How to Write an Outline for a Persuasive Speech, with Examples

How to Write an Outline for a Persuasive Speech, with Examples intro image

Persuasive speeches are one of the three most used speeches in our daily lives. Persuasive speech is used when presenters decide to convince their presentation or ideas to their listeners. A compelling speech aims to persuade the listener to believe in a particular point of view. One of the most iconic examples is Martin Luther King’s ‘I had a dream’ speech on the 28th of August 1963.

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Man Touches the Word Persuasion on Screen

What is Persuasive Speech?

Persuasive speech is a written and delivered essay to convince people of the speaker’s viewpoint or ideas. Persuasive speaking is the type of speaking people engage in the most. This type of speech has a broad spectrum, from arguing about politics to talking about what to have for dinner. Persuasive speaking is highly connected to the audience, as in a sense, the speaker has to meet the audience halfway.

Persuasive Speech Preparation

Persuasive speech preparation doesn’t have to be difficult, as long as you select your topic wisely and prepare thoroughly.

Here Are Some Steps to Follow:

1. Select a Topic and Angle

Come up with a controversial topic that will spark a heated debate, regardless of your position. This could be about anything. Choose a topic that you are passionate about. Select a particular angle to focus on to ensure that your topic isn’t too broad. Research the topic thoroughly, focussing on key facts, arguments for and against your angle, and background.

2. Define Your Persuasive Goal

Once you have chosen your topic, it’s time to decide what your goal is to persuade the audience. Are you trying to persuade them in favor of a certain position or issue? Are you hoping that they change their behavior or an opinion due to your speech? Do you want them to decide to purchase something or donate money to a cause? Knowing your goal will help you make wise decisions about approaching writing and presenting your speech.

3. Analyze the Audience

Understanding your audience’s perspective is critical anytime that you are writing a speech. This is even more important when it comes to a persuasive speech because not only are you wanting to get the audience to listen to you, but you are also hoping for them to take a particular action in response to your speech. First, consider who is in the audience. Consider how the audience members are likely to perceive the topic you are speaking on to better relate to them on the subject. Grasp the obstacles audience members face or have regarding the topic so you can build appropriate persuasive arguments to overcome these obstacles.

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4. Build an Effective Persuasive Argument

Once you have a clear goal, you are knowledgeable about the topic and, have insights regarding your audience, you will be ready to build an effective persuasive argument to deliver in the form of a persuasive speech. 

Start by deciding what persuasive techniques are likely to help you persuade your audience. Would an emotional and psychological appeal to your audience help persuade them? Is there a good way to sway the audience with logic and reason? Is it possible that a bandwagon appeal might be effective?

5. Outline Your Speech

Once you know which persuasive strategies are most likely to be effective, your next step is to create a keyword outline to organize your main points and structure your persuasive speech for maximum impact on the audience.

Start strong, letting your audience know what your topic is, why it matters and, what you hope to achieve at the end of your speech. List your main points, thoroughly covering each point, being sure to build the argument for your position and overcome opposing perspectives. Conclude your speech by appealing to your audience to act in a way that will prove that you persuaded them successfully. Motivation is a big part of persuasion.

6. Deliver a Winning Speech

Select appropriate visual aids to share with your audiences, such as graphs, photos, or illustrations. Practice until you can deliver your speech confidently. Maintain eye contact, project your voice and, avoid using filler words or any form of vocal interference. Let your passion for the subject shine through. Your enthusiasm may be what sways the audience. 

Persuasive Speech Outline

Close-Up of Mans Hands Persuading Someone

Topic: What topic are you trying to persuade your audience on?

Specific Purpose: 

Central idea:

  1. Introduction
    1. Attention grabber – This is potentially the most crucial line. If the audience doesn’t like the opening line, they might be less inclined to listen to the rest of your speech.
    2. Thesis – This statement is used to inform the audience of the speaker’s mindset and try to get the audience to see the issue their way.
    3. Qualifications – Tell the audience why you are qualified to speak about the topic to persuade them.
  2. Body

    After the introductory portion of the speech is over, the speaker starts presenting reasons to the audience to provide support for the statement. After each reason, the speaker will list examples to provide a factual argument to sway listeners’ opinions.

    1. Reason 1 ( Provide one reason as to why listeners should act or think the way your thesis suggests.)
      1. Example 1 – Support for the reason given above.
      2. Example 2 – Support for the reason given above.
    2. Reason 2 ( Provide one reason as to why listeners should act or think the way your thesis suggests.)
      1. Example 1 – Support for the reason given above.
      2. Example 2 – Support for the reason given above.
    3. Reason 3 ( Provide one reason as to why listeners should act or think the way your thesis suggests.)
      1. Example 1 – Support for the reason given above.
      2. Example 2 – Support for the reason given above.
  3. Conclusion

    The most important part of a persuasive speech is the conclusion, second to the introduction and thesis statement. This is where the speaker must sum up and tie all of their arguments into an organized and solid point.

