Mastering Persuasive Speech

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A teacher talking in front of students.

Mastering Persuasive Speech

Persuasive speech is an essential aspect of the school curriculum, where students are taught to express their views convincingly and influence their audience.

These speeches aim to persuade the listeners to adopt a specific point of view, take a particular action, or change their behavior on a specific issue. They offer an opportunity for students to showcase their critical thinking, research, and public speaking skills and help them develop confidence, empathy, and leadership abilities.

In addition, students learn to articulate their thoughts clearly, use persuasive techniques, and address diverse audiences. This skill is crucial today, where effective communication is a prerequisite for success in various fields.

What is a persuasive speech?

This type of communication aims to convince listeners to adopt the speaker’s perspective or perform a specific action. The speaker uses verbal and visual cues to guide the audience’s thoughts and behaviors.

The following are the three types of rhetoric that are typically used in persuasive essays:

Ethos: A persuasive speaker can convince their audience that they are knowledgeable about the subject matter at hand and that they deserve their attention.

Pathos: It is the role of the speaker to elicit an emotional response from the audience. The speaker attempts to connect with the audience by appealing to their emotions, such as sympathy or terror, in order to convince them.

Logos: This is the ability of the speaker to persuade the audience via the use of logic and argument. They explain their case and demonstrate to the audience why they believe it to be correct by using specific examples and facts from their research.

What is the main purpose of a persuasive speech?

It is essential to understand the purpose of your persuasive speech to create a message that connects with your audience.

Young woman smiling at the camera.

Different speeches may serve multiple purposes, and identifying these can help tailor your approach accordingly.

There are three primary purposes you might aim for in a persuasive speech: to stimulate, to convince, and to call to action. Each comes with its own nuances and strategies, and they can sometimes overlap or be used in conjunction to create a more compelling presentation.

To Stimulate

When your goal is to stimulate, you’re not necessarily trying to change the beliefs or actions of your audience outright. Instead, you aim to reinforce existing viewpoints, invigorate your audience’s enthusiasm for a particular issue, or bring a certain topic to the forefront of their attention.

This could be useful in various contexts, such as political rallies, environmental awareness events, or even academic discussions.

For example, if you’re talking about the importance of voting in a democratic society, you may not need to convince your audience that voting is essential.

Instead, you aim to amplify their pre-existing belief, encouraging them to be more active in encouraging others to vote or to take the time to be more informed voters themselves.


  • Use rhetorical questions to engage the audience and get them thinking.
  • Incorporate strong evidence and examples that align with the audience’s existing viewpoints to strengthen their belief.
  • Make use of motivational stories or analogies to energize the audience.

To Convince

Convincing aims to change your audience’s attitudes, beliefs, values, or judgments. This is perhaps what people most often associate with persuasive speeches. Here, you aim to present a compelling argument that not only states your position but also counteracts opposing views.

Let’s say you’re delivering a speech about switching to renewable energy sources. Your audience might have a range of views on this topic, including some preconceived prejudices or misconceptions. Your job is to break these down and build up a compelling case for your viewpoint.


  • Introduce strong evidence from reputable sources to challenge the audience’s current beliefs.
  • Use logical sequencing and structured arguments to lead the audience to your conclusion.
  • Counteract the most common opposing arguments, making your stance appear as the most logical and beneficial choice.

To Call To Action

When your purpose is to call your audience to action, you’re moving beyond merely changing their opinions to inspiring them to do something. This could be as simple as signing a petition, as personal as changing their lifestyle to be more environmentally friendly, or as ambitious as mobilizing them for a political campaign.

In this approach, the effectiveness of your speech is directly related to the immediate actions taken by your audience.

For instance, a speech about the importance of blood donation at a university could aim to get students to sign up for a blood drive next week.


  • Make the action you want them to take clear and specific.
  • Explain the benefits of taking this action, not just for the individual but also for the broader community.
  • Employ emotional appeals to make the audience feel a sense of urgency or necessity.

Understanding your primary aim—or combination of aims—can help you tailor your speech more precisely, making it more impactful and engaging for your audience.

How do persuasive speeches help in college admissions?

