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Developing Strong Thesis Statements
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These OWL resources will help you develop and refine the arguments in your writing.
The thesis statement or main claim must be debatable
An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.
Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:
This thesis statement is not debatable. First, the word pollution implies that something is bad or negative in some way. Furthermore, all studies agree that pollution is a problem; they simply disagree on the impact it will have or the scope of the problem. No one could reasonably argue that pollution is unambiguously good.
Example of a debatable thesis statement:
This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it. Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money. Others might feel that we should be spending more money on education. Still others could argue that corporations, not the government, should be paying to limit pollution.
Another example of a debatable thesis statement:
In this example there is also room for disagreement between rational individuals. Some citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the most effective strategy.
The thesis needs to be narrow
Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to convince readers that your position is right.
Example of a thesis that is too broad:
There are several reasons this statement is too broad to argue. First, what is included in the category "drugs"? Is the author talking about illegal drug use, recreational drug use (which might include alcohol and cigarettes), or all uses of medication in general? Second, in what ways are drugs detrimental? Is drug use causing deaths (and is the author equating deaths from overdoses and deaths from drug related violence)? Is drug use changing the moral climate or causing the economy to decline? Finally, what does the author mean by "society"? Is the author referring only to America or to the global population? Does the author make any distinction between the effects on children and adults? There are just too many questions that the claim leaves open. The author could not cover all of the topics listed above, yet the generality of the claim leaves all of these possibilities open to debate.
Example of a narrow or focused thesis:
In this example the topic of drugs has been narrowed down to illegal drugs and the detriment has been narrowed down to gang violence. This is a much more manageable topic.
We could narrow each debatable thesis from the previous examples in the following way:
Narrowed debatable thesis 1:
This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just the amount of money used but also how the money could actually help to control pollution.
Narrowed debatable thesis 2:
This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just what the focus of a national anti-pollution campaign should be but also why this is the appropriate focus.
Qualifiers such as " typically ," " generally ," " usually ," or " on average " also help to limit the scope of your claim by allowing for the almost inevitable exception to the rule.
Types of claims
Claims typically fall into one of four categories. Thinking about how you want to approach your topic, or, in other words, what type of claim you want to make, is one way to focus your thesis on one particular aspect of your broader topic.
Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or whether something is a settled fact. Example:
Claims of cause and effect: These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur. Example:
Claims about value: These are claims made of what something is worth, whether we value it or not, how we would rate or categorize something. Example:
Claims about solutions or policies: These are claims that argue for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem. Example:
Which type of claim is right for your argument? Which type of thesis or claim you use for your argument will depend on your position and knowledge of the topic, your audience, and the context of your paper. You might want to think about where you imagine your audience to be on this topic and pinpoint where you think the biggest difference in viewpoints might be. Even if you start with one type of claim you probably will be using several within the paper. Regardless of the type of claim you choose to utilize it is key to identify the controversy or debate you are addressing and to define your position early on in the paper.
Home / Guides / Writing Guides / Parts of a Paper / How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement
How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement
A thesis can be found in many places—a debate speech, a lawyer’s closing argument, even an advertisement. But the most common place for a thesis statement (and probably why you’re reading this article) is in an essay.
Whether you’re writing an argumentative paper, an informative essay, or a compare/contrast statement, you need a thesis. Without a thesis, your argument falls flat and your information is unfocused. Since a thesis is so important, it’s probably a good idea to look at some tips on how to put together a strong one.
What is a “thesis statement” anyway.
- 2 categories of thesis statements: informative and persuasive
- 2 styles of thesis statements
- Formula for a strong argumentative thesis
- The qualities of a solid thesis statement (video)
You may have heard of something called a “thesis.” It’s what seniors commonly refer to as their final paper before graduation. That’s not what we’re talking about here. That type of thesis is a long, well-written paper that takes years to piece together.
Instead, we’re talking about a single sentence that ties together the main idea of any argument . In the context of student essays, it’s a statement that summarizes your topic and declares your position on it. This sentence can tell a reader whether your essay is something they want to read.
2 Categories of Thesis Statements: Informative and Persuasive
Just as there are different types of essays, there are different types of thesis statements. The thesis should match the essay.
For example, with an informative essay, you should compose an informative thesis (rather than argumentative). You want to declare your intentions in this essay and guide the reader to the conclusion that you reach.
To make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you must procure the ingredients, find a knife, and spread the condiments.
This thesis showed the reader the topic (a type of sandwich) and the direction the essay will take (describing how the sandwich is made).
Most other types of essays, whether compare/contrast, argumentative, or narrative, have thesis statements that take a position and argue it. In other words, unless your purpose is simply to inform, your thesis is considered persuasive. A persuasive thesis usually contains an opinion and the reason why your opinion is true.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the best type of sandwich because they are versatile, easy to make, and taste good.
In this persuasive thesis statement, you see that I state my opinion (the best type of sandwich), which means I have chosen a stance. Next, I explain that my opinion is correct with several key reasons. This persuasive type of thesis can be used in any essay that contains the writer’s opinion, including, as I mentioned above, compare/contrast essays, narrative essays, and so on.
2 Styles of Thesis Statements
Just as there are two different types of thesis statements (informative and persuasive), there are two basic styles you can use.
The first style uses a list of two or more points . This style of thesis is perfect for a brief essay that contains only two or three body paragraphs. This basic five-paragraph essay is typical of middle and high school assignments.
C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series is one of the richest works of the 20th century because it offers an escape from reality, teaches readers to have faith even when they don’t understand, and contains a host of vibrant characters.
In the above persuasive thesis, you can see my opinion about Narnia followed by three clear reasons. This thesis is perfect for setting up a tidy five-paragraph essay.
In college, five paragraph essays become few and far between as essay length gets longer. Can you imagine having only five paragraphs in a six-page paper? For a longer essay, you need a thesis statement that is more versatile. Instead of listing two or three distinct points, a thesis can list one overarching point that all body paragraphs tie into.
Good vs. evil is the main theme of Lewis’s Narnia series, as is made clear through the struggles the main characters face in each book.
In this thesis, I have made a claim about the theme in Narnia followed by my reasoning. The broader scope of this thesis allows me to write about each of the series’ seven novels. I am no longer limited in how many body paragraphs I can logically use.
Formula for a Strong Argumentative Thesis
One thing I find that is helpful for students is having a clear template. While students rarely end up with a thesis that follows this exact wording, the following template creates a good starting point:
___________ is true because of ___________, ___________, and ___________.
Conversely, the formula for a thesis with only one point might follow this template:
___________________ is true because of _____________________.
Students usually end up using different terminology than simply “because,” but having a template is always helpful to get the creative juices flowing.
The Qualities of a Solid Thesis Statement
When composing a thesis, you must consider not only the format, but other qualities like length, position in the essay, and how strong the argument is.
Length: A thesis statement can be short or long, depending on how many points it mentions. Typically, however, it is only one concise sentence. It does contain at least two clauses, usually an independent clause (the opinion) and a dependent clause (the reasons). You probably should aim for a single sentence that is at least two lines, or about 30 to 40 words long.
Position: A thesis statement always belongs at the beginning of an essay. This is because it is a sentence that tells the reader what the writer is going to discuss. Teachers will have different preferences for the precise location of the thesis, but a good rule of thumb is in the introduction paragraph, within the last two or three sentences.
Strength: Finally, for a persuasive thesis to be strong, it needs to be arguable. This means that the statement is not obvious, and it is not something that everyone agrees is true.
Example of weak thesis:
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are easy to make because it just takes three ingredients.
Most people would agree that PB&J is one of the easiest sandwiches in the American lunch repertoire.
Example of a stronger thesis:
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are fun to eat because they always slide around.
This is more arguable because there are plenty of folks who might think a PB&J is messy or slimy rather than fun.
Composing a thesis statement does take a bit more thought than many other parts of an essay. However, because a thesis statement can contain an entire argument in just a few words, it is worth taking the extra time to compose this sentence. It can direct your research and your argument so that your essay is tight, focused, and makes readers think.
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11.2 Persuasive Speaking
- Explain how claims, evidence, and warrants function to create an argument.
- Identify strategies for choosing a persuasive speech topic.
- Identify strategies for adapting a persuasive speech based on an audience’s orientation to the proposition.
- Distinguish among propositions of fact, value, and policy.
- Choose an organizational pattern that is fitting for a persuasive speech topic.
We produce and receive persuasive messages daily, but we don’t often stop to think about how we make the arguments we do or the quality of the arguments that we receive. In this section, we’ll learn the components of an argument, how to choose a good persuasive speech topic, and how to adapt and organize a persuasive message.
Foundation of Persuasion
Persuasive speaking seeks to influence the beliefs, attitudes, values, or behaviors of audience members. In order to persuade, a speaker has to construct arguments that appeal to audience members. Arguments form around three components: claim, evidence, and warrant. The claim is the statement that will be supported by evidence. Your thesis statement is the overarching claim for your speech, but you will make other claims within the speech to support the larger thesis. Evidence , also called grounds, supports the claim. The main points of your persuasive speech and the supporting material you include serve as evidence. For example, a speaker may make the following claim: “There should be a national law against texting while driving.” The speaker could then support the claim by providing the following evidence: “Research from the US Department of Transportation has found that texting while driving creates a crash risk that is twenty-three times worse than driving while not distracted.” The warrant is the underlying justification that connects the claim and the evidence. One warrant for the claim and evidence cited in this example is that the US Department of Transportation is an institution that funds research conducted by credible experts. An additional and more implicit warrant is that people shouldn’t do things they know are unsafe.
Figure 11.2 Components of an Argument
The quality of your evidence often impacts the strength of your warrant, and some warrants are stronger than others. A speaker could also provide evidence to support their claim advocating for a national ban on texting and driving by saying, “I have personally seen people almost wreck while trying to text.” While this type of evidence can also be persuasive, it provides a different type and strength of warrant since it is based on personal experience. In general, the anecdotal evidence from personal experience would be given a weaker warrant than the evidence from the national research report. The same process works in our legal system when a judge evaluates the connection between a claim and evidence. If someone steals my car, I could say to the police, “I’m pretty sure Mario did it because when I said hi to him on campus the other day, he didn’t say hi back, which proves he’s mad at me.” A judge faced with that evidence is unlikely to issue a warrant for Mario’s arrest. Fingerprint evidence from the steering wheel that has been matched with a suspect is much more likely to warrant arrest.
As you put together a persuasive argument, you act as the judge. You can evaluate arguments that you come across in your research by analyzing the connection (the warrant) between the claim and the evidence. If the warrant is strong, you may want to highlight that argument in your speech. You may also be able to point out a weak warrant in an argument that goes against your position, which you could then include in your speech. Every argument starts by putting together a claim and evidence, but arguments grow to include many interrelated units.