    1. Summary: Briefly remind the listeners why they should agree with your position.
    2. Memorable ending/ Audience challenge: End your speech with a powerful closing thought or recommend a course of action.
    3. Thank the audience for listening.

Persuasive Speech Outline Examples

Male and Female Whispering into the Ear of Another Female

Example 1

Topic: Walking frequently can improve both your mental and physical health.

Specific Purpose: To persuade the audience to start walking to improve their health.

Central idea: Regular walking can improve your mental and physical health.

  1. Introduction

    Life has become all about convenience and ease lately. We have dishwashers, so we don’t have to wash dishes by hand with electric scooters, so we don’t have to paddle while riding. I mean, isn’t it ridiculous?

    Today’s luxuries have been welcomed by the masses. They have also been accused of turning us into passive, lethargic sloths. As a reformed sloth, I know how easy it can be to slip into the convenience of things and not want to move off the couch. I want to persuade you to start walking.

  2. Body

    Americans lead a passive lifestyle at the expense of their own health.

    1. Adults watch between 15 and 18 hours of tv a week.
      1. This means that we spend approximately 40% of our leisure time in front of the TV.
      2. Ironically, it is also reported that Americans don’t like many of the shows that they watch.
    2. An article in the March 1994 issue of Walking reports that there is evidence that our passive lifestyle is bad for our mental and emotional mind state.
      1. Today’s studies indicate that people were experiencing higher bouts of depression than in the 18th and 19th centuries, when work and life were considered problematic.
      2. The article reports that 12.6% of Americans suffer from anxiety, and 9.5% suffer from severe depression.
      3. Present the opposition’s claim and refute an argument.
    3. Our eating habit, combined with our lack of exercise, is purported to be the “second leading non-genetic contributor to death in the U.S.”
      1. Nutritionist Phyllis Hall stated that we tend to eat foods high in fat, which produces high levels of cholesterol in our blood, which leads to plaque build-up in our arteries.
      2. While modifying our diet can help us decrease our risk for heart disease, studies have indicated that people who don’t exercise are at an even greater risk.
  3. Conclusion

    In closing, I urge you to start walking more. Walking is a simple, easy activity. Park further away from stores and walk. Walk instead of driving to your nearest convenience store. Take 20 minutes and enjoy a walk around your neighborhood. Hide the TV remote, move off the couch and, walk. Do it for your heart.

    Thank you for listening!

Example 2

Topic: Less screen time can improve your sleep.

Specific Purpose: To persuade the audience to stop using their screens two hours before bed.

Central idea: Ceasing electronics before bed will help you achieve better sleep.

  1. Introduction

    Who doesn’t love to sleep? I don’t think I have ever met anyone who doesn’t like getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep is essential for our bodies to rest and repair themselves.

    I love sleeping and, there is no way that I would be able to miss out on a good night’s sleep.

    As someone who has had trouble sleeping due to taking my phone into bed with me and laying in bed while entertaining myself on my phone till I fall asleep, I can say that it’s not the healthiest habit, and we should do whatever we can to change it.

  2. Body
    1. Our screens emit blue light.
      1. Our natural blue light source is the sun.
      2. Bluelight is designed to keep us awake.
    2. Bluelight tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime.
      1. Bluelight makes our brain waves more active.
      2. We find it harder to sleep when our brain waves are more active.
    3. A good night’s rest is good for your mental health.
      1. Having a good night’s rest will improve your mood.
      2. Being fully rested will increase your productivity.
  3. Conclusion

    Using electronics before bed will stimulate your brainwaves and make it more difficult for you to sleep. Bluelight tricks our brains into a false sense of daytime and, in turn, makes it more difficult for us to sleep. So, put down those screens if you love your sleep!

    Thank the audience for listening

Final Thoughts

A persuasive speech is used to convince the audience of the speaker standing on a certain subject. To have a successful persuasive speech, doing the proper planning and executing your speech with confidence will help persuade the audience of your standing on the topic you chose. Persuasive speeches are used every day in the world around us, from planning what’s for dinner to arguing about politics. It is one of the most widely used forms of speech and, with proper planning and execution, you can sway any audience.

Cite this article as: Jim Peterson, "How to Write an Outline for a Persuasive Speech, with Examples," in My Speech Class, February 24, 2022, https://www.myspeechclass.com/persuasive-speech-outline.html.