Question Of Policy Speech Assignment

I.   Introduction to Persuasive Speaking

II. Patterns of Organization for Persuasive Speaking

III. Methods of Persuasion

Introduction to Persuasive Speaking

Persuasive speaking can be contrasted with informative speaking.
The two appear on a continuum.

Informative ---------------------- Persuasive

There are several points of contrast.

  • Persuasive speaking urges us to choose from among options: informative speaking reveals and clarifies options.
  • Persuasive speaking asks the audience for more commitment than does informative speaking.
  • The ethical obligations for persuasive speakers are even greater than for informative speakers.
  • The Persuasive speaker is a leader; the informative speaker is a teacher.
  • Persuasive speaking more often involves emotional appeals that are out of place in speeches to inform.
One focus of persuasion is the question of fact.
This refers to something that we can know to be either true or false, but right now we can argue about it.  Examples include historical controversy, predictions, or questions of existence.  Examples:  "To persuade my audience that the Green Bay Packers will win the Superbowl."  "To persuade my audience that stocks will continue to rise."  "To persuade my audience that Oswald acted alone when assassinating President Kennedy."  "To persuade my audience that T.V. violence causes real world violence."

Another focus of persuasion are the questions of value.
Here is where we argue something is right or wrong, moral or immoral, or better or worse than another thing.  Examples include: "To persuade my audience that it is wrong to drive over the speed limit."  "To persuade my audience that Pepsi is better than Coke."  "To persuade my audience that it is better to live together before marriage."

Another focus of persuasion can be the questions of policy.  And this is your assignment.
Here is where we argue that some action should or should not be taken.
The form is always: "To persuade my audience that X should do Y."
"To persuade my audience that ISU should turn Morill Hall into a Multi-cultural Center."  "To persuade my audience that the U.S. military should lift its ban on women in combat."  "To persuade my audience that they should donate blood."

Fact, Value or Policy? Exercise
1. To persuade my audience that the U.S. should adopt a mandatory youth service program.
2. To persuade my audience that volunteering will make them feel better about themselves.
3. To persuade my audience to become Peace Corps volunteers.
Fact, Value, or Policy?
4. To persuade my audience that experience as volunteers will help them on the job market.
5. To persuade my audience that volunteering is the duty of every citizen.

Your Assignment See your workbook, p. 38
Goals: Policy Speech
Time: 7-9 minutes
Sources: minimum of 5; review guidelines about sources on p. 10
Visual Aid--your choice

There are two types of persuasive speeches of policy.

  • The first aims for passive agreement.
  • The second aims for personal action.
Sample Specific Purpose Statements for Persuasive Speeches to Gain Immediate Action
  • To persuade my audience to participate in intramural athletics.
  • To persuade my audience to volunteer as literacy tutors.
  • To persuade my audience to vote in the next presidential election.
  • To persuade my audience to give blood through the Red Cross.
  • To persuade my audience to sign a petition for longer library hours.
Sample Specific Purpose Statements for Persuasive Speeches to Gain Passive Agreement
  • To persuade my audience that there should be tougher enforcement of laws to protect the victims of domestic abuse.
  • To persuade my audience that college scholarship athletes should receive a $200 monthly stipend for personal expenses.
  • To persuade my audience that the federal government should impose a ban on all advertising for cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Questions to ask as you read or view a sample persuasive speech
  • What is the speaker's goal?
  • What are the main points?
  • How does the structure of the speech help the speaker to make the argument?
  • How does the speaker try to make you care?
  • How does the speaker use evidence?
  • What kinds of sources does the speaker use?

Time Management during the Persuasive Unit
Choose a topic ASAP.  The last day to turn in p. 42 is Monday.
Use the Persuasive Speech Development form early to get you going.  It is on pp. 43-44 in the workbook and is due Mon. Oct. 26.
Plan a time to meet with your speaking group.
Get a draft of your outline done by your workshop day Oct. 28th or 30th.
Keep up with homework, ask questions and practice.

Persuasive Analysis and Structures
Once you have chosen a topic, your next task is to analyze it and prepare for your research.
We will use the traditional concepts that persuaders have used for centuries to argue for change in the status quo.