When applying to colleges, any skills, hobbies, or talents that you possess can be used as potential ways to stand out from other applicants.

Persuasive speech skills can offer a multitude of benefits that reach beyond mere school curriculum and activities. Below are some specific ways mastery in persuasive speech can boost your college application.

Two students talking to each other.

Demonstrates Critical Thinking

A persuasive speech isn’t just a collection of talking points. It requires carefully crafting an argument, anticipating counter-arguments, and then either rebutting or mitigating them.

This process underscores your critical thinking skills, which are a vital aspect that college admissions committees look for. Your ability to think critically signals that you can take on complex subject matter, a skill that will be crucial in any college environment.

Articulates Thoughts Clearly

Clarity in thought is another skill that persuasive speech hones, and this is a skill that resonates well in any educational setting.

College is as much about effectively communicating your ideas in class discussions and papers as it is about actually understanding the course material. By demonstrating your capacity for clear articulation, you show readiness for academic rigor.

Highlights Research Skills

Behind every good persuasive speech is a mountain of research. When you excel in persuasive speeches during high school, you implicitly demonstrate your ability to do thorough research, sift through multiple sources, and extract relevant information.

You will need these skills for academic papers, group projects, and even thesis work in college.

Reveals Emotional Intelligence

The use of pathos in persuasive speech, which involves appealing to the emotional aspects of your audience, indicates a level of emotional intelligence that sets you apart from other candidates.

College campuses are communities as much as they are educational institutions. Admissions committees appreciate students who can navigate social and emotional landscapes, as it helps maintain a cohesive, supportive learning environment.

Provides Real-World Examples of Leadership and Public Speaking

Persuasive speeches often require you to take up a leadership role, at least for the duration of the speech. It puts you in a position where you have to guide opinions, persuade, and lead an audience towards a conclusion.

This experience is valuable and can be highlighted on your college applications as a testament to your leadership abilities. Being a strong public speaker can also set you up for opportunities like student government, debate teams, and other speaking roles that can further amplify your college experience.

Enhances Personal Statements and Interviews

Your personal statement is a prime opportunity to showcase your persuasive writing skills. Crafting a compelling narrative around your academic and personal life can make a lasting impression on admissions officers.

Moreover, if the college admissions process includes an interview, your persuasive speech skills can also prepare you for that aspect, allowing you to articulate your responses more effectively and make a strong case for your admission.

Pretty student walking in the hallway of a building.

How can you start your persuasive speech?

Consider each of these ten suggestions to ensure that your next speech is a success:

1. Raise your level of knowledge and be prepared for opposing viewpoints.

Do some research on the subject you will talk about to ensure that you are as knowledgeable as possible. Read some articles or books that have been published by reputable sources such as academic journals, news organizations, or universities.

In addition to this, you should become familiar with the opposing argument to your speech. You need to have a comprehensive understanding of the topic and the various perspectives and opinions on it before you give your speech.

2. Determine your objective.

During the process of preparing your speech, you should choose the purpose you wish to accomplish. This will allow you to center your argument on a topic that is unchanging. Having a clear understanding of your objective might assist you in organizing both your message and your technique.

3. Learn about your audience.

Learn about the people who will be hearing your message, as well as the opinions they hold, so that you may effectively persuade them. If they have no prior knowledge of the subject, you should supply them with some background information and steer clear of jargon and complicated language.

4. Decide on a strategy to take.

Determine whether you will appeal to your audience through ethos, pathos, or logos, and base your decision on both your audience and the subject matter. After conducting research on your audience and the views they hold, you should be able to determine which logic, emotion, or authority resonates most strongly with them.

5. Construct a plan of action.

Create an outline to help you organize the important themes of your persuasive speech. Take into account the amount of time you have available to talk when deciding how many points you want to use to support your argument. Aim to include at least three or four points that support your argument.

6. Compose an engaging introduction.

Your opening statement will determine how the rest of the speech is received. It is your chance to make a powerful and persuasive first impression on the people who will be listening to you. Include a remark that grabs their attention at the beginning of your speech.

