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Public Speaking Tips & Speech Topics

258 Speech Topics on Health [Persuasive, Informative, Argumentative]

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Jim Peterson has over 20 years experience on speech writing. He wrote over 300 free speech topic ideas and how-to guides for any kind of public speaking and speech writing assignments at My Speech Class.

Here is our collection of persuasive and informative speech topics on health and fitness. Interesting issues and themes on topics from ionizing radiation of cell phones to food additives or infant nutrition. And yes, they are just to spice up your own thoughts!

In this article:



health fitness speech

  • Wearing pajamas in bed is good for your health.
  • Diet beverages are often not diet at all and regular not quite regular.
  • Going barefoot in the summer time – yep, wearing no shoes – is healthy for your feet.
  • Take a test to see if you are at risk for any dangerous disease or virus.
  • Why you should not work too hard when you’re diabetic.
  • Why breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
  • Fast food restaurants should offer healthier options.
  • Do you think schools should teach sex education?
  • People who live in big cities will die sooner.
  • Too much salt is bad for your health.
  • The amount of meat consumed should be reduced.
  • People should care more about sleep.
  • Rape and sexual assault prevention and awareness should be taught in schools.
  • How drinking too much soda causes health problems.
  • How junk food is unhealthy for our bodies.
  • Why you should take a vacation every year.
  • Is toothpaste bad for health?
  • Do you think there is too much sugar in our diets?
  • Drug advertisements should be prohibited.
  • Euthanasia could decrease suicide rates.
  • We should use electroconvulsive therapy more.
  • How to overcome stress.
  • Stop putting steroids in animal food.
  • Why you should become an organ donor.
  • Why we should use homeopathic treatments.
  • Why vaccines are beneficial.
  • The dangers of sleepwalking.
  • Are vaporizers bad for your health?
  • Are e-cigs better than cigarettes?
  • Diet pills are bad for your health.
  • The importance of world Red Cross day.
  • Why you should be a blood donor.
  • People need to drink more water.
  • Healthy eating tips.
  • Everyone should be taught CPR.
  • The danger of secondhand smoke.
  • Why exercise is good for you.
  • Why obesity is a big problem.
  • The importance of making healthy food cheaper.
  • Is gluten really bad for us?
  • The dangerous effects of drugs.
  • Should doctors be paid less?
  • Why you should not wear high heels.
  • Why you should not go to tanning beds.
  • The cost of prescription drugs is too high.
  • Smoking is bad for your health.
  • Why you should take care of your teeth.
  • Increase funding for medical research.
  • Make more healthy choices.
  • Why you should laugh every day.
  • Wearing bike helmets should be encouraged.
  • Cherish your friends.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous deserves our support.
  • Socialized medicine saves lives.
  • Birth control pills should be more available.
  • We need more resources to prevent infectious diseases.
  • Eat more dark chocolate.
  • Positive thinking will benefit your health.
  • Stomach stapling should be reserved for extreme situations.
  • Chewing tobacco is dangerous.
  • Seat belt laws help save lives.
  • Food additives are dangerous.
  • Breastfeeding should be encouraged.
  • Binge drinking awareness should be increased.
  • Teen pregnancy prevention should be increased.
  • Teen suicide awareness should be increased.
  • Fire safety awareness should be increased.
  • Organ donation should be encouraged.
  • Eat less meat and you will Iive longer.
  • Your body may actually speak louder than your words.
  • Indoor air pollution is responsible for many diseases.
  • A traditional health insurance plan where you choose the doctors is the best.
  • Traditional medicine and healing practices have been used for thousands of years with great contributions.
  • United Nations organization is responsible to reduce newborn mortality and maternal mortality in the upcoming ten years.
  • Everyone should have access to safe blood products originated from a quality assurance system.
  • Cook your poultry or risk a campylobacter bacterial infection …
  • Cell phones are safe for health.
  • Proper condoms reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections spread primarily through person to person contacts.
  • We must prevent that the financial crisis evaluates into a physical and mental wellness crisis.
  • Most food additives are safe.
  • Exposure to ionizing radiation can pose a substantial physical shape risk for vulnerable people.
  • Adequate infant nutrition is essential for wellbeing the rest of a person’s life.
  • Mitigating possible pandemic influenza effects should be a public priority.
  • 80 percent of men suffer from prostate cancer but are completely ignorant about it.
  • Abortion will endanger the health of a pregnant woman.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous programs for alcoholics work.
  • Balanced nutrition can prevent a heart attack.
  • Condoms give women the power to protect themselves.
  • Diabetes risk factors and complications must be highlighted better.
  • Eating foods that contain bacterium Clostridium botulinum will cause foodborne, infant and wound botulism.
  • Everyone must have easy access to healthcare services.
  • Fat fast food loaded with sugar, salt and calories contributes to child obesity.
  • Food should not be used for fuel.
  • Hair loss in humans can be reversible through good nutrition.
  • High blood pressure does put you at greater risk of having a stroke.
  • Irradiated meat is not safe to eat.
  • Not enough is done to prevent obesity in children.
  • Patients with anorexia nervosa should be required to get palliative care.
  • People with autism are not mad!
  • Poor air quality is a real threat to our health.
  • Soft drugs are not soft at all.
  • Support the United Nations Children’s Fund initiatives like the nutrition goals!
  • Teenagers are using too many risky methods to lose weight.
  • The media coverage of the swine flu epidemic is over dramatized.
  • The Munchausen’s syndrome needs to be dealt with better.
  • There should be one uniform national healthcare system for all.
  • Travel health needs to be given more importance.
  • We are not drinking enough water.
  • We only need one food safety agency.
  • You will be fitter if you just cycled to work.

Here are some ideas for informative speech topics on physical and mental wellness – from health supplements to fitness tests and from spinning to back pain exercises.

You can use this list of speech topics in two ways:

