Given that delivering speeches in high school can be an enormously challenging and intimidating undertaking, it is helpful to know that the key elements of an effective persuasive speech are confidence, simplicity and organization. By teaching speech writing, instructors can help students learn how to overcome the fear of giving a speech.
How to Write a Persuasive Speech in High School
Writing an effective persuasive speech in high school and delivering it successfully is no easy feat. High school students are often required to give speeches, whether in their academic class, as a requirement for student government or as some part of a senior presentation when they are preparing to leave high school. Speech writing and speech delivering are challenging to learn, but the important thing to keep in mind is that the skills necessary to do them well can be taught and learned by anyone who is willing to put in the effort.
If your goal is to write and deliver an effective persuasive speech about education, you will need to begin by doing thorough research. Not all of the research that you do will wind up being a part of the speech, but the effort that you do put in thorough research will enable you to deliver your speech with authority, confidence and flexibility, which are some of the most important attributes to an effective speech about education or really any topic.
Once you have conducted the necessary research, it's time to focus on the main topic of your speech. Speeches are by definition given orally, and research has shown that audiences do not remember a great deal of information that they hear in speeches, so clarity and specificity are critical. You can arrive at the main point of your speech by thinking of the goal of the speech. What do you want the audience to understand or feel empowered to do?
How to Write an Introduction to a Persuasive Speech
Though it's counterintuitive to anyone who has ever watched a movie or read a story where the climax of the story comes at the end, the truth is that the introduction of your speech is actually the most critical part. In the introduction to your speech, you will need to grab your audience's attention and hold onto it. A funny quote or a personal anecdote is a good speech introduction example for school.
Many times, speech writers spend the first moments of their speech thanking the people who have allowed them to speak and going on to express their gratitude for being able to be there. This is a mistake. You can save any thanks, congratulations and well wishes for the end of your speech. Your responsibility when writing the introduction to a persuasive speech is to grab the audience's attention and then leave them wanting to hear more.
Once you have figured out your central topic and the best way to lead into it, you can make sure that the introduction to your speech is sufficiently engaging. What is the end goal of your speech? Write it down and then work backward.
How Do I Make a Persuasive Speech?
A good introduction to a persuasive speech shouldn't be overly dramatic or sensational. Rather, it should draw the audience in slowly like bait until they find that they have listened to the entire speech. The way to do this is to begin with a story, an anecdote or anything that will sound authentic and nonformulaic and will get the audience to sit up and take notice.
If you have ever been to a wedding where someone gave a particularly successful toast, you'll understand that starting with humor is often the best way to get the audience on your side. Emotions and humor are two things that make audiences feel connected and moved.
Certainly, not every persuasive speech should contain humor. It is not always appropriate for the occasion or the central topic, and you must be the judge of whether or not the situation is too grave to lead with a joke. However, if you can lead the beginning of your speech in a way that is both humorous and engaging, you will find that you have the audience already on your side.
What Are the Keys to Persuasive Speech Text?
Many expert teachers of speech writing agree that the most critical part of the speech is the introduction, and the second-most critical part of the speech is the conclusion. In the speech's conclusion, you will circle back to the themes on which you began your speech and formulate them into a final message or a call to action for the audience that will leave them feeling exhilarated. What about the body paragraphs? What about the middle of your speech?
People who teach speech writing often say that the middle, or body paragraphs, of your speech should be kept short. A short middle means that there is less time for the audience to get bored, to lose their place in what you are saying or to stumble over the meaning of your words. It also means that you as the speech writer must get the body paragraph of your speech to be as concise and packed with information as possible while using the least amount of words.
It's important not to let the story part of your speech drag on. If you can hit the story's key "beats" in bullet points, do that. Then, find a way to dress up the bullet points and make the tone conversational rather than stiff and written. You'll be delivering your speech partially built on what you have prepared and partially with the rest coming out of what you feel at the moment, so keep your bullet points to a minimum and use them as a guide.
What Makes a Speech Persuasive?
Something that makes an argument persuasive is that the person making the argument doesn't strong arm or talk down to the audience. The same is true of persuasive speeches. If you are looking to write or create a persuasive speech, you will need to speak in a warm, open and non-confrontational manner with the people to whom you are delivering the speech. They will be persuaded by the content of your words, not by the force of your delivery.
Another key piece of persuasive speech writing is being engaging. Explaining how to be engaging is one of the main components of teaching speech writing. To be engaging, you must make the audience feel as though you are in direct conversation with them and as though they alone are the recipients of your attention and you are in fact conversing with them, not simply saying words to them.
Persuasive speech writing is a difficult skill to master, but it can be mastered with practice. When you practice giving a speech based on a strong outline you've developed versus reading a speech like a script, you will have the opportunity to speak in an authentic way that feels less forced and more authentic.
Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience writing about education for a variety of organizations and educational institutions as well as online media sites. She has written for Pearson Education, The University of Miami, The New York City Teaching Fellows, New Visions for Public Schools, and a number of independent secondary schools. She lives in Los Angeles.