7. Appeal to unity.

Establishing something that you and your audience have in common is a key aspect of the process of persuasion. Using this strategy, you will be able to forge a connection with your audience more easily.

8. Provide evidence.

Provide the audience with specific examples and the rationale behind why they should agree with each argument you make in your speech. Utilize knowledge and facts that are supported by proof and come from reputable sources. To appeal to someone’s sentimental side, you can also make use of real-life examples, such as personal testimonies or experiences.

9. End with a call to action.

Put a call to action at the end of your speech to summarize what you’ve just informed the audience about and what you want them to do in response to what you’ve said. Restate your primary arguments and explain how they contribute to the overall call to action.

10. Rehearse your delivery of the speech.

After you have completed the writing portion of your persuasive speech, practicing it will allow you to become familiar with the material and determine whether or not it needs additional modifications.

How can you make your persuasive speech stand out?

Making a persuasive speech stand out is not just about the words you say but also how you say them.

smiling woman inside university

Crafting an impactful speech goes beyond presenting facts or making logical arguments; it involves creating a memorable experience for your audience. Below are some advanced techniques that can elevate your presentation from good to unforgettable:

Use Rhetorical Devices

Rhetorical devices are tools that can enhance the sound and meaning of your speech. They can make your arguments more persuasive, your expressions more impactful, and your overall delivery more captivating. Devices like alliteration, assonance, and anaphora add a poetic rhythm to your speech.

However, the key to using these devices effectively is subtlety and strategy. Overusing them could overwhelm your audience or make your speech seem insincere. Balance is the key. Use rhetorical devices to emphasize the critical points, but ensure they are woven seamlessly into the content so that they don’t distract from your main message.

Address Counterarguments

In any debate or discussion, the strength of your argument doesn’t just depend on the points you make and how well you can counter the opposing viewpoints.

Most persuasive topics are contentious by nature, so chances are, that some of your audience members will disagree with your perspective. Ignoring counterarguments can make your argument seem one-sided or uninformed.

Taking the time to address counterarguments head-on can do wonders for your credibility. This shows that you’ve done your homework, considered multiple perspectives, and have well-reasoned arguments for why your viewpoint stands above the rest.

More importantly, it allows you to refute these opposing views effectively, thereby strengthening your argument.

Employ Storytelling Techniques

Human beings are hardwired to love stories. They help us understand complex issues and make abstract concepts relatable. Incorporating storytelling elements in your persuasive speech can give it a dramatic flair and emotional resonance that dry facts and statistics simply can’t offer.

Anecdotes, personal or borrowed, can serve as compelling evidence for your argument. For example, if you’re giving a speech on climate change, sharing a personal story about how you witnessed its effects in your hometown could make your argument more relatable and impactful.

Not only can stories make statistical data come alive, but they can also serve as a powerful tool for eliciting empathy. A personal or touching story has the potential to connect with your audience on an emotional level, making your speech more persuasive and memorable.

What are some good persuasive topics for school?

What are some good topics for school that require persuasion? Below is a list of the most effective topics for persuasive essays.

  • What do you believe the appropriate consequence should be for cheating?
  • What are your thoughts on allowing students to bring their cell phones to school?
  • Which academic field is the most interesting to study?
  • Do you believe that students should be expected to complete their assigned homework?
  • Do you think that your school does a good job of dealing with behavioral misconduct?
  • Are dress codes a fantastic idea for schools?
  • Do you feel that the school day is too long?
  • Do you believe that students are allowed to select the topics they learn?
  • If you could modify any of the school rules, what would they be?
  • Does it make sense for groups of close friends to sit together in school?
  • Do you feel that the school day begins too early for you?

In conclusion, a persuasive essay is a powerful tool for conveying ideas and influencing people’s opinions and behaviors. It requires students to research, analyze, and organize their thoughts effectively and present them in a convincing manner.

A female student typing on her laptop.

Therefore, it is crucial for schools to include persuasive speech in their curriculum to help students develop these essential skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Here at AdmissionSight, we provide expert guidance from experienced admissions consultants. You can gain valuable insights into the admissions process, get personalized feedback on your application, and increase your chances of being admitted to your dream school. Book your initial consultation today!


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