Choosing a Persuasive Speech Topic
As with any speech, topic selection is important and is influenced by many factors. Good persuasive speech topics are current, controversial, and have important implications for society. If your topic is currently being discussed on television, in newspapers, in the lounges in your dorm, or around your family’s dinner table, then it’s a current topic. A persuasive speech aimed at getting audience members to wear seat belts in cars wouldn’t have much current relevance, given that statistics consistently show that most people wear seat belts. Giving the same speech would have been much more timely in the 1970s when there was a huge movement to increase seat-belt use.
Many topics that are current are also controversial, which is what gets them attention by the media and citizens. Current and controversial topics will be more engaging for your audience. A persuasive speech to encourage audience members to donate blood or recycle wouldn’t be very controversial, since the benefits of both practices are widely agreed on. However, arguing that the restrictions on blood donation by men who have had sexual relations with men be lifted would be controversial. I must caution here that controversial is not the same as inflammatory. An inflammatory topic is one that evokes strong reactions from an audience for the sake of provoking a reaction. Being provocative for no good reason or choosing a topic that is extremist will damage your credibility and prevent you from achieving your speech goals.
You should also choose a topic that is important to you and to society as a whole. As we have already discussed in this book, our voices are powerful, as it is through communication that we participate and make change in society. Therefore we should take seriously opportunities to use our voices to speak publicly. Choosing a speech topic that has implications for society is probably a better application of your public speaking skills than choosing to persuade the audience that Lebron James is the best basketball player in the world or that Superman is a better hero than Spiderman. Although those topics may be very important to you, they don’t carry the same social weight as many other topics you could choose to discuss. Remember that speakers have ethical obligations to the audience and should take the opportunity to speak seriously.
You will also want to choose a topic that connects to your own interests and passions. If you are an education major, it might make more sense to do a persuasive speech about funding for public education than the death penalty. If there are hot-button issues for you that make you get fired up and veins bulge out in your neck, then it may be a good idea to avoid those when speaking in an academic or professional context.
Choose a persuasive speech topic that you’re passionate about but still able to approach and deliver in an ethical manner.
Michael Vadon – Nigel Farage – CC BY-SA 2.0.
Choosing such topics may interfere with your ability to deliver a speech in a competent and ethical manner. You want to care about your topic, but you also want to be able to approach it in a way that’s going to make people want to listen to you. Most people tune out speakers they perceive to be too ideologically entrenched and write them off as extremists or zealots.
You also want to ensure that your topic is actually persuasive. Draft your thesis statement as an “I believe” statement so your stance on an issue is clear. Also, think of your main points as reasons to support your thesis. Students end up with speeches that aren’t very persuasive in nature if they don’t think of their main points as reasons. Identifying arguments that counter your thesis is also a good exercise to help ensure your topic is persuasive. If you can clearly and easily identify a competing thesis statement and supporting reasons, then your topic and approach are arguable.
Review of Tips for Choosing a Persuasive Speech Topic
- Not current. People should use seat belts.
- Current. People should not text while driving.
- Not controversial. People should recycle.
- Controversial. Recycling should be mandatory by law.
- Not as impactful. Superman is the best superhero.
- Impactful. Colleges and universities should adopt zero-tolerance bullying policies.
- Unclear thesis. Homeschooling is common in the United States.
- Clear, argumentative thesis with stance. Homeschooling does not provide the same benefits of traditional education and should be strictly monitored and limited.
Adapting Persuasive Messages
Competent speakers should consider their audience throughout the speech-making process. Given that persuasive messages seek to directly influence the audience in some way, audience adaptation becomes even more important. If possible, poll your audience to find out their orientation toward your thesis. I read my students’ thesis statements aloud and have the class indicate whether they agree with, disagree with, or are neutral in regards to the proposition. It is unlikely that you will have a homogenous audience, meaning that there will probably be some who agree, some who disagree, and some who are neutral. So you may employ all of the following strategies, in varying degrees, in your persuasive speech.
When you have audience members who already agree with your proposition, you should focus on intensifying their agreement. You can also assume that they have foundational background knowledge of the topic, which means you can take the time to inform them about lesser-known aspects of a topic or cause to further reinforce their agreement. Rather than move these audience members from disagreement to agreement, you can focus on moving them from agreement to action. Remember, calls to action should be as specific as possible to help you capitalize on audience members’ motivation in the moment so they are more likely to follow through on the action.
There are two main reasons audience members may be neutral in regards to your topic: (1) they are uninformed about the topic or (2) they do not think the topic affects them. In this case, you should focus on instilling a concern for the topic. Uninformed audiences may need background information before they can decide if they agree or disagree with your proposition. If the issue is familiar but audience members are neutral because they don’t see how the topic affects them, focus on getting the audience’s attention and demonstrating relevance. Remember that concrete and proxemic supporting materials will help an audience find relevance in a topic. Students who pick narrow or unfamiliar topics will have to work harder to persuade their audience, but neutral audiences often provide the most chance of achieving your speech goal since even a small change may move them into agreement.
When audience members disagree with your proposition, you should focus on changing their minds. To effectively persuade, you must be seen as a credible speaker. When an audience is hostile to your proposition, establishing credibility is even more important, as audience members may be quick to discount or discredit someone who doesn’t appear prepared or doesn’t present well-researched and supported information. Don’t give an audience a chance to write you off before you even get to share your best evidence. When facing a disagreeable audience, the goal should also be small change. You may not be able to switch someone’s position completely, but influencing him or her is still a success. Aside from establishing your credibility, you should also establish common ground with an audience.
Build common ground with disagreeable audiences and acknowledge areas of disagreement.
Chris-Havard Berge – Shaking Hands – CC BY-NC 2.0.
Acknowledging areas of disagreement and logically refuting counterarguments in your speech is also a way to approach persuading an audience in disagreement, as it shows that you are open-minded enough to engage with other perspectives.
Determining Your Proposition
The proposition of your speech is the overall direction of the content and how that relates to the speech goal. A persuasive speech will fall primarily into one of three categories: propositions of fact, value, or policy. A speech may have elements of any of the three propositions, but you can usually determine the overall proposition of a speech from the specific purpose and thesis statements.
Propositions of fact focus on beliefs and try to establish that something “is or isn’t.” Propositions of value focus on persuading audience members that something is “good or bad,” “right or wrong,” or “desirable or undesirable.” Propositions of policy advocate that something “should or shouldn’t” be done. Since most persuasive speech topics can be approached as propositions of fact, value, or policy, it is a good idea to start thinking about what kind of proposition you want to make, as it will influence how you go about your research and writing. As you can see in the following example using the topic of global warming, the type of proposition changes the types of supporting materials you would need:
- Proposition of fact. Global warming is caused by increased greenhouse gases related to human activity.
- Proposition of value. America’s disproportionately large amount of pollution relative to other countries is wrong .
- Proposition of policy. There should be stricter emission restrictions on individual cars.
To support propositions of fact, you would want to present a logical argument based on objective facts that can then be used to build persuasive arguments. Propositions of value may require you to appeal more to your audience’s emotions and cite expert and lay testimony. Persuasive speeches about policy usually require you to research existing and previous laws or procedures and determine if any relevant legislation or propositions are currently being considered.
Persuasion and Masculinity
The traditional view of rhetoric that started in ancient Greece and still informs much of our views on persuasion today has been critiqued for containing Western and masculine biases. Traditional persuasion has been linked to Western and masculine values of domination, competition, and change, which have been critiqued as coercive and violent (Gearhart, 1979).
Communication scholars proposed an alternative to traditional persuasive rhetoric in the form of invitational rhetoric. Invitational rhetoric differs from a traditional view of persuasive rhetoric that “attempts to win over an opponent, or to advocate the correctness of a single position in a very complex issue” (Bone et al., 2008). Instead, invitational rhetoric proposes a model of reaching consensus through dialogue. The goal is to create a climate in which growth and change can occur but isn’t required for one person to “win” an argument over another. Each person in a communication situation is acknowledged to have a standpoint that is valid but can still be influenced through the offering of alternative perspectives and the invitation to engage with and discuss these standpoints (Ryan & Natalle, 2001). Safety, value, and freedom are three important parts of invitational rhetoric. Safety involves a feeling of security in which audience members and speakers feel like their ideas and contributions will not be denigrated. Value refers to the notion that each person in a communication encounter is worthy of recognition and that people are willing to step outside their own perspectives to better understand others. Last, freedom is present in communication when communicators do not limit the thinking or decisions of others, allowing all participants to speak up (Bone et al., 2008).
Invitational rhetoric doesn’t claim that all persuasive rhetoric is violent. Instead, it acknowledges that some persuasion is violent and that the connection between persuasion and violence is worth exploring. Invitational rhetoric has the potential to contribute to the civility of communication in our society. When we are civil, we are capable of engaging with and appreciating different perspectives while still understanding our own. People aren’t attacked or reviled because their views diverge from ours. Rather than reducing the world to “us against them, black or white, and right or wrong,” invitational rhetoric encourages us to acknowledge human perspectives in all their complexity (Bone et al., 2008).
- What is your reaction to the claim that persuasion includes Western and masculine biases?
- What are some strengths and weaknesses of the proposed alternatives to traditional persuasion?
- In what situations might an invitational approach to persuasion be useful? In what situations might you want to rely on traditional models of persuasion?
Organizing a Persuasive Speech
We have already discussed several patterns for organizing your speech, but some organization strategies are specific to persuasive speaking. Some persuasive speech topics lend themselves to a topical organization pattern, which breaks the larger topic up into logical divisions. Earlier, in Chapter 9 “Preparing a Speech” , we discussed recency and primacy, and in this chapter we discussed adapting a persuasive speech based on the audience’s orientation toward the proposition. These concepts can be connected when organizing a persuasive speech topically. Primacy means putting your strongest information first and is based on the idea that audience members put more weight on what they hear first. This strategy can be especially useful when addressing an audience that disagrees with your proposition, as you can try to win them over early. Recency means putting your strongest information last to leave a powerful impression. This can be useful when you are building to a climax in your speech, specifically if you include a call to action.
Putting your strongest argument last can help motivate an audience to action.
Celestine Chua – The Change – CC BY 2.0.
The problem-solution pattern is an organizational pattern that advocates for a particular approach to solve a problem. You would provide evidence to show that a problem exists and then propose a solution with additional evidence or reasoning to justify the course of action. One main point addressing the problem and one main point addressing the solution may be sufficient, but you are not limited to two. You could add a main point between the problem and solution that outlines other solutions that have failed. You can also combine the problem-solution pattern with the cause-effect pattern or expand the speech to fit with Monroe’s Motivated Sequence.