  • Take the public speaking topics as they are, and research all ins and outs.
  • Associate and invent your mapping scheme.
  • The role of the Center for Disease Control.
  • The health problems of children born drug addicted.
  • Eat healthy to live healthily.
  • How does a headache happen?
  • The effect of radiation.
  • What are the effects of self-harm?
  • Obesity facts and figures.
  • The benefits of magnesium.
  • Anxiety and its effects.
  • The importance of sleep.
  • How to avoid pesticides in vegetables.
  • How to prevent elder abuse.
  • How to avoid toxic chemicals in food.
  • Autism and its effects.
  • The different types of birth control.
  • The benefits of stem cell research.
  • The benefits of mindfulness.
  • How to cure and prevent hangovers.
  • Strategies for healthy eating.
  • The benefits of being a vegetarian.
  • What is spinocerebellar degeneration?
  • How to reduce asthma attacks.
  • The health benefits of ginger.
  • The Alice in Wonderland syndrome.
  • Why we should wash our hands.
  • The health benefits of friendship.
  • The importance of eye donation.
  • Why Americans are so obese.
  • The importance of childhood cancer awareness.
  • The reason humans itch.
  • The benefits of tea.
  • The best natural medicines.
  • How drinking too much can affect your health.
  • How to stop the obesity epidemic.
  • How to manage mental illness.
  • How to prevent teen pregnancy.
  • How to stop memory loss.
  • The best health care plans.
  • Xenophobia as a global situation.
  • The best and worst abdominal exercises in a gym.
  • Advantages and disadvantages of aqua aerobics for your muscles.
  • How to determine your body fat percentage in three steps, and when are you in
  • The effects of dietary health supplements on the long run are not certain.
  • Increasing weight leads to increasing condition and risks.
  • Why performance-enhancing substances such as steroids are banned in sports.
  • Natural bodybuilding supplements and their benefits for normal athletes.
  • Different types of Calisthenics exercises on music beats.
  • Why do people apply to life extension nutrition – there is no life elixir or cocktail?
  • Disadvantages of raw food diets – the flip-side topics to talk about are the
  • Different methods of strength training programs for revalidating patients. Ideas for informative speech topics on fitness:
  • Choosing a gym in your town, what to think of, get them a generic checklist.
  • Workout myths and lies.
  • The history of the Pilates system that was very popular in the nineties.
  • Time-saving fitness training tips for busy persons.
  • Ways to prepare for the types of physical tests, e.g. the Bruce, Beep.
  • Designating a personal trainer helps you to keep on coming to the athletic club.
  • Cardiovascular exercises that really work.
  • Top stretching and warm up tips.
  • Big three men’s salubriousness issues.
  • How to get rid of blubbering cellulite adipose tissue on your waist.
  • Comfortable workout clothing and activewear for women.
  • What is spinning?
  • Tips to stay motivated to go to the gym two or three times a week.
  • Benefits of yoga workout routines.
  • Back pain exercises to stretch and strengthen your back and supporting muscles.
  • Different low-carb diets.
  • Top five sunburn blocking tips, and do share your own wisdom, and empiricism
  • Travel tips for a healthy vacation.
  • How our immune system works to keep you physically strong and capable.
  • Yoga diet and yogic meditation techniques.
  • Strange Allergies and their symptoms and effects.
  • Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, causes, treatment and life expectancy.
  • Asthma solutions and natural remedies.
  • Dental care how to prevent tooth decay.
  • Stress management – reduce, prevent and cope with stress.
  • Yoga tips for beginners and starters – ideal to demonstrate some postures.
  • Why taking a vacation is good for your health.
  • The effects of eating disorders.
  • What is Down syndrome?
  • Animal to human transplants could save lives.
  • The body’s coping mechanisms when in a state of shock.
  • Managing and controlling type 2 diabetes.
  • How our culture affects organ donation.
  • Simple AIDS prevention tips.
  • How celiac disease affects our world.
  • The benefits of walking without shoes.
  • How smoking is harmful to your health.
  • The benefits of being an organ donor.
  • The dangers of texting while driving.
  • The importance of vitamins and minerals.
  • The nutritional value of pickles.
  • The importance of wearing your seatbelt.
  • The effects of caffeine on the body.
  • The history of Psychology.
  • Exercise combats health problems.
  • High-risk pregnancy complications.
  • What is narcissistic personality disorder?
  • The effects of fast food on the body.
  • How Monsanto affects our food.
  • How the American diet has changed.
  • The health benefits of dark chocolate.
  • Plastic surgery is bad for your skin.
  • The importance of anxiety and depression awareness.
  • The benefits of regular exercise.
  • How the circulatory system works.
  • How to have a healthy pregnancy.
  • How to get a really good sleep.
  • Why the brain is so important.
  • The effects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
  • Calcium is important
  • Eating disorders in modern times.
  • Herbal remedies that work for common diseases.
  • Junk food and its relation to obesity.
  • Obesity is the next health risk for the western world.
  • Smoking bans and restrictions don’t work.
  • Stretching exercises at the start of your day prevent injuries.
  • The influenza vaccination effectiveness is poor.
  • The losing battle with alcohol abuse.
  • The necessity of mandatory HIV/AIDS testing
  • The need for mandatory drug testing in our society.
  • Why health care policies are important.
  • A vegetarian diet is as healthy as a diet containing meat.
  • Smoking a pipe is more harmful than smoking cigarettes.
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) should be medicated.
  • Stretching before and after exercise is overrated.
  • Everyone should have free access to health care.
  • Knowing your ancestry is important for health.
  • Does access to condoms prevent teen pregnancy?
  • Eating meat and dairy is bad for your body.
  • Drug addiction is a disease not a choice.
  • Health risks of smoking are exaggerated.
  • Veganism is an unhealthy way to raise kids.
  • The need for teen depression prevention.
  • The Paleo diet can ruin your health.
  • Is laughter good for you?
  • All farmers should go organic.
  • The health benefits of marijuana.
  • Bread is bad for your health.
  • The dangers of herbal remedies.
  • The health benefits of avocados.
  • Running is unhealthy.
  • Alcoholics do not want help.
  • Flu shots are necessary.
  • Low carbohydrate diets are more effective than low fat diets.
  • Smokers should be treated like drug addicts.
  • The healthcare industry earns millions due to the cures they hide.
  • Vegetarianism is another word for unhealthy dieting.
  • Working night-shifts costs you ten years of your life.

More Speech Topics and Examples

207 Value Speech Topics – Get The Facts

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persuasive speech topics about working out

112 Persuasive Speech Topics That Are Actually Engaging

What’s covered:, how to pick an awesome persuasive speech topic, 112 engaging persuasive speech topics, tips for preparing your persuasive speech.

Writing a stellar persuasive speech requires a carefully crafted argument that will resonate with your audience to sway them to your side. This feat can be challenging to accomplish, but an engaging, thought-provoking speech topic is an excellent place to start.

When it comes time to select a topic for your persuasive speech, you may feel overwhelmed by all the options to choose from—or your brain may be drawing a completely blank slate. If you’re having trouble thinking of the perfect topic, don’t worry. We’re here to help!

In this post, we’re sharing how to choose the perfect persuasive speech topic and tips to prepare for your speech. Plus, you’ll find 112 persuasive speech topics that you can take directly from us or use as creative inspiration for your own ideas!

Choose Something You’re Passionate About

It’s much easier to write, research, and deliver a speech about a cause you care about. Even if it’s challenging to find a topic that completely sparks your interest, try to choose a topic that aligns with your passions.

However, keep in mind that not everyone has the same interests as you. Try to choose a general topic to grab the attention of the majority of your audience, but one that’s specific enough to keep them engaged.

For example, suppose you’re giving a persuasive speech about book censorship. In that case, it’s probably too niche to talk about why “To Kill a Mockingbird” shouldn’t be censored (even if it’s your favorite book), and it’s too broad to talk about media censorship in general.

Steer Clear of Cliches

Have you already heard a persuasive speech topic presented dozens of times? If so, it’s probably not an excellent choice for your speech—even if it’s an issue you’re incredibly passionate about.

Although polarizing topics like abortion and climate control are important to discuss, they aren’t great persuasive speech topics. Most people have already formed an opinion on these topics, which will either cause them to tune out or have a negative impression of your speech.

Instead, choose topics that are fresh, unique, and new. If your audience has never heard your idea presented before, they will be more open to your argument and engaged in your speech.

