DELIVERING THE PERSUASIVE SPEECH

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The Audience and Context for the Speech

A speaker will need to use different techniques to connect with an audience of 1500 than they would with an audience of 15. Similarly, different techniques will be applied when communicating with teenagers as opposed to communicating with corporate leaders.

  • Where and when is the speech being delivered?
  • What are the key demographic features of the audience? Technical? Students? Elderly? Athletes? Business leaders?
  • How large is the audience?
  • In addition to the live audience, is there an external target audience? (e.g. on the Internet or mass media)

Speech Content and Structure

The content of the speech should be selected and organized to achieve the primary speech objective. Focus is important — extraneous information can weaken an otherwise effective argument.

Before the Speech

  • Were there other speakers before this one? Were their messages similar, opposed, or unrelated?
  • How was the speaker introduced? Was it appropriate?
  • Did the introduction establish why the audience should listen tothis speaker with this topic at this time?
  • What body language was demonstrated by the speaker as they approached the speaking area? Body language at this moment will often indicate their level of confidence.

The Speech Opening

Due to the primacy effect, words, body language, and visuals in the speech opening are all critical to speaking success.

  • Was a hook used effectively to draw the audience into the speech? Or did the speaker open with a dry “It’s great to be here today.
  • Did the speech open with a story? A joke? A startling statistic? A controversial statement? A powerful visual?
  • Did the speech opening clearly establish the intent of the presentation?
  • Was the opening memorable?

The Speech Body

  • Was the presentation focused? i.e. Did all arguments, stories, anecdotes relate back to the primary objective?
  • Were examples or statistics provided to support the arguments?
  • Were metaphors and symbolism use to improve understanding?
  • Was the speech organized logically? Was it easy to follow?
  • Did the speaker bridge smoothly from one part of the presentation to the next?

The Speech Conclusion

Like the opening, the words, body language, and visuals in the speech conclusion are all critical to speaking success. This is due to the recency effect.

  • Was the conclusion concise?
  • Was the conclusion memorable?
  • If appropriate, was there a call-to-action?

Delivery Skills and Techniques

Delivery skills are like a gigantic toolbox — the best speakers know precisely when to use every tool and for what purpose.

Enthusiasm and Connection to the Audience

  • Was the speaker enthusiastic? How can you tell?
  • Was there audience interaction? Was it effective?
  • Was the message you– and we-focused, or was it I- and mefocused?

Humour

  • Was humour used?
  • Was it safe and appropriate given the audience?
  • Were appropriate pauses used before and after the punch lines, phrases, or words?
  • Was it relevant to the speech?

Visual Aids

  • Were they designed effectively?
  • Did they complement speech arguments?
  • Was the use of visual aids timed well with the speaker’s words?
  • Did they add energy to the presentation or remove it?
  • Were they simple and easy to understand?
  • Were they easy to see? e.g. large enough
  • Would an additional visual aid help to convey the message?

Use of Stage Area

  • Did the speaker make appropriate use of the speaking area?

Physical – Gestures and Eye Contact

  • Did the speaker’s posture display confidence and poise?
  • Were gestures natural, timely, and complementary?
  • Were gestures easy to see?
  • Does the speaker have any distracting mannerisms?
  • Was eye contact effective in connecting the speaker to the whole audience?

Vocal Variety

  • Was the speaker easy to hear?
  • Were loud and soft variations used appropriately?
  • Was the pace varied? Was it slow enough overall to be understandable?
  • Were pauses used to aid understandability, heighten excitement, or provide drama?

Language

  • Was the language appropriate for the audience?
  • Did the speaker articulate clearly?
  • Were sentences short and easy to understand?
  • Was technical jargon or unnecessarily complex language used?
  • What rhetorical devices were used? e.g. repetition, alliteration, the rule of three, etc.

Intangibles

Sometimes, a technically sound speech can still miss the mark. Likewise, technical deficiencies can sometimes be overcome to produce a must-see presentation. The intangibles are impossible to list, but here are a few questions to consider:

  • How did the speech make you feel?
  • Were you convinced?
  • Would you want to listen to this speaker again?
  • Were there any original ideas or techniques?

Evaluating speeches takes time and practice. Do not be put off by the fact that you will probably find that, the first few times, you cannot answer all the questions. Like all the other skills we learn in life, constant practice makes the process easier and easier. So try it – not once, but many times. You will be surprised at how quickly you learn to spot the good and poor elements of the speeches you listen to – whether they are sermons in church, presentations given by your colleagues at work, or the speeches of politicians or other professionals.

CONCLUSION

There are lots of things to consider and understand prior to writing a persuasive speech. In order to influence others, you have to understand the subject, and understand the audience’s perception of the subject. Moving around also helps because it enables all of the audience to get an emotional response. Indeed, persuasive speeches require that you develop a written piece of work that includes the basic introduction of your topic, the arguments for your topic, and the arguments against your topic. You should always have supportive evidence developed from sources, and even be prepared to discuss your topic with the audience after the persuasive speech.

In this article, we discussed the way of changing or reinforcing attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviour. We also examined the development of a persuasive speech as regards choosing a topic and choosing a purpose. Meanwhile, three persuasive strategies were postulated: logos, pathos, and ethos. Finally, we studied Monroe’s motivated sequence, and how to evaluate a speech.

 

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