As was mentioned in Chapter 9 “Preparing a Speech” , the cause-effect pattern can be used for informative speaking when the relationship between the cause and effect is not contested. The pattern is more fitting for persuasive speeches when the relationship between the cause and effect is controversial or unclear. There are several ways to use causes and effects to structure a speech. You could have a two-point speech that argues from cause to effect or from effect to cause. You could also have more than one cause that lead to the same effect or a single cause that leads to multiple effects. The following are some examples of thesis statements that correspond to various organizational patterns. As you can see, the same general topic area, prison overcrowding, is used for each example. This illustrates the importance of considering your organizational options early in the speech-making process, since the pattern you choose will influence your researching and writing.
Persuasive Speech Thesis Statements by Organizational Pattern
- Problem-solution. Prison overcrowding is a serious problem that we can solve by finding alternative rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders.
- Problem–failed solution–proposed solution. Prison overcrowding is a serious problem that shouldn’t be solved by building more prisons; instead, we should support alternative rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders.
- Cause-effect. Prisons are overcrowded with nonviolent offenders, which leads to lesser sentences for violent criminals.
- Cause-cause-effect. State budgets are being slashed and prisons are overcrowded with nonviolent offenders, which leads to lesser sentences for violent criminals.
- Cause-effect-effect. Prisons are overcrowded with nonviolent offenders, which leads to increased behavioral problems among inmates and lesser sentences for violent criminals.
- Cause-effect-solution. Prisons are overcrowded with nonviolent offenders, which leads to lesser sentences for violent criminals; therefore we need to find alternative rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders.
Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is an organizational pattern designed for persuasive speaking that appeals to audience members’ needs and motivates them to action. If your persuasive speaking goals include a call to action, you may want to consider this organizational pattern. We already learned about the five steps of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence in Chapter 9 “Preparing a Speech” , but we will review them here with an example:
- Hook the audience by making the topic relevant to them.
- Imagine living a full life, retiring, and slipping into your golden years. As you get older you become more dependent on others and move into an assisted-living facility. Although you think life will be easier, things get worse as you experience abuse and mistreatment from the staff. You report the abuse to a nurse and wait, but nothing happens and the abuse continues. Elder abuse is a common occurrence, and unlike child abuse, there are no laws in our state that mandate complaints of elder abuse be reported or investigated.
- Cite evidence to support the fact that the issue needs to be addressed.
- According to the American Psychological Association, one to two million elderly US Americans have been abused by their caretakers. In our state, those in the medical, psychiatric, and social work field are required to report suspicion of child abuse but are not mandated to report suspicions of elder abuse.
- Offer a solution and persuade the audience that it is feasible and well thought out.
- There should be a federal law mandating that suspicion of elder abuse be reported and that all claims of elder abuse be investigated.
- Take the audience beyond your solution and help them visualize the positive results of implementing it or the negative consequences of not.
- Elderly people should not have to live in fear during their golden years. A mandatory reporting law for elderly abuse will help ensure that the voices of our elderly loved ones will be heard.
- Call your audience to action by giving them concrete steps to follow to engage in a particular action or to change a thought or behavior.
- I urge you to take action in two ways. First, raise awareness about this issue by talking to your own friends and family. Second, contact your representatives at the state and national level to let them know that elder abuse should be taken seriously and given the same level of importance as other forms of abuse. I brought cards with the contact information for our state and national representatives for this area. Please take one at the end of my speech. A short e-mail or phone call can help end the silence surrounding elder abuse.
- Arguments are formed by making claims that are supported by evidence. The underlying justification that connects the claim and evidence is the warrant. Arguments can have strong or weak warrants, which will make them more or less persuasive.
- Good persuasive speech topics are current, controversial (but not inflammatory), and important to the speaker and society.
- When audience members agree with the proposal, focus on intensifying their agreement and moving them to action.
- When audience members are neutral in regards to the proposition, provide background information to better inform them about the issue and present information that demonstrates the relevance of the topic to the audience.
- When audience members disagree with the proposal, focus on establishing your credibility, build common ground with the audience, and incorporate counterarguments and refute them.
- Propositions of fact focus on establishing that something “is or isn’t” or is “true or false.”
- Propositions of value focus on persuading an audience that something is “good or bad,” “right or wrong,” or “desirable or undesirable.”
- Propositions of policy advocate that something “should or shouldn’t” be done.
- Persuasive speeches can be organized using the following patterns: problem-solution, cause-effect, cause-effect-solution, or Monroe’s Motivated Sequence.
- Getting integrated: Give an example of persuasive messages that you might need to create in each of the following contexts: academic, professional, personal, and civic. Then do the same thing for persuasive messages you may receive.
- To help ensure that your persuasive speech topic is persuasive and not informative, identify the claims, evidence, and warrants you may use in your argument. In addition, write a thesis statement that refutes your topic idea and identify evidence and warrants that could support that counterargument.
- Determine if your speech is primarily a proposition of fact, value, or policy. How can you tell? Identify an organizational pattern that you think will work well for your speech topic, draft one sentence for each of your main points, and arrange them according to the pattern you chose.
Bone, J. E., Cindy L. Griffin, and T. M. Linda Scholz, “Beyond Traditional Conceptualizations of Rhetoric: Invitational Rhetoric and a Move toward Civility,” Western Journal of Communication 72 (2008): 436.
Gearhart, S. M., “The Womanization of Rhetoric,” Women’s Studies International Quarterly 2 (1979): 195–201.
Ryan, K. J., and Elizabeth J. Natalle, “Fusing Horizons: Standpoint Hermenutics and Invitational Rhetoric,” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 31 (2001): 69–90.
Communication in the Real World Copyright © 2016 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
42 Speaking to Persuade/Advocacy
- Define persuasion and advocacy.
- Differentiate between claims of fact, value, and policy.
Speaking to Persuade/Advocacy
GILLIAN, BONANNO, M.A.
Defining Persuasion and Advocacy
Persuasion is “the act of influencing someone to do something or to change their mind” (“Persuasion”). In a persuasive presentation, the goal is to provide the audience with information that will convince them to see your side on an issue. According to Cialdini and Goldstein, “the six basic principles that govern how one person might influence another are: liking , reciprocation , consistency , scarcity , social validation , and authority ” (41).
- First, an individual may be more likely to be persuaded by someone that they “ like ” which ranges from knowing someone personally to having an “instant bond” with a stranger (Cialdini and Goldstein, 41).
- Reciprocation refers to the notion that there is an exchange of some kind, such as in business negotiations (Cialdini and Goldstein, 45).
- Consistency encourages individuals to persuade others by recognizing “a fundamental human tendency to be and to appear consistent with one’s actions, statements, and beliefs” (Cialdini and Goldstein, 45).
- Scarcity principle focuses on the idea that “items and opportunities that are in short supply or unavailable tend to be more desirable than those… that are plentiful and more accessible” (Cialdini and Goldstein, 46). For example, think about a product that you may be interested in purchasing. If the product is limited in production or availability, it might persuade you to be more interested in purchasing the item.
- Social validation refers to the idea that individuals “look to others for cues,” and this will influence their decisions (Cialdini and Goldstein, 48).
- Finally, authority suggests that individuals are persuaded by those they consider to have an expertise in a particular area (Cialdini and Goldstein, 49).
These six principles provide some examples of how an individual (or an audience) can be persuaded. There are certainly other methods and note that not all these principles need to be included in a persuasive presentation for it to be effective.
In addition to the principles listed above, you may consider choosing a basis, or claim, for formulating an argument. This chapter will address three types of persuasive speech claims: questions of fact, value, and policy. In general:
- Claims of fact are quantifiable statements that focus on the accuracy, correctness, or validity of such statements and can be verified using some objective evidence.
- Claims of value are qualitative statements that focus on judgments made about the environment and invite comparisons.
- Claims of policy are statements that focus on actions that should be taken to change the status quo” ( Types of Claims ).
Let’s explore each claim above in more detail, starting with a discussion of statements of fact.
A claim of fact is “something quantifiable has existed, does exist, or will exist” (Types of Claims). This type of claim focuses on data that may not necessarily be refutable based on quantitative data used to present your side of an issue. There are many examples of speeches that use statements of fact as a basis for an argument. The claim may stem from something that you do every day (such as brushing your teeth or taking a walk), but you may want to persuade the audience that they should also do these things if they are not already doing so. In these examples, you may state something specific and able to be verified such as, ‘Brushing your teeth twice a day can decrease tooth decay’ or ‘Walking every day decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease’ and then support these claims with clear statistics, charts, or data that will help them to embrace your claim. (Please note that the claims above are simply examples, and data is not included to support or refute these claims in this chapter.)
You may also wish to consider a speech that addresses a question of value.
A claim of value “asserts qualitative judgments along a good-to-bad continuum relating to persons, events, and things in one’s environment” (Types of Claims). This type of speech may include more qualitative data, such as open-ended responses. The claim of value may include words such as good, bad, better, best, or worse. These are often considered to be subjective terms (one person may have a different idea of good/bad/better/best/worst) and it is the responsibility of the presenter to define these subjective terms and also provide evidence to support the claims. Some examples might include ‘Car X is better than Car Y’ or ‘Coffee is the best morning beverage.’ (Note that these are simply examples, and support for these claims is not provided in this chapter.)
In a claim of policy , the word “should” helps to formulate your argument. Using the word “should” is important as it “implies that some action ought to be taken, but not that it must or will be taken” ( Types of Claims ).
You may use this type of claim to address issues of politics, policies, health, environment, safety, or other larger global concerns. Your speech will describe the reason why you feel that a policy or issue should (or should not) be addressed in a specific way based on your research. In this type of speech, you are asking your audience to support your solution to an issue that you have presented to them. Examples may include “Policy A should be changed to include (mention what should be included)” or “College students should have access to (mention what students should have access to).” Presenters for this type of speech should clearly explain the policy and then share with the audience why it should be changed (or upheld) by using their research to support the position.
Advocacy , on the other hand, is “the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal” (“Advocacy”). An advocate feels strongly about an issue and will work diligently to encourage others to support their cause. An advocate should be able to speak about an issue in a concise, professional, and persuasive manner. Enthusiasm for a cause will shine through if the advocate thoroughly embraces the role. This can be accomplished by conducting research, exploring opposing views on the issue at hand, preparing effective visual aids, and practicing the delivery of the content before a presentation or event. An advocate takes on many forms. A lawyer advocates for clients. A patient may advocate for rights to care. A student may advocate for a higher grade from a professor.
An advocate can be described as:
1) One who pleads the cause of another, specifically one who pleads the cause of another before a tribunal or judicial court.
2) One who defends or maintains a cause or proposal.
3) One who supports or promotes the interest of a cause or group (“Advocate”)
Types of Advocacy
There are many types of advocacy. This chapter will address self- advocacy, peer advocacy, and citizen advocacy.