Have a Clear Side of Opposition

For a persuasive speech to be engaging, there must be a clear side of opposition. To help determine the arguability of your topic, ask yourself: “If I presented my viewpoint on this topic to a group of peers, would someone disagree with me?” If the answer is yes, then you’ve chosen a great topic!

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for what it takes to choose a great persuasive speech topic, here are over one hundred options for you to choose from.

  • Should high school athletes get tested for steroids?
  • Should schools be required to have physical education courses?
  • Should sports grades in school depend on things like athletic ability?
  • What sport should be added to or removed from the Olympics?
  • Should college athletes be able to make money off of their merchandise?
  • Should sports teams be able to recruit young athletes without a college degree?
  • Should we consider video gamers as professional athletes?
  • Is cheerleading considered a sport?
  • Should parents allow their kids to play contact sports?
  • Should professional female athletes be paid the same as professional male athletes?
  • Should college be free at the undergraduate level?
  • Is the traditional college experience obsolete?
  • Should you choose a major based on your interests or your potential salary?
  • Should high school students have to meet a required number of service hours before graduating?
  • Should teachers earn more or less based on how their students perform on standardized tests?
  • Are private high schools more effective than public high schools?
  • Should there be a minimum number of attendance days required to graduate?
  • Are GPAs harmful or helpful?
  • Should schools be required to teach about standardized testing?
  • Should Greek Life be banned in the United States?
  • Should schools offer science classes explicitly about mental health?
  • Should students be able to bring their cell phones to school?
  • Should all public restrooms be all-gender?
  • Should undocumented immigrants have the same employment and education opportunities as citizens?
  • Should everyone be paid a living wage regardless of their employment status?
  • Should supremacist groups be able to hold public events?
  • Should guns be allowed in public places?
  • Should the national drinking age be lowered?
  • Should prisoners be allowed to vote?
  • Should the government raise or lower the retirement age?
  • Should the government be able to control the population?
  • Is the death penalty ethical?


  • Should stores charge customers for plastic bags?
  • Should breeding animals (dogs, cats, etc.) be illegal?
  • Is it okay to have exotic animals as pets?
  • Should people be fined for not recycling?
  • Should compost bins become mandatory for restaurants?
  • Should electric vehicles have their own transportation infrastructure?
  • Would heavier fining policies reduce corporations’ emissions?
  • Should hunting be encouraged or illegal?
  • Should reusable diapers replace disposable diapers?

Science & Technology

  • Is paper media more reliable than digital news sources?
  • Should automated/self-driving cars be legalized?
  • Should schools be required to provide laptops to all students?
  • Should software companies be able to have pre-downloaded programs and applications on devices?
  • Should drones be allowed in military warfare?
  • Should scientists invest more or less money into cancer research?
  • Should cloning be illegal?
  • Should societies colonize other planets?
  • Should there be legal oversight over the development of technology?

Social Media

  • Should there be an age limit on social media?
  • Should cyberbullying have the same repercussions as in-person bullying?
  • Are online relationships as valuable as in-person relationships?
  • Does “cancel culture” have a positive or negative impact on societies?
  • Are social media platforms reliable information or news sources?
  • Should social media be censored?
  • Does social media create an unrealistic standard of beauty?
  • Is regular social media usage damaging to real-life interactions?
  • Is social media distorting democracy?
  • How many branches of government should there be?
  • Who is the best/worst president of all time?
  • How long should judges serve in the U.S. Supreme Court?
  • Should a more significant portion of the U.S. budget be contributed towards education?
  • Should the government invest in rapid transcontinental transportation infrastructure?
  • Should airport screening be more or less stringent?
  • Should the electoral college be dismantled?
  • Should the U.S. have open borders?
  • Should the government spend more or less money on space exploration?
  • Should students sing Christmas carols, say the pledge of allegiance, or perform other tangentially religious activities?
  • Should nuns and priests become genderless roles?
  • Should schools and other public buildings have prayer rooms?
  • Should animal sacrifice be legal if it occurs in a religious context?
  • Should countries be allowed to impose a national religion on their citizens?
  • Should the church be separated from the state?
  • Does freedom of religion positively or negatively affect societies?

Parenting & Family

  • Is it better to have children at a younger or older age?
  • Is it better for children to go to daycare or stay home with their parents?
  • Does birth order affect personality?
  • Should parents or the school system teach their kids about sex?
  • Are family traditions important?
  • Should parents smoke or drink around young children?
  • Should “spanking” children be illegal?
  • Should parents use swear words in front of their children?
  • Should parents allow their children to play violent video games?


  • Should all actors be paid the same regardless of gender or ethnicity?
  • Should all award shows be based on popular vote?
  • Who should be responsible for paying taxes on prize money, the game show staff or the contestants?
  • Should movies and television shows have ethnicity and gender quotas?
  • Should newspapers and magazines move to a completely online format?
  • Should streaming services like Netflix and Hulu be free for students?
  • Is the movie rating system still effective?
  • Should celebrities have more privacy rights?

Arts & Humanities

  • Are libraries becoming obsolete?
  • Should all schools have mandatory art or music courses in their curriculum?
  • Should offensive language be censored from classic literary works?
  • Is it ethical for museums to keep indigenous artifacts?
  • Should digital designs be considered an art form? 
  • Should abstract art be considered an art form?
  • Is music therapy effective?
  • Should tattoos be regarded as “professional dress” for work?
  • Should schools place greater emphasis on the arts programs?
  • Should euthanasia be allowed in hospitals and other clinical settings?
  • Should the government support and implement universal healthcare?
  • Would obesity rates lower if the government intervened to make healthy foods more affordable?
  • Should teenagers be given access to birth control pills without parental consent?
  • Should food allergies be considered a disease?
  • Should health insurance cover homeopathic medicine?
  • Is using painkillers healthy?
  • Should genetically modified foods be banned?
  • Should there be a tax on unhealthy foods?
  • Should tobacco products be banned from the country?
  • Should the birth control pill be free for everyone?

If you need more help brainstorming topics, especially those that are personalized to your interests, you can  use CollegeVine’s free AI tutor, Ivy . Ivy can help you come up with original persuasive speech ideas, and she can also help with the rest of your homework, from math to languages.

Do Your Research

A great persuasive speech is supported with plenty of well-researched facts and evidence. So before you begin the writing process, research both sides of the topic you’re presenting in-depth to gain a well-rounded perspective of the topic.

Understand Your Audience

It’s critical to understand your audience to deliver a great persuasive speech. After all, you are trying to convince them that your viewpoint is correct. Before writing your speech, consider the facts and information that your audience may already know, and think about the beliefs and concerns they may have about your topic. Then, address these concerns in your speech, and be mindful to include fresh, new information.

Have Someone Read Your Speech

Once you have finished writing your speech, have someone read it to check for areas of strength and improvement. You can use CollegeVine’s free essay review tool to get feedback on your speech from a peer!

Practice Makes Perfect

After completing your final draft, the key to success is to practice. Present your speech out loud in front of a mirror, your family, friends, and basically, anyone who will listen. Not only will the feedback of others help you to make your speech better, but you’ll become more confident in your presentation skills and may even be able to commit your speech to memory.

