In the persuasion setting, the speaker's objective is to communicate to the audience that there is a problem and to propose a plan of action or advocate a change in policy.

B. Monroe's Motivated Sequence : a five-step process to prompt (motivate) people to respond/act

  • Attention - draw audience's attention to the topic/issue
  • Need - state the problem, provide examples, provide a relationship between the audience and the problem
  • Satisfaction - show effects of problem on the audience, provide a solution
  • Visualization - encourage audience to consider the future -- e.g., "This is what will happen if we don't act."; "This is will happen if we do act."
  • Action - provide reasons for action, steps for action, and call to act

C. Direct Method or, Statement of Reasons : make a claim, and provide several points of support for claim

Used most often in cases in which the audience is viewed as either apathetic or neutral.

D. Comparative Advantages : arguing pros/cons (advantages/disadvantages) of one idea (policy) over another.

E. Criteria Satisfaction : establishes the standard (criteria) by which the speaker, solution, product is being judged, and whether the speaker, solution, or product meets or exceeds the standards

F. Negative Method : concentrate on failings of other proposals before revealing how your proposal is the better option

Information summarized from Chapter 17 of Clella Jaffe's Public Speaking: Concepts and Skills for a Diverse Society. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomas Wadsworth, 2007. Print.

The Legwork Behind the Speech

Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site


A. Topic Selection

Decide what issue(s) align with your beliefs, what is it you will argue for? What makes you angry, sad, empathetic? What are current problems in society I would like to see changed? How can I make life more meaningful for others and myself?

B. Claim Selection

What is the assertion/claim you wish to argue/present?

  • Factual : arguing what does/does not exist, what has led to a current situation, or what will/will not happen. Validity of such claims assessed as true or false, correct or incorrect, yes or no.
  • Classification of Definition : definition of terminology to lay the foundation for understanding one's perspective or approach
  • Value : using the basis of right or wrong, moral or immoral, ugly or beautiful to state one's position and make a case for action or inaction
  • Policy : imploring action or inaction by either individuals or groups (example: human trafficking, child soldiers, black market human organ trade)

C. Narrowing Your Purpose

"While the general purpose is to persuade, narrow it more specifically in light of what your listeners already know and do, how they feel, and what they value." (p.315)

Focusing on Beliefs and Actions :

Logical appeals; build a factual case using credible sources

  • Be competent in your knowledge of the facts; respect listeners' intelligence and beliefs
  • Use few emotional appeals
  • Provide compelling reasons to act
  • Provide a specific steps to a plan
  • Use logical appeals to support faltering or waivering beliefs
  • Appeal to emotions, such as honesty and sincerity, when a change in behavior is desired
  • Appeal to the positivity of listeners' accomplishments
  • Relate to fundamental beliefs and values

Focusing on Values :

  • Define the criteria used to make your evaluation
  • Use emotional appeals to help listeners identify with the issue
  • Appeal to authority (importance of source credibility), but also to cultural norms and traditions

Focusing on Attitudes :

  • Establish common ground; strenghten positive attitudes toward topic through use of connotative words, and appealing to needs and values
  • Present factual information to lay the groundwork for uninformed audiences
  • Ask the "why" question (if audience appears to be neutral or apathetic toward topic)
  • Approach topic directly (in cases where audience may slightly differ from your position); use objective data, positive elements, and link to personal and community values
  • Be clear on points so negative audience can understand process and conclusions
  • Approach topic indirectly by finding common ground when speaking to an audience rejecting your message

Information summarized from Chapter 17 of Clella Jaffe's Public Speaking: Concepts and Skills for a Diverse Society. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomas Wadsworth, 2007. Print.