Self- advocacy addresses the need for an individual to advocate for oneself. Examples might include negotiating with a boss for a raise, or perhaps used when applying for college or health insurance. According to an advocacy website, Advocacy: inclusion, empowerment and human rights, “The goal of self-advocacy is for people to decide what they want and to carry out plans to help them get it …. the individual self-assesses a situation or problem and then speaks for his or her own needs.”
Individuals who share experiences, values, or positions will join together in a group advocacy setting. This type of advocacy includes sharing ideas with one another and speaking collectively about issues. The groups “aim to influence public opinion, policy and service provision” and are often part of committees with varying “size, influence, and motive.” (Advocacy: inclusion, empowerment and human rights.) Examples might include groups interested in protecting the environment, rights to adequate health care, addressing issues of diversity, equity, and/or inclusion, or working together to save an endangered species.
A citizen advocate involves local community members who work together to have a platform to address issues that affect their lives. An example might include community school boards or participation in town hall meetings. (Advocacy: inclusion, empowerment and human rights)
As you can see, persuasion and advocacy have been defined in different ways. As the presenter, you have the opportunity to persuade your audience, and can use these definitions to help you decide what type of advocate or persuasive presentation that you would like to develop. As you are developing these ideas, continue to narrow in on a topic that you are passionate about and can connect with the audience.
Here are some additional ideas to consider when choosing a topic:
- Choose a topic that is (relatively) new to you! You may consider taking some time to explore a topic that you do not yet know about and/or one that you want to learn more about. Perhaps you recently read, saw, or experienced something that you would like to research and share with your audience. Maybe you began your process with not knowing which side you support on an issue, and you take some time to research both sides of an issue and determine which you support. You can use this presentation as an opportunity to learn more about that topic and can then talk about this process in your presentation. Using the research that you have gathered will help you as you explain to the audience why they should share your perspective on the item at hand.
- Choose a topic that you already know about and feel strongly that your audience should share your views on this topic. For this type of presentation, you will be taking your knowledge and expanding it. You can search for items that support your side and also take some time to review the data provided by those that support the opposite side of the issue.
Ready to Begin: Inspiration
Now it is your turn to persuade your audience. Be the advocate! Share your knowledge and passion with your classmates. Use this chapter, the worksheets, and your own talents to help you with the process of writing, researching, outlining, and presenting. Take your time with each step and enjoy the process. Below are some voices of advocates discussing what they do and why they do it. Perhaps these stories will inspire you as you work! Survey data collected via surveymonkey.com, and some names have been changed.
Melissa S., Cystic Fibrosis Advocate
What does the term “advocate” mean to you?
Sharing your story to educate and inspire in order to further your cause.
How did you become an advocate?
I was asked to formally advocate for an organization, but in truth, I advocate for myself or my family or issues I believe in.
What do you advocate for?
I advocate for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on behalf of families who endure life with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). I advocate for policy change that betters the lives of CF families with issues surrounding disability and bettering research methods, as well as funding (from various agencies) so that research can be conducted in the most efficient, expedited, and safe fashion.
Why is it so important to advocate for your cause?
It is important because I have Cystic Fibrosis and have also lost a brother to Cystic Fibrosis. I wasn’t to ensure that my family doesn’t suffer another loss that no family should suffer.
What advice can you give others who are looking to become an advocate?
It can seem intimidating to stand in front of a group of people to advocate for your cause, but the truth is that your story, and why you’re advocating is THE most important part of it. Don’t get bogged down or scared about memorizing facts and figures – the best thing someone can take away from talking with you is the visceral reaction they get from hearing how your issue affects you and your family.
In a few sentences, describe yourself.
I am (a) decidedly optimistic person who lives with a debilitating progressive disease (Cystic Fibrosis). While having CF occupies a lot of time in my daily life, I try not to let it define me and live my life with joy and purpose. I love my family and friends and will do anything in my power to protect them. I also love standing up for things I believe in. Becoming an advocate for CF has lifted my voice and given me the confidence to speak out. Now, I can’t stop! (updated 7/2021).
D. D., Registered Nurse
Advocate means to support or fight for a cause.
I became an advocate since working within the medical field and because I am a mother.
I am an advocate for my son. He is an alcoholic and drug addict. I am involved with helping addicts and families that are in need of support and guidance. I am a volunteer for (a) local YMCA to help bring a face to the disease of addiction. I am also an advocate for people with Cystic Fibrosis. I am a Registered Nurse who has been caring for patients and families affected by this disease. I am there for medical, emotional and fundraising support.
It is important for me to put a face to the families that are suffering from these diseases. To make it more personal.
Be strong and vigilant. Really believe in what you are supporting. Passion goes a long way.
I am a mom and an RN. I am a recent widow with 2 children who have had their struggles but are now doing well. I work full time as a Nurse Manager at NY hospital.
Is there anything else that you would like to share? A story, perhaps, about a time that you felt very strongly about something, and what you did to advocate for that person or cause?
Every day I feel like I advocate for addiction. Many people do not realize addiction affects everyone. I constantly have to remind people that I meet of this. It is difficult at times because most people have the most horrible things to say about addicts. I try to educate people about addiction as much as I can.
C. B., Breast Cancer Survivor
Supporter of something you are passionate about and believe in.
I became an advocate of breast cancer through my own experience.
I am an advocate for breast cancer! This disease generally affects women but in some cases men are also affected! It is a silent beast that can creep up on you at any time in your life… it has no discrimination and age is not a factor.
It is simple… it is the difference between life and death! So many women are so afraid they choose to ignore the signs. It is so important to find your strength, face your fears and deal with this head on!!!
Speak your truth! Tell your story! You have no idea how much it can help someone else who is facing the very same fears!
I have always believed where there is a will, there is a way! I never take no for an answer when it is something really important that matters! It is one of my earliest mottos I have followed through life. I have always been determined to find my strength and face my fears even on my darkest day!!!
I feel it is so important to help women face their fears when it comes to breast cancer. It is for this reason so many do not examine themselves and/or go for mammograms. I can tell you first hand every moment counts!!!! I did one whole year of chemotherapy, lost my beautiful hair but fared through! Again I was LUCKY!! I can only hope that this will help others facing breast cancer!
- In persuasive speaking there is a lens of ethos, pathos, and logos to connect directly with this audience and engage in an advocacy mindset.
- Be sure to connect in ways that are meaningful to you as a speaker and the audience through human connection.
“Advocacy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/advocacy . Accessed 2 Jul. 2021.
“Advocacy: Inclusion, Empowerment and Human Rights.” Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), Updated Oct. 2020, www.scie.org.uk/care-act-2014/advocacy-services/commissioning-independent-advocacy/inclusion-empowerment-human-rights/types.asp .
“Advocate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/advocate .
Bonanno, G. “What does it mean to be an advocate?” Survey . November 2016.
Cialdini, Robert B., and Noah J. Goldstein. “The Science and Practice of Persuasion.” The Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly , vol. 43, no. 2, Elsevier Inc, 2002.
“Persuasion – Dictionary Definition.” Vocabulary.com , www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/persuasion .
Purdue Writing Lab. “Transitional Devices // Purdue Writing Lab.” Purdue Writing Lab , 2018, owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/mechanics/transitions_and_transitional_devices/transitional_devices.html#:~:text=Transitional%20devices%20are%20words%20or,jumps%20or%20breaks%20between%20ideas .
Marteni, Jim. “Types of Claims.” Social Science LibreTexts . Los Angeles Valley College, 3 Dec. 2020, https://socialsci.libretexts.org/@go/page/67166.
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- How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .
Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.
You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:
- Start with a question
- Write your initial answer
- Develop your answer
- Refine your thesis statement
Table of contents
What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.
A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.
The best thesis statements are:
- Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
- Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
- Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.
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The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .
The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.
You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.
You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?
For example, you might ask:
After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .
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Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.
In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.
The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.
In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.
The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.
A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:
- Why you hold this position
- What they’ll learn from your essay
- The key points of your argument or narrative
The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.
These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.
Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:
- In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
- In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.
If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :
- Ask a question about your topic .
- Write your initial answer.
- Develop your answer by including reasons.
- Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.
The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .
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Persuasive Speeches — Types, Topics, and Examples
What is a persuasive speech?
In a persuasive speech, the speaker aims to convince the audience to accept a particular perspective on a person, place, object, idea, etc. The speaker strives to cause the audience to accept the point of view presented in the speech.
The success of a persuasive speech often relies on the speaker’s use of ethos, pathos, and logos.
Ethos is the speaker’s credibility. Audiences are more likely to accept an argument if they find the speaker trustworthy. To establish credibility during a persuasive speech, speakers can do the following:
Use familiar language.
Select examples that connect to the specific audience.
Utilize credible and well-known sources.
Logically structure the speech in an audience-friendly way.
Use appropriate eye contact, volume, pacing, and inflection.
Pathos appeals to the audience’s emotions. Speakers who create an emotional bond with their audience are typically more convincing. Tapping into the audience’s emotions can be accomplished through the following:
Select evidence that can elicit an emotional response.
Use emotionally-charged words. (The city has a problem … vs. The city has a disease …)
Incorporate analogies and metaphors that connect to a specific emotion to draw a parallel between the reference and topic.
Utilize vivid imagery and sensory words, allowing the audience to visualize the information.
Employ an appropriate tone, inflection, and pace to reflect the emotion.
Logos appeals to the audience’s logic by offering supporting evidence. Speakers can improve their logical appeal in the following ways:
Use comprehensive evidence the audience can understand.
Confirm the evidence logically supports the argument’s claims and stems from credible sources.
Ensure that evidence is specific and avoid any vague or questionable information.
Types of persuasive speeches
The three main types of persuasive speeches are factual, value, and policy.
A factual persuasive speech focuses solely on factual information to prove the existence or absence of something through substantial proof. This is the only type of persuasive speech that exclusively uses objective information rather than subjective. As such, the argument does not rely on the speaker’s interpretation of the information. Essentially, a factual persuasive speech includes historical controversy, a question of current existence, or a prediction:
Historical controversy concerns whether an event happened or whether an object actually existed.
Questions of current existence involve the knowledge that something is currently happening.
Predictions incorporate the analysis of patterns to convince the audience that an event will happen again.
A value persuasive speech concerns the morality of a certain topic. Speakers incorporate facts within these speeches; however, the speaker’s interpretation of those facts creates the argument. These speeches are highly subjective, so the argument cannot be proven to be absolutely true or false.
A policy persuasive speech centers around the speaker’s support or rejection of a public policy, rule, or law. Much like a value speech, speakers provide evidence supporting their viewpoint; however, they provide subjective conclusions based on the facts they provide.
How to write a persuasive speech
Incorporate the following steps when writing a persuasive speech:
Step 1 – Identify the type of persuasive speech (factual, value, or policy) that will help accomplish the goal of the presentation.
Step 2 – Select a good persuasive speech topic to accomplish the goal and choose a position .