Hopefully, these ideas have inspired you to write a powerful, unique persuasive speech. With the perfect topic, plenty of practice, and a boost of self-confidence, we know you’ll impress your audience with a remarkable speech!

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100+ Excellent Topics for a Stellar Persuasive Speech

100+ Excellent Topics for a Stellar Persuasive Speech

What Makes a Truly Remarkable Speech?

The Ingredients of an Effective Topic

Ideas & Inspiration: 100+ Topics

Your Next Steps, Step-by-step

This comprehensive blog post serves as a vital resource for anyone looking to craft an impactful persuasive speech. It provides an extensive list of over 100 compelling topics tailored for a wide range of interests and academic fields. Additionally, it offers advanced guidance on selecting the perfect topic, structuring your arguments effectively, and employing persuasive techniques that captivate and convince your audience. Whether you're an academic achiever or an aspiring public speaker, this guide equips you with the insights to deliver a stellar persuasive speech.

Before You Pick the Perfect Topic...

If you’re struggling to find a strong topic for a persuasive speech , you’ll find 100+ ideas for subjects and topics below. Use one that grabs you, or simply find inspiration to get unstuck and come up with a topic about something you and your audience will find interesting.

To help you think about the big picture — your larger essay — we also review what makes a truly effective persuasive speech, all the ingredients of an effective topic, and how to pick the best topic for your circumstances.

Here's what's most essential as you consider your topic choices:

  • pick a topic that has the right scope, one aligned with your larger assignment
  • be sure the topic is one you're interested in researching, has meaning and relevance for your audience, and has the right level of complexity — both for your audience and for your level of speech writing prowess
  • remember your topic should align with themes and subjects related to your circumstances and the speech requirements

Finally, once you’ve picked your topic, and even if you know all the basics — which I’m guessing you do if you’re following posts from Crimson Education — you might still benefit from other advice in today's post, such as numerous speech writing tips and strategies designed to save you time and stress and improve the odds your final speech will exceed expectations.

Here's what you'll find:

  • What Makes a Truly Remarkable Persuasive Speech
  • The Ingredients of an Effective Topic, and Tips for Picking Your Topic
  • 100+ Topic Suggestions
  • How to Develop a Stellar Persuasive Speech — Step-by-Step!

Still feeling a bit hesitant or stuck?

Don’t worry. Once you've picked a really interesting and effective topic and start your research, you'll quickly become a subject-matter expert, regaining both motivation and confidence for all the remaining steps.

What Makes a Truly Remarkable Persuasive Speech?

A good persuasive speech will grab the audience’s attention, help them connect with the speaker (that’s you), and guide their reasoning process — giving the speech the power to persuade your audience why your point of view is logical and compelling, and also superior to the opposing viewpoints.

The 6 Most Essential Ingredients

  • A strong introduction that gets the audience engaged and provides context about the subject and topic, what’s at stake (why it matters), and what issues or concerns tend to be front and center
  • A clear thesis in the form of a specific point of view, opinion, or argument
  • An orderly progression of ideas and arguments, each argument or subtopic supported by logic and evidence
  • An anticipation of opposing viewpoints and arguments (the counterarguments to your opinion)
  • Your responses or ‘rebuttals’ to the opposing viewpoints , answering the anticipated objections and adding additional support for your point of view or thesis
  • A conclusion that highlights the most powerful persuasive elements in your speech and reminds listeners what's at stake, including, if suitable, a call to action

The Historical Roots of Persuasive Speech

Did you know that persuasive speech assignments may be testing your mastery of concepts that go back as far as ancient Greece?

The emergence of democracy in ancient Greece (the 6th and 5th centuries B.C.) created a space for the rule of law and political governance informed by the will of the people — making persuasive speech an essential element of social life.

From courtroom trials to political campaigns and democratic assemblies, persuasive speech emerged in 5th-century Athens as an essential tool of democracy.  Soon the brightest philosophers of the day became concerned with the principles of "rhetoric" — the study of orderly and effective persuasive speaking.

Now, thousands of years later, little has changed in Western democracies: "constructing and defending compelling arguments remains an essential skill in many settings" (Harvard U, Rhetoric ). In short, the principles of deliberation, free speech, and consensus building we use for governance, in school, extracurricular activities , at work, and sometimes our day-to-day life, still rely on persuasive speech.

In every free society individuals are continuously attempting to change the thoughts and/or actions of others. It is a fundamental concept of a free society.

- persuasive speaking, by r. t. oliver, ph.d..

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How The Rhetorical Triangle Can Turbo-charge Your Speech

The 5th-century B.C. Athenian philosopher Aristotle argued that your ability to persuade is based on how well your speech appeals to the audience in three different areas: logos, ethos, and pathos, sometimes referred to as the three points of the rhetorical triangle .

From observation and reflection Aristotle understood that humans are thinking animals (logos), social and moral animals (ethos), and emotional animals (pathos) — such that appealing to all three of these pillars of human understanding and action were essential parts of an effective persuasive speech .

1. Logos — Using clear, logical, and evidence-based reasoning and argumentation to add persuasive power to your speech.

For obvious reasons, audiences will typically expect strong arguments supported by evidence and clear reasoning and logic, all elements that are often prominent on grading rubrics for persuasive speeches.

Maybe you're thinking of speeches you've heard that utterly lacked logic and evidence? It's a reminder that persuasion as such is ultimately about points of view and not always about facts. Even without logic, a speaker can persuade, through effective uses of ethos and pathos , for example. In other instances social phenomena may underlie a lack of logic and evidence, such as "group think," for example , when people are swayed or swept up by a common point of view about an issue, instead of thinking critically about it.

2. Ethos — The component of persuasive speaking that spotlights the appeal, authority, credentials, and moral standing of the speaker .

Have you ever agreed with a speaker simply because you liked the person speaking, or rejected an argument because you disliked a speaker, responding to who the speaker is more than to their arguments? That may not be very logical, but it is very natural for us humans.

Aristotle understood this, that persuasion relies not solely on logical thinking but on relational factors too, including how much we trust a speaker, how much we believe in the integrity of their motives, and the knowledge and expertise they possess (or are perceived to possess).

Take law courts, for example. One common strategy lawyers use to undermine the force of witness testimony is to “discredit” or “taint” the witness , to undermine jurors' confidence in the veracity and motives of the witness. That's using ethos, rather than logic and facts, to impact an audience (the jury).

Likewise, when an audience has a high regard for the speaker's reputation, authority, and credibility, the more convincing that person's arguments are likely to be.

Suggestions for enhancing appeals to ethos in your speech:

  • Share a transformative journey where you shifted from an opposing perspective to your current stance due to overwhelming evidence. This approach can demonstrate your capacity for logic and open-mindedness, helping your audience see you as very rational and impartial, potentially strengthening your credibility.
  • Incorporate the viewpoints and expertise of respected authorities to bolster your arguments. Referencing reliable sources and experts boosts your credibility by showing you've grounded your arguments in established facts, perspectives, and ideas.
  • Foster a connection with your audience. For example, rather than overwhelming them with complex reasoning to showcase your intelligence, strive to comprehend and reflect their perceptions and potential biases regarding your topic. This should make your audience more receptive to your logic and perspectives as your speech progresses.
  • Employ personal anecdotes or lived experiences that unveil a deeper layer of understanding and wisdom. This personal touch not only humanizes you, the speaker, but makes your arguments more relatable and persuasive.

