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Writing a Persuasive Speech


Speaking Tips     Overcoming Fear     Speech Writing     Wedding Speeches
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. - Collosians 4:6

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Writing a Persuasive Speech:  Tips for Acute Authenticity

- Don't be scared to share stories from your life.  Stories are great for engaging attention and stories from your own life will be all the more relevant and useful.  By using these you're showing the audience that you're willing to open up.

- Don't be scared to be vulnerable (within boundaries).  It's okay to share stories of failures and weaknesses in your own life.  Most people will appreciate that more than a pretender on stage, who claims to have it all together all the time.  This doesn't mean you should go into intimate details of your worst slip-ups, so use common sense here.

- Never pretend to be smarter then you are, or something that you're not.  Audiences can spot a fake a mile away - more on this below.
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Aloofness might work for supermodels and actors on the red carpet, but won't score you any brownie points with your audience.  This goes for both writing a persuasive speech, and during the delivery thereof.
Blowing Smoke As a Public Speaker
The audience will appreciate authenticity, honesty and genuine interest in them more than more other things.  Gone are the days when experts could float in from the sky, deliver lists of cold facts without making them relevant, and then disappear.  That kind of delivery might work in a lecture classroom, but won't do for almost any other kind of public speaking.
- Put the audience's needs first.  It's okay to address the audience directly and ask them if they're cold/hot or if they need the lights brighter/dimmer.  You've got the mic which means you're in charge of the room - use that by making sure the audience knows that you care about them.  They'll love you for it.

So, when writing a persuasive speech and delivering the goods, authenticity will nearly always do you good, and make you attractive to the audience.  But the opposite is also true:  If there's one thing that's universally hated among crowds of all sorts, its dishonesty and hypocrisy.

Dishonesty is dangerous

Being a ethical principle that stands true everywhere in life, it should make sense that it's valid for public speaking as well:  If you're making up stuff behind the lectern, quoting facts that you haven't verified, making up stories to prove your points, or outright lying about your experience and knowledge, you've found one sure fire way to end up with the audience hating you.

Because once you've convinced the audience that you're full of fluff, it's almost impossible to finish in good standing.  If they've been led to believe that you're lying from stage, or that you're blowing smoke since you obviously didn't do your research, you can kiss your standing ovation goodbye...

Dishonesty's equally nasty, albeit more subtle brother in deception is hypocrisy.  A proper definition of this one will help us understand why it's too be avoided (apart from the obvious fact that most people hate being lied to):

The Ancient Greeks used the word hypokrisis for a stage actor who put a mask on (literally) and pretended to be something he really wasn't.  Now actors are of course allowed to be hypocrites in this sense, since that's their job!  They're supposed to convince you that they're something that they really aren't.

But as a public speaker, you have a different calling, and like the audience in the Ancient Greek setting, your audience will usually be able to tell when you're putting on the mask.  In fact, most forms of hypocrisy is so seriously easy to spot, that I find it hard to comprehend (read: it BLOWS my mind!) that people still think they can get away with it!

Summary:  An important principle for writing a persuasive speech is to be authentic and genuine.  The audience will love you for it and you'll end up with a succesful delivery.
If you're blowing smoke, the audience will realize it long before you think they will.