Step 3 – Locate credible and reliable sources and identify evidence in support of the topic/position. Revisit Step 2 if there is a lack of relevant resources.
Step 4 – Identify the audience and understand their baseline attitude about the topic.
Step 5 – When constructing an introduction , keep the following questions in mind:
What’s the topic of the speech?
What’s the occasion?
Who’s the audience?
What’s the purpose of the speech?
Step 6 – Utilize the evidence within the previously identified sources to construct the body of the speech. Keeping the audience in mind, determine which pieces of evidence can best help develop the argument. Discuss each point in detail, allowing the audience to understand how the facts support the perspective.
Step 7 – Addressing counterarguments can help speakers build their credibility, as it highlights their breadth of knowledge.
Step 8 – Conclude the speech with an overview of the central purpose and how the main ideas identified in the body support the overall argument.
Persuasive speech outline
One of the best ways to prepare a great persuasive speech is by using an outline. When structuring an outline, include an introduction, body, and conclusion:
Ask a question that allows the audience to respond in a non-verbal way; ask a rhetorical question that makes the audience think of the topic without requiring a response.
Incorporate a well-known quote that introduces the topic. Using the words of a celebrated individual gives credibility and authority to the information in the speech.
Offer a startling statement or information about the topic, typically done using data or statistics.
Provide a brief anecdote or story that relates to the topic.
Starting a speech with a humorous statement often makes the audience more comfortable with the speaker.
Provide information on how the selected topic may impact the audience .
Include any background information pertinent to the topic that the audience needs to know to understand the speech in its entirety.
Give the thesis statement in connection to the main topic and identify the main ideas that will help accomplish the central purpose.
Summarize its meaning
Explain how it helps prove the support/main claim
Evidence 3 (Continue as needed)
Support 3 (Continue as needed)
Review main supports
Give the audience a call to action to do something specific.
Identify the overall importan ce of the topic and position.
Persuasive speech topics
The following table identifies some common or interesting persuasive speech topics for high school and college students:
Persuasive speech examples
The following list identifies some of history’s most famous persuasive speeches:
John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address: “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You”
Lyndon B. Johnson: “We Shall Overcome”
Marc Antony: “Friends, Romans, Countrymen…” in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar
Ronald Reagan: “Tear Down this Wall”
Sojourner Truth: “Ain’t I a Woman?”
8 Purpose and Thesis
In this chapter . . .
As discussed in the chapter on Speaking Occasion , speechwriting begins with careful analysis of the speech occasion and its given circumstances, leading to the choice of an appropriate topic. As with essay writing, the early work of speechwriting follows familiar steps: brainstorming, research, pre-writing, thesis, and so on.
This chapter focuses on techniques that are unique to speechwriting. As a spoken form, speeches must be clear about the purpose and main idea or “takeaway.” Planned redundancy means that you will be repeating these elements several times over during the speech.
Furthermore, finding purpose and thesis are essential whether you’re preparing an outline for extemporaneous delivery or a completely written manuscript for presentation. When you know your topic, your general and specific purpose, and your thesis or central idea, you have all the elements you need to write a speech that is focused, clear, and audience friendly.
Recognizing the General Purpose
Speeches have traditionally been grouped into one of three categories according to their primary purpose: 1) to inform, 2) to persuade, or 3) to inspire, honor, or entertain. These broad goals are commonly known as the general purpose of a speech . Earlier, you learned about the actor’s tool of intention or objectives. The general purpose is like a super-objective; it defines the broadest goal of a speech. These three purposes are not necessarily exclusive to the others. A speech designed to be persuasive can also be informative and entertaining. However, a speech should have one primary goal. That is its general purpose.
Why is it helpful to talk about speeches in such broad terms? Being perfectly clear about what you want your speech to do or make happen for your audience will keep you focused. You can make a clearer distinction between whether you want your audience to leave your speech knowing more (to inform), or ready to take action (to persuade), or feeling something (to inspire)
It’s okay to use synonyms for these broad categories. Here are some of them:
- To inform could be to explain, to demonstrate, to describe, to teach.
- To persuade could be to convince, to argue, to motivate, to prove.
- To inspire might be to honor, or entertain, to celebrate, to mourn.
In summary, the first question you must ask yourself when starting to prepare a speech is, “Is the primary purpose of my speech to inform, to persuade, or to inspire?”
Articulating Specific Purpose
A specific purpose statement builds upon your general purpose and makes it specific (as the name suggests). For example, if you have been invited to give a speech about how to do something, your general purpose is “to inform.” Choosing a topic appropriate to that general purpose, you decide to speak about how to protect a personal from cyberattacks. Now you are on your way to identifying a specific purpose.
A good specific purpose statement has three elements: goal, target audience, and content.
If you think about the above as a kind of recipe, then the first two “ingredients” — your goal and your audience — should be simple. Words describing the target audience should be as specific as possible. Instead of “my peers,” you could say, for example, “students in their senior year at my university.”
The third ingredient in this recipe is content, or what we call the topic of your speech. This is where things get a bit difficult. You want your content to be specific and something that you can express succinctly in a sentence. Here are some common problems that speakers make in defining the content, and the fix:
Now you know the “recipe” for a specific purpose statement. It’s made up of T o, plus an active W ord, a specific A udience, and clearly stated C ontent. Remember this formula: T + W + A + C.
A: for a group of new students
C: the term “plagiarism”
Here are some further examples a good specific purpose statement:
- To explain to a group of first-year students how to join a school organization.
- To persuade the members of the Greek society to take a spring break trip in Daytona Beach.
- To motivate my classmates in English 101 to participate in a study abroad program.
- To convince first-year students that they need at least seven hours of sleep per night to do well in their studies.
- To inspire my Church community about the accomplishments of our pastor.
The General and Specific Purpose Statements are writing tools in the sense that they help you, as a speechwriter, clarify your ideas.
Creating a Thesis Statement
Once you are clear about your general purpose and specific purpose, you can turn your attention to crafting a thesis statement. A thesis is the central idea in an essay or a speech. In speechwriting, the thesis or central idea explains the message of the content. It’s the speech’s “takeaway.” A good thesis statement will also reveal and clarify the ideas or assertions you’ll be addressing in your speech (your main points). Consider this example:
General Purpose: To persuade. Specific Purpose: To motivate my classmates in English 101 to participate in a study abroad program. Thesis: A semester-long study abroad experience produces lifelong benefits by teaching you about another culture, developing your language skills, and enhancing your future career prospects.
The difference between a specific purpose statement and a thesis statement is clear in this example. The thesis provides the takeaway (the lifelong benefits of study abroad). It also points to the assertions that will be addressed in the speech. Like the specific purpose statement, the thesis statement is a writing tool. You’ll incorporate it into your speech, usually as part of the introduction and conclusion.
All good expository, rhetorical, and even narrative writing contains a thesis. Many students and even experienced writers struggle with formulating a thesis. We struggle when we attempt to “come up with something” before doing the necessary research and reflection. A thesis only becomes clear through the thinking and writing process. As you develop your speech content, keep asking yourself: What is important here? If the audience can remember only one thing about this topic, what do I want them to remember?
Example #2: General Purpose: To inform Specific Purpose: To demonstrate to my audience the correct method for cleaning a computer keyboard. Central Idea: Your computer keyboard needs regular cleaning to function well, and you can achieve that in four easy steps.
Example # 3 General Purpose: To Inform Specific Purpose: To describe how makeup is done for the TV show The Walking Dead . Central Idea: The wildly popular zombie show The Walking Dead achieves incredibly scary and believable makeup effects, and in the next few minutes I will tell you who does it, what they use, and how they do it.
Notice in the examples above that neither the specific purpose nor the central idea ever exceeds one sentence. If your central idea consists of more than one sentence, then you are probably including too much information.
Problems to Avoid
The first problem many students have in writing their specific purpose statement has already been mentioned: specific purpose statements sometimes try to cover far too much and are too broad. For example:
“To explain to my classmates the history of ballet.”
Aside from the fact that this subject may be difficult for everyone in your audience to relate to, it’s enough for a three-hour lecture, maybe even a whole course. You’ll probably find that your first attempt at a specific purpose statement will need refining. These examples are much more specific and much more manageable given the limited amount of time you’ll have.
- To explain to my classmates how ballet came to be performed and studied in the U.S.
- To explain to my classmates the difference between Russian and French ballet.
- To explain to my classmates how ballet originated as an art form in the Renaissance.
- To explain to my classmates the origin of the ballet dancers’ clothing.
The second problem happens when the “communication verb” in the specific purpose does not match the content; for example, persuasive content is paired with “to inform” or “to explain.” Can you find the errors in the following purpose statements?
- To inform my audience why capital punishment is unconstitutional. (This is persuasive. It can’t be informative since it’s taking a side)
- To persuade my audience about the three types of individual retirement accounts. (Even though the purpose statement says “persuade,” it isn’t persuading the audience of anything. It is informative.)
- To inform my classmates that Universal Studios is a better theme park than Six Flags over Georgia. (This is clearly an opinion; hence it is a persuasive speech and not merely informative)
The third problem exists when the content part of the specific purpose statement has two parts. One specific purpose is enough. These examples cover two different topics.
- To explain to my audience how to swing a golf club and choose the best golf shoes.
- To persuade my classmates to be involved in the Special Olympics and vote to fund better classes for the intellectually disabled.
To fix this problem of combined or hybrid purposes, you’ll need to select one of the topics in these examples and speak on that one alone.
The fourth problem with both specific purpose and central idea statements is related to formatting. There are some general guidelines that need to be followed in terms of how you write out these elements of your speech:
- Don’t write either statement as a question.
- Always use complete sentences for central idea statements and infinitive phrases (beginning with “to”) for the specific purpose statement.
- Use concrete language (“I admire Beyoncé for being a talented performer and businesswoman”) and avoid subjective or slang terms (“My speech is about why I think Beyoncé is the bomb”) or jargon and acronyms (“PLA is better than CBE for adult learners.”)
There are also problems to avoid in writing the central idea statement. As mentioned above, remember that:
- The specific purpose and central idea statements are not the same thing, although they are related.
- The central idea statement should be clear and not complicated or wordy; it should “stand out” to the audience. As you practice delivery, you should emphasize it with your voice.
- The central idea statement should not be the first thing you say but should follow the steps of a good introduction as outlined in the next chapters.
You should be aware that all aspects of your speech are constantly going to change as you move toward the moment of giving your speech. The exact wording of your central idea may change, and you can experiment with different versions for effectiveness. However, your specific purpose statement should not change unless there is a good reason to do so. There are many aspects to consider in the seemingly simple task of writing a specific purpose statement and its companion, the central idea statement. Writing good ones at the beginning will save you some trouble later in the speech preparation process.