Depending on circumstances, you may think of additional ways to bolster your credibility and trustworthiness — enhancing your standing in the eyes of the audience in order to elevate the persuasive impact of your speech!

3. Pathos — This means injecting your speech with some powerful appeals to listeners' feelings and emotions , in addition to using logic and reason.

For example, if your speech entails persuading voters to increase foreign aide to combat world hunger, you wouldn’t just want to cite cold statistics. Painting a picture of ways malnutrition is affecting real individuals is likely to have a strong impact on listeners' emotions, appealing to their innate capacity for compassion towards others and helping them more deeply appreciate the urgency of the subject . This approach impacts listeners' emotions and highlights an urgent and universal moral imperative that adds conviction to your point of view.

In most academic settings, you'll be expected to present a speech with a strong line of evidence-based, logical reasoning, often making appeals to logos prominent in persuasive speeches in school settings. That said, by injecting and balancing appeals to logos, ethos, and pathos, based on what's most suitable for your topic, assignment, and approach, you'll add a significant measure of mastery to your persuasive writing method.

A Consistent Style and Tone

What style, voice, and tone best suit your personality, the occasion, the listeners, and your subject?

  • Consider adopting a straightforward, clear, and succinct style , reminiscent of a newspaper editorial or a no-nonsense argument in a voter guide. This approach works well for topics and settings requiring direct communication with clear insights and persuasive arguments free from subjectivity and unnecessary analysis and complexity.
  • For topics, interests, or assignments that naturally entail wading through broader philosophical and ethical debates — like debating justifications for euthanasia or arguments against the death penalty — a more introspective, contemplative voice may be expected . This style allows for a deeper exploration of moral dimensions and the broader implications of the issue at hand or the underlying logical principles involved.
  • If your inclination is towards something more unconventional, employing humor and wit could be a chance to take the road less traveled! Whether through irony or parody, for example, by showcasing a humorous topic from the outset, such as "why dog people outshine cat people," or cleverly presenting weaker arguments to underscore your point, this strategy, while offbeat, can captivate and entertain , making your speech stand out in a large class setting. Just be sure to balance the creativity with a clear demonstration of your persuasive speech skills and consider checking in with your teacher about possibilities and expectations beforehand.

With a broader understanding of what goes into a great persuasive speech, you’re better equipped for the important step of picking the topic that will guide your speech.

Picking Your Topic — Questions to Ask

Does it interest you.

Conveying passion for a topic is infectious, adding power to your speech. The more interested and invested you are in your subject and topic, the more likely you are to make your speech the best it can be.

Will the topic interest your audience?

Understanding your audience's values, interests, and views will help you make immediate connections with their own thought processes and attitudes. Try to pick a topic that will get your listeners to perk up and move to the edge of their seats.

Is the topic or point of view fresh and engaging?

Choosing a topic that's novel, contemporary, or presents a unique angle on a familiar issue should help you captivate your audience's attention. You also want the topic to be something that matters to your audience with a point of view that challenges their thinking, so you're not just "preaching to the choir."

Are there any "triggers" or otherwise "sensitive" or "inappropriate" themes?

You might not think there’s not any problem with a topic such as Should we build a wall to keep immigrants out of the country? Or, Should same sex marriage be legal? That said, topics that delve into identity politics or areas that are so controversial that they elicit anger or hostility rather than dialogue and debate may lead to emotional hurt and harm, even if not intended. If you have any doubts, check in with your teacher or a school counselor before settling on your topic!

Finding Subjects and Topics on Your Own

Before you jump ahead and grab a ready-made topic from the list below, remember that a quick brainstorming or online search could be your preferred method to find the best, most interesting topic for your audience, setting, and individual interests or class requirements. For example, an internet search with keywords such as “biggest problems or biggest issues in the world today” will quickly uncover a host of themes and subjects that are both timely and controversial.

Search Results for Keyword Phrase Contemporary World Problems and Issues

  • Water contamination
  • Human rights violation
  • Global health issues
  • Global poverty
  • Children's poor access to healthcare, education and safety
  • Access to food and hunger
  • Anti-corruption and transparency
  • Arms control and nonproliferation
  • Climate and environment
  • Climate crisis
  • Combating and crime
  • Countering terrorism
  • Cyber issues
  • Economic prosperity and trade policy
  • Technology and privacy

A General List vs. Time & Place Factors

Where you live and what’s timely for you and your audience is going to depend on your circumstances. Finding a “hot topic” in your specific time and place could be an effective way to get listeners' attention and address an issue that feels highly relevant.

  • Is there a big policy decision that’s a hot topic at your school?
  • Is there a ballot initiative your community will vote on soon that your audience has strong opinions about?
  • Is there a current events issue in your local news headlines that offers a compelling persuasive speech topic?
  • What’s before congress these days, or before the Supreme Court, or the United Nations — this week (any great topics there for your speech)?

More Inspiration: 100+ Interesting Persuasive Speech Topics for High School

If you haven’t already navigated your way to an interesting persuasive speech topic, use the list below for even more ideas and inspiration!

You can go from top to bottom, or you can jump the line and look for the themes that most interest you, such as Art and Culture or Recreation and Tourism.

