Motivating others can be difficult under the best of circumstances, but giving a persuasive speech can feel downright impossible.
People can hold onto their stance with absolute conviction. If you’re trying to persuade them that they can lose weight or to take a stand against bullying, they might cross their arms and state that things can’t change from how they are.
This is why it can seem like a good idea to write out an outline first. But what is the flow of a speech that truly inspires? What does a solid persuasive speech outline actually look like?
Most people think that this type of content has to have an elaborate organizational pattern to it. But that’s just not true of the most effective speech outlines. Persuasive speech is not about impressing others with a fancy rubric, it’s about convincing them of a different possibility for their lives. And it’s something you can do in four simple parts.
Below is a 4-part framework that you could put together for your topic in 5 minutes.
Part 1: Establish a problem they care about solving
One of the biggest mistakes public speakers make when trying to convince others of something is that they delve right into their solution. But this is just going to make people cross their arms even tighter. They have their perspective because they’ve had a lifetime of experiences convincing them that they’re right.
If they’ve struggled with obesity their whole life, they have plenty of evidence to tell them they can’t lose weight. But they still care about being healthier. They don’t want to feel shame around their appearance. A compelling speech might start with outlining how much of a struggle it is for them to live their life day to day with this burden. This will prompt them to want to solve these problems in that moment, which has now gotten them invested in listening further.
People are most likely to embrace a solution when it’s presented within the context of a problem they care about solving. The most persuasive speeches first meet the audience where they’re at – not where the speaker wants them to be.
Part 2: Identify typical solutions
The reason why people don’t embrace new solutions is that they don’t believe it will lead to change. Someone adamant about every diet being worthless feels that way because they’ve tried all of the diets and it hasn’t helped them keep the weight off.
But this actually becomes an opportunity to set up your solution. If you identify the false ways that people try to solve the problem in question, you’re showing your audience that the problem isn’t them. You’re showing them that the problem is in the solution. This lets them off the hook, which builds a sense of hope.
Your audience won’t ever embrace a solution if they think they’re the cause of the problem. By identifying typical false solutions, you’re showing them that the cause is something else.
Part 3: Provide your silver bullet
It may surprise you to find out that there’s something that 46 of the 50 most popular TED talks have in common. These speeches are so persuasive not because they’re the funniest or the most jaw-dropping, but because people finish the talk believing what the speaker believes.
And each of these 46 speeches don’t just have a lot of information – they have a single-sentence recipe that defines their entire solution. This becomes a silver bullet, the solution that other people don’t know about. But you (and now your audience) do know it.
A weight loss guru might have established the reason why diets don’t work in part 2. She might have said that deprivation just leads to yo-yo diets, and actually further weight gain in the long run. This is why her silver bullet says that you will keep the weight off not by depriving yourself of the foods you crave but replacing them with foods you also enjoy.
Though she has more information to offer than just this one statement, it explains not just what to do but why to do it in that particular way. And this empowers her audience without any other context.
People are empowered by possibility. This silver bullet plants that seed of possibility in their minds. And while this may be a simple concept, it’s not necessarily obvious how you might express yourself in such a concise way. Click here to learn how my clients use this technique to get floods of opportunities for their speaking.
Part 4: Explain your solution
Now, finally, we’ve gotten to the part that most people start with. The solution. The steps, components, or other information that you’ve spent so much time developing. But the previous three parts of this framework are meant to help you to create an absolutely critical element in your speech: hunger for your solution.
But now that you’ve created that hunger, you can then provide a high-level overview of what it looks like to implement your silver bullet. In the case of the weight loss expert, she might explain how, for one week at a time, the person replaces an unhealthy food they crave like cookies with a healthier option they also enjoy like a snack bar made of dates and almonds.
So a speech outline example might look like this:
- Establish the problem of being overweight: Explore how difficult it can be to lose weight and the heavy emotions associated with it.
- Identify typical solutions around weight loss: Present several diets and approaches to weight loss that don’t work and why they fail.
- Provide the silver bullet: Explain that the audience will keep the weight off not by depriving themselves of the foods they crave but replacing them with foods they also enjoy.
- Describe what this looks like: Share a case study of someone who implemented this idea and the results they got.
Then, you might provide a call-to-action at the end, prompting the audience to take next steps with you. But notice that this speech outline isn’t even 100 words long. If you have clarity around your silver bullet, you can easily formulate a truly persuasive speech outline in under five minutes.