Public Speaking as Performance Copyright © 2023 by Mechele Leon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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Speech Thesis Statement Examples, How to Write, Tips
What is a Speech Thesis Statement? – Definition
What is an example of speech thesis statement, 100 speech thesis statement examples.
- “Today, I will convince you that renewable energy sources are the key to a sustainable and cleaner future.”
- “In this speech, I will explore the importance of mental health awareness and advocate for breaking the stigma surrounding it.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that adopting a plant-based diet contributes not only to personal health but also to environmental preservation.”
- “In this speech, I will discuss the benefits of exercise on cognitive function and share practical tips for integrating physical activity into our daily routines.”
- “Today, I’ll argue that access to quality education is a fundamental right for all, and I’ll present strategies to bridge the educational gap.”
- “My speech centers around the significance of arts education in fostering creativity, critical thinking, and overall cognitive development in students.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll shed light on the impact of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems and inspire actionable steps toward plastic reduction.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that stricter regulations on social media platforms are imperative to combat misinformation and protect user privacy.”
- “Today, I’ll discuss the importance of empathy in building strong interpersonal relationships and provide techniques to cultivate empathy in daily interactions.”
- “In this speech, I’ll present the case for implementing universal healthcare, emphasizing its benefits for both individual health and societal well-being.”
- “My speech highlights the urgency of addressing climate change and calls for international collaboration in reducing carbon emissions.”
- “I will argue that the arts play a crucial role in fostering cultural understanding, breaking down stereotypes, and promoting global harmony.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll advocate for the preservation of endangered species and offer strategies to contribute to wildlife conservation efforts.”
- “Today, I’ll discuss the power of effective time management in enhancing productivity and share practical techniques to prioritize tasks.”
- “My aim is to convince you that raising the minimum wage is vital to reducing income inequality and improving the overall quality of life.”
- “In this speech, I’ll explore the societal implications of automation and artificial intelligence and propose strategies for a smooth transition into the future.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll emphasize the significance of volunteering in community development and suggest ways to get involved in meaningful initiatives.”
- “I will argue that stricter regulations on fast food advertising are necessary to address the growing obesity epidemic among children and adolescents.”
- “Today, I’ll discuss the importance of financial literacy in personal empowerment and provide practical advice for making informed financial decisions.”
- “My speech focuses on the value of cultural diversity in enriching society, fostering understanding, and promoting a more inclusive world.”
- “In this speech, I’ll present the case for investing in renewable energy technologies to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on future generations.”
- “I will argue that embracing failure as a stepping stone to success is crucial for personal growth and achieving one’s fullest potential.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll examine the impact of social media on mental health and offer strategies to maintain a healthy online presence.”
- “Today, I’ll emphasize the importance of effective communication skills in professional success and share tips for honing these skills.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that stricter gun control measures are essential to reduce gun-related violence and ensure public safety.”
- “In this speech, I’ll discuss the significance of cultural preservation and the role of heritage sites in maintaining the identity and history of communities.”
- “I will argue that promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace leads to enhanced creativity, collaboration, and overall organizational success.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll explore the impact of social media on political engagement and discuss ways to critically evaluate online information sources.”
- “Today, I’ll present the case for investing in public transportation infrastructure to alleviate traffic congestion, reduce pollution, and enhance urban mobility.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that implementing mindfulness practices in schools can improve students’ focus, emotional well-being, and overall academic performance.”
- “In this speech, I’ll discuss the importance of supporting local businesses for economic growth, community vibrancy, and sustainable development.”
- “I will argue that fostering emotional intelligence in children equips them with crucial skills for interpersonal relationships, empathy, and conflict resolution.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll emphasize the need for comprehensive sex education that addresses consent, healthy relationships, and informed decision-making.”
- “Today, I’ll explore the benefits of embracing a minimalist lifestyle for mental clarity, reduced stress, and a more mindful and sustainable way of living.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that sustainable farming practices are essential for preserving ecosystems, ensuring food security, and mitigating climate change.”
- “In this speech, I’ll discuss the importance of civic engagement in democracy and provide strategies for individuals to get involved in their communities.”
- “I will argue that investing in early childhood education not only benefits individual children but also contributes to a stronger and more prosperous society.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll examine the impact of social media on body image dissatisfaction and offer strategies to promote body positivity and self-acceptance.”
- “Today, I’ll present the case for stricter regulations on e-cigarette marketing and sales to curb youth vaping and protect public health.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that exploring nature and spending time outdoors is essential for mental and physical well-being in our technology-driven world.”
- “In this speech, I’ll discuss the implications of automation on employment and suggest strategies for reskilling and preparing for the future of work.”
- “I will argue that embracing failure as a valuable learning experience fosters resilience, innovation, and personal growth, leading to ultimate success.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll emphasize the significance of media literacy in discerning credible information from fake news and ensuring informed decision-making.”
- “Today, I’ll explore the benefits of implementing universal healthcare, focusing on improved access to medical services and enhanced public health outcomes.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that embracing sustainable travel practices can minimize the environmental impact of tourism and promote cultural exchange.”
- “In this speech, I’ll present the case for criminal justice reform, highlighting the importance of alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders.”
- “I will argue that instilling a growth mindset in students enhances their motivation, learning abilities, and willingness to face challenges.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll discuss the implications of artificial intelligence on the job market and propose strategies for adapting to automation-driven changes.”
- “Today, I’ll emphasize the importance of digital privacy awareness and provide practical tips to safeguard personal information online.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that investing in renewable energy sources is crucial not only for environmental sustainability but also for economic growth.”
- “In this speech, I’ll discuss the significance of cultural preservation and the role of heritage sites in maintaining a sense of identity and history.”
- “I will argue that promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace leads to improved creativity, collaboration, and overall organizational performance.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll explore the impact of social media on political engagement and offer strategies to critically assess online information.”
- “Today, I’ll present the case for investing in public transportation to alleviate traffic congestion, reduce emissions, and enhance urban mobility.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that implementing mindfulness practices in schools can enhance students’ focus, emotional well-being, and academic achievement.”
- “In this speech, I’ll discuss the importance of supporting local businesses for economic growth, community vitality, and sustainable development.”
- “I will argue that fostering emotional intelligence in children equips them with essential skills for healthy relationships, empathy, and conflict resolution.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll emphasize the need for comprehensive sex education that includes consent, healthy relationships, and informed decision-making.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that sustainable farming practices are vital for preserving ecosystems, ensuring food security, and combating climate change.”
- “In this speech, I’ll discuss the importance of civic engagement in democracy and provide strategies for individuals to actively participate in their communities.”
- “I will argue that investing in early childhood education benefits not only individual children but also contributes to a stronger and more prosperous society.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll examine the impact of social media on body image dissatisfaction and suggest strategies to promote body positivity and self-acceptance.”
- “Today, I’ll present the case for stricter regulations on e-cigarette marketing and sales to combat youth vaping and protect public health.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that connecting with nature and spending time outdoors is essential for mental and physical well-being in our technology-driven world.”
- “In this speech, I’ll discuss the implications of automation on employment and suggest strategies for reskilling and adapting to the changing job landscape.”
- “I will argue that embracing failure as a valuable learning experience fosters resilience, innovation, and personal growth, ultimately leading to success.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll emphasize the significance of media literacy in discerning credible information from fake news and making informed decisions.”
- “Today, I’ll explore the benefits of implementing universal healthcare, focusing on improved access to medical services and better public health outcomes.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that adopting sustainable travel practices can minimize the environmental impact of tourism and promote cultural exchange.”
- “I will argue that instilling a growth mindset in students enhances their motivation, learning abilities, and readiness to tackle challenges.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll discuss the implications of artificial intelligence on the job market and propose strategies for adapting to the changing landscape.”
- “Today, I’ll emphasize the importance of digital privacy awareness and provide practical tips to safeguard personal information in the online world.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that investing in renewable energy sources is essential for both environmental sustainability and economic growth.”
- “In this speech, I’ll discuss the transformative power of art therapy in promoting mental well-being and share real-life success stories.”
- “I will argue that promoting gender equality not only empowers women but also contributes to economic growth and social progress.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll explore the impact of technology on interpersonal relationships and offer strategies to maintain meaningful connections.”
- “Today, I’ll present the case for sustainable fashion choices, emphasizing their positive effects on the environment and ethical manufacturing practices.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that investing in early childhood education is an investment in the future, leading to a more educated and equitable society.”
- “In this speech, I’ll discuss the significance of community service in building strong communities and share personal stories of volunteering experiences.”
- “I will argue that fostering emotional intelligence in children lays the foundation for a harmonious and empathetic society.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll emphasize the importance of teaching critical thinking skills in education and how they empower individuals to navigate a complex world.”
- “Today, I’ll explore the benefits of embracing a growth mindset in personal and professional development, leading to continuous learning and improvement.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that conscious consumerism can drive positive change in industries by supporting ethical practices and environmentally friendly products.”
- “In this speech, I’ll present the case for renewable energy as a solution to energy security, reduced carbon emissions, and a cleaner environment.”
- “I will argue that investing in mental health support systems is essential for the well-being of individuals and society as a whole.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll discuss the role of music therapy in enhancing mental health and promoting emotional expression and healing.”
- “Today, I’ll emphasize the importance of embracing cultural diversity to foster global understanding, harmony, and peaceful coexistence.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that incorporating mindfulness practices into daily routines can lead to reduced stress and increased overall well-being.”
- “In this speech, I’ll discuss the implications of genetic engineering and gene editing technologies on ethical considerations and future generations.”
- “I will argue that investing in renewable energy infrastructure not only mitigates climate change but also generates job opportunities and economic growth.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll explore the impact of social media on political polarization and offer strategies for promoting constructive online discourse.”
- “Today, I’ll present the case for embracing experiential learning in education, focusing on hands-on experiences that enhance comprehension and retention.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that practicing gratitude can lead to improved mental health, increased happiness, and a more positive outlook on life.”
- “In this speech, I’ll discuss the importance of teaching financial literacy in schools to equip students with essential money management skills.”
- “I will argue that promoting sustainable agriculture practices is essential to ensure food security, protect ecosystems, and combat climate change.”
- “Through this speech, I’ll emphasize the need for greater awareness of mental health issues in society and the importance of reducing stigma.”
- “Today, I’ll explore the benefits of incorporating arts and creativity into STEM education to foster innovation, critical thinking, and problem-solving.”
- “My aim is to persuade you that practicing mindfulness and meditation can lead to improved focus, reduced anxiety, and enhanced overall well-being.”
Speech Thesis Statement for Introduction
- “Welcome to an exploration of the power of storytelling and its ability to bridge cultures and foster understanding across diverse backgrounds.”
- “In this introductory speech, we delve into the realm of artificial intelligence, examining its potential to reshape industries and redefine human capabilities.”