Art and Culture

1. Is digital art really art?

2. Street art: vandalism or cultural expression?

3. Is there a place for censorship in the music industry?

4. Do museums promote culture or appropriate culture?

5. Should other countries have a minister of culture or similar government office, as they do in France?

6. Can schools, or art teachers, define good art vs. bad art? Should they?

7. Censorship in art: when is it justified or necessary?

8. Does creative freedom take precedence over cultural appropriation?

9. The impact of digital platforms on the consumption of art and the value of art.

10. Is there a role for public policy and public funding in arts and culture?

1. The pros and cons of minimum wage laws and policies.

2. Cryptocurrency: the future of finance or a scam?

3. Is student loan debt relief good policy?

4. Gender wage gap: are the concerns justified or unjustified?

5. Sustainable development: Is there a way to sustain economic growth and without an environmental catastrophe?

6. The role of small businesses in the economy, do they promote prosperity or undermine efficiencies?

7. Globalization: economic boon or bane?

8. Is consumerism in the general interest or a threat to the planet?

9. The economic effects of climate change, should they be paid now or later?

10. Universal Basic Income: a solution to poverty or a disincentive to work?

1. The case for and against school uniforms.

2. Should non-citizens be allowed to vote in school board elections?

3. The impact of technology on education.

4. Should college education be free?

5. The importance of teaching financial literacy in schools: promoting independent living or consumerism?

6. Should parents have the right to home school children against their will?

7. Is the grading system improving learning?

8. Is mandatory attendance a good policy for high school?

9. Addressing the mental health crisis in schools: is it an individual problem or a social one?

10. Arts education: valuable or a waste of time?

Environmental Issues

1. The urgency of addressing climate change and what to do about it.

2. Plastic pollution: are more stringent government regulations, policies, and laws the answer?

3. Should the government subsidize clean energy technologies and solutions?

4. The importance of water conservation, but whose responsible?

5. Should there be a global environmental tax? On what?

6. Should environmental costs be factored into everyday economic activity?

7. The impact of fast fashion on the environment.

8. The necessity of protecting endangered species.

9. Deforestation: Who's impacted? Who should have power (or not) to stop it?

10. Are electric cars truly better for the environment?

1. The changing dynamics of the modern family.

2. The role of the state in protecting children from parents and guardians.

3. Should adoption records be open or sealed?

4. How can employers, or employment laws, support healthy families?

5. Is there an age when euthanasia should become universally legal and accessible?

6. How to balance parental rights with child welfare.

7. Is your child's gender something they're born with, or something they should be free to choose?

8. The responsibilities of women vs. men in addressing an unplanned pregnancy.

9. Should parents restrict children's use of technology? What is too lax vs. what is too restrictive?

10. Balancing discipline and love in parenting.

Health, Nutrition, & Fitness

1. Should junk food advertising be regulated?

2. The dangers of fad diets: free market vs. consumer protection.

3. Should junk food be banned in schools?

4. Nutrition: are schools failing to teach it?

5. Should students be graded on their fitness and nutrition levels and habits?

6. Should sports programs be replaced by fitness education?

7. E-cigarettes: should they be regulated or not?

8. The obesity epidemic: a problem of individual responsibility, genetics, or social policy?

9. Are agricultural subsidies good for health and the environment?

10. Should teens have more options for balancing school attendance and individual sleep needs and preferences?

Media, Social Media, and Entertainment

1. The effects of social media on teenagers.

2. Should there be regulations on influencer marketing?

3. The impact of video games on behavior.

4. Fake news: Its impact and how to combat it.

5. The role of media in shaping public opinion.

6. Privacy concerns with social media platforms.

7. The influence of celebrities on youth culture: is there a role for rewards and consequences to impact celebrities public behaviors?

8. Digital detox: pros and cons.

9. Media portrayal of women and its societal impact.

10. Censorship in media: necessary or oppressive?

Politics and Society

1. The importance and limits of voting in a democracy.

2. Gun control laws: balancing safety and liberty.

3. The impact of immigration: universal human rights vs. national sovereignty.

4. The death penalty: justice vs. ethics?

5. The legalization of marijuana: the right policy?

6. The right to protest vs. public order.

7. Affirmative action: whose definition of "fairness" do we use?

8. The future of healthcare in America: market solutions or a public option?

9. Climate change policy: National vs. global approaches.

10. The role of the United Nations in today's world.

Recreation & Tourism

1. The benefits of outdoor recreation.

2. Sustainable tourism: protecting nature while promoting travel.

3. The impact of tourism on local cultures.

4. The future of space tourism.

5. The effects of recreational activities on mental health.

6. The importance of historical preservation in tourism.

7. Adventure tourism: reasonable or unreasonable risks vs. rewards proposition?

8. The effects of over-tourism on popular destinations and local communities.

9. Is eco-tourism the right way to promote environmental sustainability?

10. Does international tourism help or harm indigenous peoples, cultures, and communities?

1. Do the ethical downside of genetic engineering outweigh the potential benefits?

2. The potential and pitfalls of artificial intelligence in society.

3. Climate change denial: is it fully within the bounds of free speech?

4. Competing views of vaccine policies and individual rights in pandemics and other health emergencies.

5. Space exploration: is it worth the investment?

6. The use of affirmative action to diversify STEM education and workforce.

7. The impact of technology on job displacement and future employment: is a universal income the right answer?

8. Do renewable energy technologies offer a feasible substitute for eliminating fossil fuels?

9. Ocean pollution: is more government regulation the answer?

10. Protecting biodiversity vs. the right to economic prosperity.

Sports and School Athletics

1. The emphasis on athletic programs in high schools: is the hype benefiting students?

2. Should college athletes be compensated?

3. Do teamwork and group activities help or hinder academic and athletic development?

4. Should schools should require more physical education or less?

5. Should there be more emphasis on non-competitive formats in high school and college athletics?

6. The influence of professional athletes as role models: good or bad?

7. Doping in sports: are athletic programs teaching the wrong values?

8. The benefits and risks of contact sports in high schools athletics.

9. Should there be absolute gender equality in school athletics?

10. What should the educational goal of school athletics be?

These topics span a broad spectrum of interests and concerns — look for one that matters to you and your audience, is likely to prompt insightful dialogue or debate, and is challenging enough to put your individual persuasive speech skills to the test!

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1. Use Diligent Research to Make a Watertight Argument

To go from just any persuasive speech to a truly riveting one, you’ll want to dig around until you find compelling and authoritative research . Even if you're already knowledgeable about your topic, applying yourself with patience and perseverance at this early stage will usually pay off, allowing you to uncover some real gems when it comes to compelling facts and expert perspectives.

What to look for:

  • Facts, statistics, and surveys
  • An expert analysis of a policy or issue
  • Quotes from compelling experts, from books, editorials, or speeches
  • Anecdotal evidence in the form of isolated events or personal experiences that don’t have much statistical significance but can illustrate or capture something powerful that supports your point of view, or add emotional appeal
  • Graphs, tables, and charts

Riveting research will better position you to hit some home runs when you put together your speech. And remember, research is primarily to build a strong logical argument ( logos ), but citing and spotlighting reputable sources will also lend your speech greater persuasive credibility ( ethos ), just as experiential perspectives can add appeals to emotion ( pathos ).

Define Your Thesis

Clearly articulate your stance on the topic. This thesis statement will guide the structure of your speech and inform your audience of your central argument.

I like to create a "working thesis" as a planning tool, something that encapsulates and maps my point of view and essential supporting arguments, and as a way to uncover gaps in my reasoning or evidence early on. Later, it also gives me a ready guide for writing my outline.

Essential Elements of a ‘working thesis’ for a persuasive speech:

  • The subject (including how you'll frame the context for your topic and speech)
  • Your main point of view
  • List of principal arguments
  • The most important counterarguments
  • Key rebuttals to the counterarguments

As you can see, this kind of "working thesis" gives you a bird's eye view of your thesis along with all the key components of your speech and the reasoning you’ll deploy.

Marshaling Your Evidence

As you delve into researching your chosen topic, such as "Why space exploration is not worth the investment," you'll accumulate evidence, including data, anecdotes, expert opinions, and more. This evidence is vital for adding depth, credibility, and persuasion to your speech. You also need to strategically align the evidence with each of your supporting arguments , ensuring that each claim you make is substantiated.

You can use a simple table format to visually map out how you want to align your subtopics and evidence.

Here's an example using the topic Why space exploration is not worth the investment .

Supporting ArgumentsEvidence
High Costs and Little Return on Investment- "The average cost of a space shuttle mission is approximately $1.5 billion, funds that could be redirected to pressing Earth-bound issues." - According to Dr. H. Smith, 'the economic benefits of space exploration are speculative and materialize over very long terms, often not benefiting the current generation.”
Innovation Benefits Are Overstated- "While proponents argue space exploration drives tech innovation, major technologies like the Internet and smartphones resulted from Earth-focused research." - "A study showed that less than 5% of technologies used in healthcare directly benefited from space research, questioning the efficiency of investment in space for technological advancement."
Resources Could Be Better Used on Earth- "10% of the space exploration budget could significantly improve infrastructure in underdeveloped regions, showcasing immediate impact." - "An estimated 500,000 individuals become homeless in the USA each year; reallocating a fraction of space exploration funds could provide substantial aid."

