Persuasive speeches differ from other speeches because they not only impart information but also strive to evoke a response from the audience. Whether you want the audience to donate to a charity, volunteer their time or to simply acknowledge that world hunger, particularly among children, is a cause worthy of their attention, a structured approach works best. The best persuasive speeches have an introduction, a body and a conclusion. The speech should be fact-based and delivered by a speaker with passion, conviction and sincerity.
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Capture the interest and attention of the audience with a catchy opening line. For example, provide one startling fact or several facts regarding child hunger in the world today. Immediately engage your listeners by posing your facts as questions beginning with the words "Did you know...".
Introduce yourself by explaining why you are giving the speech. If possible, explain why you are a credible source on the topic.
Explain the purpose of the speech and what the audience should expect, including your call-to-action. Find a way to relate why the audience should care about your topic. As child hunger may not directly affect your audience, it may help to ask them to imagine being hungry every day or evoke their empathy by displaying photos that clearly show the plight of malnourished children around the world.
List the top three to five key points you wish to address in the speech. As a persuasive speech, the key points should be fact-based and directly relate to your call to action. For example, if you want to persuade the audience to donate to a cause, explain the cause and how their donations can help and outline the donation process.
Prioritise the key points with the most important and persuasive point first. The other points can follow in any order, although any point that outline a task or a process for the audience to follow should serve as the last point so that it is easier to remember. For example, if you want the audience to volunteer their time towards your cause, the last key point in the body of your speech could be a description of the registration procedure.
Add transition phrases between each of the key points. Transition phrases act as guide posts that let the audience know when you are moving on to the next idea. Good transition phrases begin with words like "furthermore," "in addition" or "and now."
Add power words and phrases. Go back through the introduction and body of your speech and be sure you are using strong language. Avoid the use of phrases like "I think" or "maybe". Use words like "devastating", "despair","amazing", and "hope".
Signal to the audience that the speech is coming to an end by insert a final transition phrase or sentence. For example, say "Now that you know..." followed by a summary of the key points in the speech.
Summarise each of the key points from the speech body. The summary should be brief and to the point. For example, you might say, "Today, you've learnt some surprising statistics and the devastating effects of child hunger. Donating one dollar per week can have a lasting impact on this important issue. Contributing is easy."
Insert a call to action. Clearly repeat what you would like the audience to do and how to do it. Create a sense of urgency by using words such as "today" or "now" as the audience is most likely to act immediately after the speech. If appropriate, you can also provide ways for the audience to respond to your call-to-action such as handing out donation or registration forms.
Open the floor to questions from the audience. Allowing the audience to ask questions lends credibility to your topic and to you as the speaker.
End with a strong, empowering statement. For example, an effective end statement is, "Yes, you CAN make a difference to child hunger today."
Tips and warnings
- Use visual aids such as photos or presentation slides to enhance understanding. Showing photos of your cause can help to elicit empathy from the audience.
- The delivery of the speech can be just as important as the actual speech itself. Practice the speech several times to ensure you can deliver it convincingly and without mistakes. During the speech, remember to make eye contact with the audience to build a connection with them and to demonstrate sincerity.
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