- “Join us as we navigate the fascinating world of space exploration and the role of technological advancements in uncovering the mysteries of the universe.”
- “Through this speech, we embark on a journey through history, highlighting pivotal moments that have shaped civilizations and continue to inspire change.”
- “Today, we embark on a discussion about the significance of empathy in our interactions, exploring how it can enrich our connections and drive positive change.”
- “In this opening address, we dive into the realm of sustainable living, exploring practical steps to reduce our environmental footprint and promote eco-consciousness.”
- “Join us as we explore the evolution of communication, from ancient symbols to modern technology, and its impact on how we connect and convey ideas.”
- “Welcome to an exploration of the intricate relationship between art and emotion, uncovering how artistic expression transcends language barriers and unites humanity.”
- “In this opening statement, we examine the changing landscape of work and career, discussing strategies to navigate career transitions and embrace lifelong learning.”
- “Today, we delve into the concept of resilience and its role in facing adversity, offering insights into how resilience can empower us to overcome challenges.”
Speech Thesis Statement for Graduation
- “As we stand on the threshold of a new chapter, let’s reflect on our journey, celebrate our achievements, and embrace the uncertainties that lie ahead.”
- “In this graduation address, we celebrate not only our academic accomplishments but also the personal growth, resilience, and friendships that have enriched our years here.”
- “As we step into the world beyond academia, let’s remember that learning is a lifelong journey, and the skills we’ve honed will propel us toward success.”
- “Today, we bid farewell to the familiar and embrace the unknown, armed with the knowledge that every challenge we face is an opportunity for growth.”
- “In this commencement speech, we acknowledge the collective accomplishments of our class and embrace the responsibility to contribute positively to the world.”
- “As we graduate, let’s carry with us the values instilled by our education, applying them not only in our careers but also in shaping a more just and compassionate society.”
- “Join me in celebrating the diversity of talents and perspectives that define our graduating class, and let’s channel our unique strengths to make a meaningful impact.”
- “Today, we honor the culmination of our academic pursuits and embrace the journey of continuous learning that will shape our personal and professional paths.”
- “In this graduation address, we acknowledge the support of our families, educators, and peers, recognizing that our successes are a testament to shared effort.”
- “As we don our caps and gowns, let’s remember that our education equips us not only with knowledge but also with the power to effect positive change in the world.”
Speech Thesis Statement For Acceptance
- “I am humbled and honored by this recognition, and I pledge to use this platform to amplify the voices of the marginalized and work toward equity.”
- “As I accept this award, I express my gratitude to those who believed in my potential, and I commit to using my skills to contribute meaningfully to our community.”
- “Receiving this honor is a testament to the collaborative efforts that make achievements possible. I am dedicated to sharing this success with those who supported me.”
- “Accepting this award, I am reminded of the responsibility that accompanies it. I vow to continue striving for excellence and inspiring those around me.”
- “As I receive this recognition, I extend my deepest appreciation to my mentors, colleagues, and family, and I promise to pay it forward by mentoring the next generation.”
- “Accepting this accolade, I recognize that success is a team effort. I commit to fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation in all my endeavors.”
- “Receiving this honor, I am reminded of the privilege I have to effect change. I dedicate myself to leveraging this platform for the betterment of society.”
- “Accepting this award, I am grateful for the opportunities that have shaped my journey. I am committed to using my influence to uplift others and drive positive change.”
- “As I stand here, I am deeply moved by this recognition. I pledge to use this honor as a catalyst for making a meaningful impact on the lives of those I encounter.”
- “Accepting this distinction, I embrace the responsibility it brings. I promise to uphold the values that guided me to this moment and channel my efforts toward progress.”
Speech Thesis Statement in Extemporaneous
- “On the topic of technological disruption, we explore its effects on job markets, emphasizing the importance of upskilling for the workforce’s evolving demands.”
- “In this impromptu speech, we dissect the complexities of global climate agreements, assessing their impact on environmental sustainability and international cooperation.”
- “Addressing the issue of cyberbullying, we examine its psychological consequences, potential legal remedies, and strategies to create safer online spaces.”
- “Discussing the merits of universal basic income, we weigh its potential to alleviate poverty, stimulate economic growth, and reshape the social safety net.”
- “As we delve into the debate on genetically modified organisms, we consider the benefits of increased crop yields, while also evaluating environmental and health concerns.”
- “On the topic of urbanization, we analyze its benefits in fostering economic growth and cultural exchange, while addressing challenges of infrastructure and inequality.”
- “Delving into the controversy surrounding artificial intelligence, we explore its transformative potential in various sectors, touching on ethical considerations and fears of job displacement.”
- “In this impromptu speech, we examine the impact of social media on political discourse, highlighting the role of echo chambers and the need for critical thinking.”
- “Addressing the issue of mental health stigma, we discuss the societal barriers that prevent seeking help, while advocating for open conversations and destigmatization.”
- “Discussing the concept of ethical consumerism, we weigh the impact of consumer choices on industries, environment, and labor rights, emphasizing the power of informed purchasing.”
Speech Thesis Statement in Argumentative Essay
- “In this argumentative speech, we assert that mandatory voting fosters civic participation and strengthens democracy by ensuring diverse voices are heard.”
- “Advocating for stricter gun control, we contend that regulations on firearm access are vital for public safety, reducing gun violence, and preventing tragedies.”
- “Arguing for the benefits of school uniforms, we posit that uniforms promote a focused learning environment, reduce socioeconomic disparities, and enhance school spirit.”
- “In this persuasive speech, we assert that capital punishment should be abolished due to its potential for wrongful executions, lack of deterrence, and ethical concerns.”
- “Taking a stand against standardized testing, we argue that these assessments stifle creativity, promote rote learning, and fail to measure true intellectual potential.”
- “Defending the benefits of renewable energy, we assert that transitioning to sustainable sources will mitigate climate change, create jobs, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.”
- “Addressing the merits of open borders, we contend that welcoming immigrants bolsters cultural diversity, contributes to economic growth, and upholds humanitarian values.”
- “In this persuasive speech, we argue against the use of animal testing, asserting that modern alternatives exist to ensure scientific progress without unnecessary suffering.”
- “Advocating for comprehensive sex education, we assert that teaching about contraception, consent, and healthy relationships equips students to make informed choices.”
- “Arguing for universal healthcare, we posit that accessible medical services are a basic human right, contributing to improved public health, reduced disparities, and economic stability.”
Is There a Thesis Statement in a Speech?
What is the thesis structure of a speech.
- Topic: Clearly state the topic or subject of your speech. This provides the context for your thesis and gives the audience an idea of the subject matter.
- Main Idea or Argument: Present the main point you want to make or the central argument you’ll be discussing in your speech. This should be a concise and focused statement that encapsulates the essence of your message.
- Supporting Points: Optionally, you can include a brief overview of the main supporting points or arguments that you’ll elaborate on in the body of your speech. This gives the audience an outline of what to expect.
How Do You Write a Speech Thesis Statement? – Step by Step Guide
- Choose Your Topic: Select a topic that is relevant to your audience and aligns with the purpose of your speech.
- Identify Your Main Message: Determine the central message or argument you want to convey. What is the key takeaway you want your audience to remember?
- Craft a Concise Statement: Write a clear and concise sentence that captures the essence of your main message. Make sure it’s specific and avoids vague language.
- Consider Your Audience: Tailor your thesis statement to your audience’s level of understanding and interests. Use language that resonates with them.
- Review and Refine: Read your thesis statement aloud to ensure it sounds natural and engaging. Refine it as needed to make it compelling.
Tips for Writing a Speech Thesis Statement
- Be Specific: A strong thesis statement is specific and focused. Avoid vague or general statements.
- Avoid Jargon: Use language that your audience can easily understand, avoiding complex jargon or technical terms unless you explain them.
- One Main Idea: Stick to one main idea or argument. Multiple ideas can confuse your audience.
- Preview Supporting Points: If applicable, briefly preview the main supporting points you’ll cover in your speech.
- Reflect the Purpose: Your thesis should reflect the purpose of your speech—whether it’s to inform, persuade, entertain, or inspire.
- Keep It Concise: A thesis statement is not a paragraph. Keep it to a single sentence that encapsulates your message.
- Practice Pronunciation: If your thesis statement includes challenging words or terms, practice pronouncing them clearly.
- Test for Clarity: Ask someone to listen to your thesis statement and summarize what they understood from it. This can help you gauge its clarity.
- Revise as Necessary: Don’t be afraid to revise your thesis statement as you refine your speech. It’s important that it accurately represents your content.
- Capture Interest: Craft your thesis statement in a way that captures the audience’s interest and curiosity, encouraging them to listen attentively.
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What Is a Good Persuasive Speech Thesis Like?
Writing a thesis is the most important stage in the preparation of your persuasive speech once you have chosen its topic. Its aim is to express your stance on the issue, present the strongest argument in its favour as well as grab your listeners’ attention. Therefore, allow yourself plenty of time for formulating the thesis , as it will help you organize your thoughts and ideas.
Firstly, when you are formulating a thesis for a persuasive speech , decide on the aim that you want to achieve at your presentation. In most cases the objective of the persuasive speech is to trigger off some response on the part of the audience, namely to make them feel in a certain way about the issue. Your next step would be to define your view of the situation clearly and directly and give reasons you base your opinion on. You are not supposed to present all your arguments in the speech thesis , so just opt for the most convincing ones. Remember that it should only summarize the points you are going to dwell on in a detailed way, but make sure it engages your listeners and holds their interest. What makes a speech thesis compelling for the audience? It has to be easy to understand and remember and show that your research raises an important up-to-date issue that affects their lives. Lastly, do not be afraid to reconsider and reformulate your thesis if it does not live up to your expectations, as only practice makes perfect!
All in all, approach developing a thesis seriously , as it is the cornerstone of your speech and will assist you in constructing the outline of it. Clear, concise and compelling – these are the three ‘C’s of a successful persuasive speech thesis !
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Persuasive Speech Examples
16 Best Persuasive Speech Examples for Students
Published on: Dec 12, 2018
Last updated on: Nov 9, 2023
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Persuasive speech is a type of speech where the speaker tries to convince the audience of his point of view.
For most people, writing and delivering a persuasive speech can seem difficult. However, with the help of examples and some good tips, you can write an effective speech.
In this blog, you can find some amazing examples that you can use to follow and take inspiration. You can easily download and read these examples whenever you need help with writing your persuasive speech.
So, let’s read on!
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Good Persuasive Speech Examples
Picking an interesting and engaging topic for your persuasive speech is crucial. With the help of some good persuasive speech examples, you can easily get through the persuasive speech writing process.
Here are some good persuasive speech examples that will help you get inspired. Get help from these examples and save yourself time.