This table is just for illustration, and doesn't use real data and opinions, but you can see how organizing your evidence ahead of time can help you logically present and support your arguments and subtopics . It can also help you spot gaps, in case you need to do additional research, and gives you a head start on the next step: outlining your speech!

Make an Outline

Begin with a structured outline to ensure your speech flows logically from one point to the next. Your outline should include:

  • introduction elements
  • key subtopics and the relevant arguments and evidence, examples, anecdotes, or citations, all in sequential order
  • key wording for any important or challenging transitions from one line of thought to the next, or from one subtopic to the next
  • a section for responding to opposing arguments and viewpoints, with the specific rebuttals, all in sequential order
  • key points for your conclusion

Drafting Body Paragraphs, Your Introduction & Conclusion

Now you're making your first rough attempts of turning the key content of your speech into phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. So, this is a could point to refocus on the tone, style, and voice you want to use, and how to use it consistently.

Pro Tip: Write your introduction and conclusion after drafting all of your body paragraphs, because you these two sections to really capture the essence of the larger speech.

Introduction : Start with a strong hook—this could be a startling statistic, a compelling quote, or a relatable and captivating (or entertaining) anecdote— then briefly preview your main points to set the stage for your argument.

Conclusion : Reinforce your thesis with concise references to the the primary evidence you presented. End with a powerful closing statement that reminds your audience of why this topic is important. As suitable, you can also call your audience to action or leave them with something significant to ponder on their own.

Balancing Pathos, Logos, Ethos

Ensure a harmonious balance among logos (logical appeal), ethos (establishing your credibility and using evidence from credible sources and quotes or perspectives from credible authorities), and pathos (emotional appeal).

Checklist for Balancing Logos, Ethos, and Pathos

Here's a rubric, adapted from a real university writing rubric for persuasive speeches, that can help you elevate appeals to logos , ethos , and pathos in your speech.

  • Is the thesis clear and specific?
  • Is the thesis supported by strong reasons and credible evidence?
  • Is the argument logical and well organized?
  • What are the speaker’s qualifications?
  • How has the speaker connected him/herself to the topic being discussed?
  • Does the speaker demonstrate respect for multiple viewpoints, and respond to them with thoughtful arguments?
  • Are sources credible?
  • Are tone, style, and word choice appropriate for the audience/purpose?
  • Is the speech polished and written with care?
  • Are vivid examples, details and images used to engage the listeners' emotions and imagination?
  • Does the writer appeal to the values and beliefs of the listeners by using examples the audience can relate to or cares about?

Revise & Polish

Review your speech and revise for clarity, flow, sentence structure, and word choice.

Remember to use a voice and style consistent with making a speech, with the topic and subject matter, and the specific circumstances for your speech.

Remove any jargon or unnecessary details that might distract from your message.

Sharpen your arguments, making sure they are clear, concise, and compelling.

Practice the Delivery

Dedicate ample time to practicing what it will be like giving your speech. Focus on mastering the tone, pace, and volume of your delivery. If you have time limits on the speech, be sure to time your delivery as well, and make any needed adjustments. Consider body language, eye contact, and gestures, as these non-verbal cues can significantly impact your speech's effectiveness.

The more comfortable and familiar you are with your speech, the more confidently you'll present it.

Also, being nervous, for lots of people, is normal. Practice will help; with better command of your speech you'll feel more confident. Also, practicing your delivery with a friend who can listen and give you some feedback is good way to catch helpful adjustments.

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Final Thoughts

Finding a topic you like and one that your audience will be interested in is a critical foundation for an effective persuasive speech. It will also help you stay motivated and get more out of the experience!

Just remember that investing in some extra research, some thoughtful organization, anticipating counterarguments, and artfully weaving in ethos and pathos alongside a strong line of evidence-based arguments ( logos ) will help you elevate your speech and your learning experience.

With the insights we've just shared, you're more than ready to turn what is often a rote class exercise into something far more artful. In addition, your effort will help prepare you for college — for debating, editorial writing, legal argumentation, public policy advocacy, public speaking, and even running for ASB President!

If you're interested in taking on the challenge of more advanced research and persuasive writing, or even projects that involve scholarly publication, be sure to reach out to a Crimson Education Advisor for information on ways to get connected to advanced online courses and any number of cool capstone and research projects that will also connect you to networks of motivated young scholars and top-notch research and writing mentors.

About the Author

Keith Nickolaus

Keith Nickolaus

Keith Nickolaus is a former educator with a passion for languages, literature, and lifelong learning. After obtaining a B.A. from UC Santa Cruz and exploring university life in Paris, Keith earned his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and then worked for 16 years in K12 education before setting up shop as a freelance writer.

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The art of persuasive speech: How to speak with confidence

Art of persuasive speech how to speak with confidence header|Rhetorical Triangle overview graphic|Duarte Story Map overview graphic|Duarte Big Idea overview graphic

Phoebe Perelman

The spoken word is a catalyst for change. From the boardroom, to the newsroom, to the courtroom, to the dining room – words are used not only to inform, but to influence. Every speech you give and conversation you have are opportunities to shape the world around you. In our inundated information economy, the value of your ideas is determined by your ability to persuade.

What is a persuasive speech?

A persuasive speech is a form of communication intended to influence the beliefs, attitudes, and actions of others. Whether you’re an L&D leader shaping organizational culture, a sales manager overseeing a team, or a social media strategist responsible for justifying ad spend, persuasive speaking is an integral part of your job description.

I’m sure you can think of some prime persuasive speech examples. Maybe Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech comes to mind. Or Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth.’ Or maybe that time your daughter tried to convince you to adopt a ferret.

Persuasive speeches come in many forms, but some persuasive speeches move masses (or result in new family mascots), while others don’t make a dent. Why?

Why your persuasive speaking might not be working

If you’ve ever failed to foster organizational change, close a deal, or motivate a team, you may be thinking more about what you want to say than what the audience needs to hear. We’ve all been there! But in order to persuade people, you first need to understand them.

Reason #1: Not studying your audience

Put yourself in the audience members’ shoes by answering the following questions:

  • Who are they?
  • What do they do?
  • What do they dream of?
  • What keeps them lying awake at night?
  • How will your idea, product, or point of view benefit them or solve a problem they care about?
  • What are their existing feelings and beliefs about the topic at hand?

By considering what they care about, you can determine the type of content they’ll resonate with. And by acknowledging their resistance points, you can prepare to address any counterarguments or rebuttals.

Reason #2: Not using enough data

Another common pitfall we see is when speakers lean too heavily into emotional content without including any supporting evidence. Your argument will stall quickly if there’s no research, data, or other qualitative and quantitative metrics to back up your Big Idea™.