Famous Persuasive Speech Examples
Policy Persuasive Speech Examples
How to Start a Persuasive Speech Examples
After hours of writing and practicing, here comes a time for delivering the speech. As soon as you start your speech, you notice that people are talking to each other, checking their phones, changing seats, and doing everything but paying attention to you.
Why is that?
That might be because of your boring and mundane start to the speech. The beginning of your speech decides how long the audience will tune into your speech. If you don’t get them interested in your speech right from the start, there are few chances that they will pay attention to your message.
Here is an example speech that demonstrates how to begin your speech effectively:
How to Start a Speech Example
Apart from the technique used in this example, here are five effective ways to kick-start your speech:
- Start With a Famous Quote
Opening with a famous and relevant quote helps you make a good impression on the audience’s mind. It helps you set the tone for the rest of your speech.
For example: “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” – Patrick Henry
- Ask a Rhetorical Question
Asking a rhetorical question at the beginning of your speech arouses the audience's curiosity. It is an effective way of engaging and understanding your audience.
For example: “Do you want to be a failure for the rest of your life?”
- Make a Shocking Statement
You can start with a shocking statement by keeping the audience guessing what you are about to say next. A shocking or interesting statement gets people immediately involved and listening to your every word.
For example: "Imagine a world where the air we breathe is more expensive than the food we eat."
- Create a ‘what If’ Scenario
Asking a ‘what if’ question makes the audience follow your thought process. They immediately start thinking about what could be the answer to your ‘what if’ scenario.
For example: “What if we don’t wake up tomorrow? How different are we today?”
- Use a Surprising Statistic
A surprising statistic that resonates with your audience helps you get your message across right away. Real, shocking statistics have the potential to trigger the audience’s emotional appeal.
For example: "Did you know that 7.5 million plastic bottles are discarded every hour in the United States?"
By following any of these tips, you can easily grab the audience’s attention every time.
How to Write a Persuasive Speech - Examples
Persuasive speech writing is an interesting task if you are familiar with the steps. This speech example demonstrates how to write a speech step by step. Use this example to write a successful persuasive speech that is both interesting and appealing to the audience.
How to Write a Persuasive Speech Example
Persuasive Speech Outline Examples
The standard persuasive speech outline consists of an introduction, body, and conclusion. Making a well-structured outline for your speech is the best way to ensure success.
Here is an outline example to help you structure your speech.
Persuasive Speech Outline Template PDF
Persuasive Speech Examples for High School Students
Speech writing and speech competition are common activities in schools. It helps students learn and enhance their public speaking skills and critical thinking.
Here are some persuasive speech examples for high school-level students.
Persuasive Speech Example for High School
Persuasive Speech Example for Highschool Students
Persuasive Speech Examples for College Students
If you are a college student looking for an example to help with your persuasive speech, look no further. Check out these examples below.
Persuasive Speech Examples College
Persuasive Speech Examples About Social Media
Short Persuasive Speech Examples for Students
In most cases, the speaker has limited time to deliver their speech. The following short persuasive examples show speeches that are written with specific time limits in mind. These will help you understand how long your speech should be for an allotted time.
3 Minute Persuasive Speech Example PDF
2 Minute Persuasive Speech Example
Short Persuasive Speech Examples About Life (PDF)
5 Minute Persuasive Speech Example
Funny Persuasive Speech Examples
Persuasive speeches often deal with serious topics. However, they can be for fun and entertainment as well! Here is an example of a funny, persuasive speech.
Funny Persuasive Speech Example
Motivational Persuasive Speech Examples
A motivational speech is a type of persuasive speech where the speaker intended to motivate the audience.
Below are some motivational persuasive speech examples.
Motivational Speech Example
Call to Action Persuasive Speech
Finally, here’s a persuasive speech example from real life. You can watch this persuasive TED talk that aims to convince the audience to quit social media:
Good Persuasive Speech Topics
Now that you’ve checked out some examples, you are ready to start writing your own persuasive speech. But what should you write about? Here are some amazing persuasive speech ideas for you.
- The shift to sustainable transportation is long overdue.
- Adopting a plant-based diet is the best way to ensure personal and environmental well-being.
- Promoting financial literacy education is the key to economic empowerment.
- Raising the minimum wage is a necessity for livable incomes.
- Opt-out organ donation can save more lives.
- Food deserts must be confronted to ensure equal access to healthy nutrition.
- Individual responsibility plays a crucial role in fighting climate change.
- Social media's negative impact on mental health is widespread.
- Stricter gun control measures are vital for balancing Second Amendment rights with public safety.
- Shifting to sustainable energy sources is an urgent matter.
Need more ideas? Check out 250+ persuasive speech topics to find the best topic for your speech.
With the help of these examples, you can deliver a captivating address to persuade the audience listening to your speech.
However, remember that only having a great topic and structured outline is not enough. You should establish an emotional connection, maintain proper body language, and support your arguments with facts to make a successful speech.
Moreover, if you need help from experts, we’ve got you covered. Our fast essay writing service is experienced in providing perfect speeches within your deadline. Also, we craft unique persuasive speeches from scratch, according to your custom requirements.
So buy speech from professional writers today!
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An Example of a Persuasive Speech Outline to Win Over Your Audience in 2023
Leah Nguyen • 04 Oct 2023 • 5 min read
The art of persuasion is no easy feat. But with a strategic outline guiding your message, you can effectively convince others of your viewpoint on even the most controversial topics.
Today, we’re sharing an example of a persuasive speech outline you can use as a template for crafting your own convincing presentations.
Table of Contents
The three pillars of persuasion, 6-minute persuasive speech examples, 3-minute persuasive speech examples, bottom line, frequently asked questions.
Tips for Audience Engagement
- Speech Persuasive Examples
- Short Persuasive Speech Examples
Start in seconds.
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Want to move the masses with your message? Master the magical art of persuasion by tapping into the holy-grail trifecta of ethos, pathos and logos.
Ethos – Ethos refers to establishing credibility and character. Speakers use ethos to convince the audience they are a trusted, knowledgeable source on the topic. Tactics include citing expertise, credentials or experience. The audience is more likely to be swayed by someone they perceive as genuine and authoritative.
Pathos – Pathos utilises emotion to persuade. It aims to tap into the audience’s feelings by triggering emotions like fear, happiness, outrage and such. Stories, anecdotes, passionate delivery and language that tugs at the heartstrings are tools used to connect on a human level and make the topic feel relevant. This builds empathy and buy-in.
Logos – Logos relies on facts, statistics, logical reasoning and evidence to rationally convince the audience. Data, expert quotes, proof points and clearly explained critical thinking guide listeners to the conclusion through objective-seeming justifications.
The most effective persuasive strategies incorporate all three approaches – establishing ethos to build speaker credibility, employing pathos to engage emotions, and utilising logos to back assertions through facts and logic.
Example of a Persuasive Speech Outline
Here is an example outline for a 6-minute persuasive speech on why schools should start later:
Title : Starting School Later Will Benefit Students’ Health and Performance
Specific Purpose : To persuade my audience that high schools should start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. to align better with teenagers’ natural sleep cycles.
I. Introduction A. Adolescents are chronically sleep-deprived due to early start times B. Lack of sleep harms health, safety and learning ability C. Delaying school start by even 30 minutes could make a difference
II. Body Paragraph 1 : Early times contradict biology A. Teens’ circadian rhythms shift to late-night/morning pattern B. Most do not get sufficient rest due to obligations like sports C. Studies link lack of sleep to obesity, depression and dangers
III. Body Paragraph 2 : Laters starts to boost academics A. Alert, well-rested teens demonstrate improved test scores B. Attention, focus and memory all benefit from adequate sleep C. Fewer absences and tardies reported at later-starting schools
IV. Body Paragraph 3: Community support available A. American Academy of Pediatrics, medical groups endorse change B. Adjusting schedules is feasible and other districts had success C. Later start times are a small change with a large impact
V. Conclusion A. Prioritising student wellness should motivate policy revision B. Delaying the start by even 30 minutes could transform outcomes C. I urge support for biologically aligned school start times
This is an example of a persuasive speech pitching a business proposal to a potential investor:
Title : Investing in a Mobile Car Wash App
Specific Purpose : To convince investors to back the development of a new on-demand mobile car wash app.
I. Introduction A. My experience in the car care and app development industries B. Gap in the market for a convenient, tech-enabled car wash solution C. Preview of potential and investment opportunity
I I. Body Paragraph 1: Large untapped market A. Majority of car owners dislike traditional wash methods B. On-demand economy has disrupted many industries C. App would remove barriers and attract new customers
III. Body Paragraph 2: Superior customer value proposition A. Schedule washes on the go with just a few taps B. Washers come directly to the customer’s location C. Transparent pricing and optional upgrades
IV. Body Paragraph 3: Strong financial projections A. Conservative usage and customer acquisition forecasts B. Multiple revenue streams from washes and add-ons C. Projected 5-year ROI and exit valuation
V. Conclusion: A. Gap in the market represents a huge opportunity B. Experienced team and developed app prototype C. Seeking $500,000 seed funding for the app launch D. This is a chance to get in early on the next big thing
In 3 minutes you need a clear thesis, 2-3 main arguments reinforced with facts/examples, and a concise conclusion recapping your request.
Example 1: Title: schools should switch to a 4-day school week Specific purpose: persuade the school board to adopt a 4-day school week schedule. Main points: longer days can cover required learning, increase teacher retention, and save on transportation costs. A longer weekend means more recovery time.
Example 2: Title: companies should offer a 4-day workweek Specific purpose: persuade my manager to propose a 4-day workweek pilot program to upper management Main points: increased productivity, lower costs from less overtime, higher employee satisfaction and less burnout which benefits retention.
Example 3: Title: high schools should allow cell phones in class Specific purpose: convince the PTA to recommend a change in the cell phone policy at my high school Main points: most teachers now use cell phones as educational tools, they engage digital native students, and an occasional approved personal use boosts mental health.
Example 4: Title: all cafeterias should offer vegetarian/vegan options Specific purpose: persuade the school board to implement a universal vegetarian/vegan option in all public school cafeterias Main points: it’s healthier, more environmentally sustainable, and respectful of various student diets and beliefs.
An effective outline serves as the backbone for a persuasive presentation that can inspire change.
It ensures your message is clear, cohesive and backed by strong evidence so that your audience leaves empowered instead of confused.
While crafting compelling content is key, taking the time to strategically structure your outline gives you the best chance of winning hearts and minds.
What should a persuasive speech outline look like?
A persuasive speech outline means each point should support your overall thesis. It includes credible sources/references for evidence and also considers anticipated objections and counterarguments. The language should be clear, concise and conversational for oral delivery.
What is an outline for a speech example?
A speech outline should include these sections: Introduction (attention grabber, thesis, preview), body paragraph (state your points and counterarguments ), and a conclusion (wrap up everything from your speech).
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