Reason #3: Not communicating your data well

On the opposite spectrum, speakers can also lean too heavily into logical content, relying solely on facts and figures with no story. “ Data doesn’t speak for itselfe , it needs a good storyteller,” says Nancy Duarte, CEO of Duarte Inc. “The findings [from the data] can stay buried without the help of a communicator.”

Neither instance is ideal. Persuasive speeches and presentations alike require a rhetorical juggling act with three specific elements.

You can learn more about this in our best-selling workshop, Duarte DataStory®. It was specifically designed to help professionals in data-intense roles learn how to communicate better, and tell stories through their data, to win buy-in.

How do you craft a persuasive speech?

Persuasive speeches need three imperative components. And these three persuasive speaking components have held true for over 2,000 years. We all have Aristotle to thank for this timeless wisdom. They are ethos, pathos, and logos, and we’ll go into why they are needed when you begin to structure your persuasive speech.


3 components of a persuasive speech structure

Make sure your persuasive speech structure includes some aspect of the three below elements. They are a huge tool for ensuring your persuasive presentation is a success.

Ethos: Establishing credibility

Establishing credibility as a speaker is crucial to winning over an audience. After all, would you take advice from a doctor who hadn’t gone through medical school? I think not. People are more likely to listen to someone they perceive as:

  • Knowledgeable
  • Trustworthy
  • And ethical

You can establish credibility by demonstrating confidence, conveying your expertise, and sharing relevant experience (in a humble, non-braggy way of course).

Pathos: Emotional appeal

One of the most effective persuasive strategies is tapping into the emotions of your audience. We can learn a lot about emotional appeal by looking at advertisements. Companies aren’t just selling a product – they’re selling a feeling, or a better state of being. Cars become calls to adventure, clothing becomes a boost of confidence, and software becomes a time-saver. These outcomes are illustrated through stories, metaphors, and vivid language or imagery. The same tactics can be incorporated into a persuasive speech.

Logos: Logical appeal

No matter how trustworthy you seem, or how compelling your stories are, most people need tangible proof. That’s why concrete evidence is essential to any speech or presentation. Include facts, statistics, customer examples, and expert validation to bolster your claims and enhance the credibility of your message.

As I said above, it’s important to cover your bases and include elements of all three persuasive appeals when outlining your main messages. Speaking of outlines…

How to use a persuasive speech outline

Now that you have your three components for your persuasive speech structure, it’s time to make your persuasive speech outline.

Step 1. Identify your Big Idea™

Start by determining a Big Idea™ for your talk. What is the main point you want the audience to walk away with? This will serve as a thesis of sorts.


Step 2: Compile content to validate your Big Idea™

Next, determine what key messages you need to make to validate your Big Idea™. These may include problems, solutions, topics, specific events, periods in time, etc. You can then start to organize these messages into chapters.


Step 3: Gather supporting points

Once you’ve defined your chapters, you can add supporting points. Those are your stats, quotes, stories, use cases, metaphors, personal anecdotes, etc.

Step 4: Read it back and fill in gaps

Your outline is probably looking good by now, but you’re not quite done. Review your outline out loud to see how it transitions from one point to the next. This is your chance to rearrange and reconsider your content. Ask yourself:

  • Does my outline address the audience-specific questions posed earlier?
  • Have I incorporated every side of the rhetorical triangle?
  • Does it flow?
  • Am I using contrast to keep my audience engaged?

Once you feel good about the messy middle of your presentation, start to brainstorm a captivating hook and compelling call to action.

Step 5: Determine your visual aids for your persuasive speech

Visual aids come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on your audience size, goals, and intent, there are a multitude of options when it comes to selecting the right visual aid for your persuasive speech. We’ve covered the topic of how to choose the right visual aid for your speech, so let’s assume is a presentation (our specialty!)

What is a persuasive presentation?

A persuasive presentation is when you choose to deliver your persuasive speech with the use of a digital presentation deck. This is typically done with slide presentation software, and they usually have helpful features like speaker notes or slide templates to help you tell your story in a visually appealing way.

Presentations offer something that speeches don’t: visuals. Visuals enhance your ability to elicit emotion and provide supporting evidence.

The most persuasive slides are simple, easy to understand, and complementary to your verbal message. So, keep your main message in mind, stick to one idea per slide, and make sure your slides can pass the Glance Test™.

Want more info on slide design principles? Allow me to save you some reading time by directing you to our on-demand webinar: Designing slides and visual aids that pop.

What is a call-to-action speech?

If you don’t intend to move someone with your persuasive presentation, then you might as well send an email. A call-to-action speech is the same as a persuasive speech. It should move your audience into action through the art of persuasion.

At Duarte, we believe that every speech is a persuasive speech, and no persuasive speech is complete without a call to action. A call to action is a directive for the audience based on your end goal. What do you want to achieve with this talk and what do you want the audience to do to help you achieve that goal?

  • Champion your brand?
  • Complete a training course??
  • Schedule a second sales conversation?

A call-to-action could also involve changing belief systems or getting the audience to adopt a new point of view. Maybe you don’t need them to act on something, but instead to feel differently about a person, product, or process.

Before developing your CTA, ask yourself: “who are they when they walk in the room, and who do I want them to be when they leave the room?”

What qualities do you need to improve your persuasive communication?

Persuasive speaking involves more than just content. You could have the most robust, audience-centric script, but without public speaking prowess, your efforts will go to waste. The way you deliver your speech or presentation has everything to do with the likelihood of influencing an audience. Capturing and holding an audience’s attention requires a certain type of stage presence. Fortunately, you don’t need to be born with uncanny charisma – you can learn how to leverage your voice and speak with confidence.

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The best way to nail your persuasive speech is with Duarte

There’s a lot that goes into persuasive speaking. And that tracks – it’s not easy to change people’s actions and beliefs! The content you choose, the visuals you use, and the way you deliver all play a role in persuasion. And more often than not, it’s helpful to seek an outside perspective to pressure test your persuasive speech.

Duarte works with the world’s biggest brands to develop persuasive stories and visuals that have won countless hearts and minds. From CEOs giving their keynotes to thousands, to product marketers getting their go-to-market product launches just right, we can help!

So, if you’re prepping for a main-stage or career-defining event where you need to influence an outcome, consider working with a persuasive expert from our agency.

If you’re confident in your content, but not in your persuasive stage presence, hone in on delivery by working with a speaker coach.

Or, if you don’t have a specific persuasive presentation to prepare for, but want to learn how to shape ideas into persuasive narratives, you can enroll in a public speaking and presentation skills course like Resonate® that will teach you how to:

  • Analyze your audience so you can deliver value, even when they resist
  • Clarify the core of your idea
  • Create supporting content with the story structure used by history’s greatest communicators
  • Distill and communicate complex ideas with clarity

And that concludes the persuasive speaking basics. Let’s recap. The best way to prepare for persuasive speaking opportunities is to:

  • Think audience-first
  • Consider counterarguments
  • Incorporate ethos, logos, and pathos
  • Use an outline
  • Craft a clear call to action
  • Add visuals if possible
  • Refine your delivery
  • Pressure test with an external perspective (like ours)

Put these tactics to the test before your next persuasive speech and see just how influential you can be.

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