The three issues to consider are grounded in theories of human psychology.
The Three Ps: Persuasive Speech Stock Issues
1. The Problem issue refers to what is wrong with the status quo.
2. The Plan issue refers to the solution.
3. The Practicality issue refers to considerations of how well the plan solves the problem and its advantages and disadvantages.

Sample Speech: “The Problem With Pennies” (pp. 393-396)

  • Specific Purpose: To persuade my audience that pennies should be eliminated from the United States money supply.
  • Central Idea: Because Pennies cause problems for individuals, businesses, and the economy as a whole, they should be eliminated from the U.S. money system.
Pattern of Organization: Problem - Solution
I. Pennies cause serious problems for individuals, businesses and the national economy.
II. The federal government should eliminate pennies from the money supply.

Problem Issue--paragraphs 4-8
Pennies are a nuisance for individuals.  [class survey, U.S. Mint Survey, example of Noel Gunther from the L.A. Times]
Pennies are a nuisance for businesses too.  [Fortune magazine, National Association of Convenience Stores]
Pennies are a nuisance for the nation.  [stats and testimony from the Treasury Dept., from the U.S. Mint, from U.S. News and World Report]

Plan Issue--paragraphs 10-13
First step is for the federal government to legalize and standardize rounding off purchases to the nearest nickel.
The next step is to round the sales tax off to the nearest nickel.
The third step is for the Mint to stop making pennies.
The fourth step is for people to cash in their pennies removing them from the money supply.

Practicality Issue--mixed in with the plan steps in paragraphs 10-15
Rounding off purchases: would not cause increased cost to consumers.
Rounding off sales tax: again, no increased cost; it is like rounding off to the nearest dollar on your income tax return.
Stop minting: this will save $80 million a year.
Such a plan has worked in the U.S. before; in 1857 we eliminated the half-penny.
We already practice this plan through the "Leave a Penny, Take a Penny" dishes at check-out counters.

II. Patterns of Organization for Persuasive Speaking


  • Specific Purpose: To persuade my audience that they should sign universal organ donor cards.
  • Central Idea:  We can take a step toward solving the serious shortage of organ donors in the United States by signing universal organ donor cards.
I. There is a serious shortage of healthy organs available for transplant.
II. By signing a universal organ donor card you can help solve this problem.


  • Specific Purpose: To persuade my audience that the government must increase its efforts to counter-act global warming.
  • Central Idea: The effects of global warming are catastrophic, but by understanding what is causing this condition, the government can create policies that can reverse these effects.
I. Scientists agree that a general warming of the earth's atmosphere would lead to devastating effects on the environment.
II. There are several factors responsible for global warming.
III. Government policies directed at industry and individuals can mitigate the effects of global warming.

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence
Best pattern to use for a personal action appeal.
Five Parts: Attention, Need, Satisfaction, Visualization, Action; but only three main points.

In the Introduction
A scenario of a heart attack

I. We have a problem with heart disease and heart failure in America.
A. Every year thousands of Americans die from heart attacks.
B. Only a small part of the population knows how to save someone who is suffering from a heart attack.

II. If more people were trained in CPR more lives could be saved.
A. You can get trained in CPR by attending a Red Cross class.
B. You can get trained in CPR here on campus.

III. Once you are trained in CPR, you can save a life.
A. Let's look again at the opening scenario.
B. Statistics show that communities that have a large percentage of the population CPR certified have lower rates of death from heart attacks.

In the conclusion
Call to the audience to get trained in CPR

Comparative Advantages
For use only when the audience already agrees that there is a problem that needs to be solved.
The main points are used to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the various plans suggested.
It is essentially a process of elimination structure.

Example Comparative Advantages:

Intro: We all have heard of the energy crisis, but some may think that it is over.  It's not.  In my research I discovered that . . . [fill in with cited specific predictions to illustrate that fossil fuels will run out if we continue our present rates of consumption].
[Preview] There are three possible ways to solve this problem, but only one can really work.  Today I will persuade you that nuclear power is the only viable answer to our energy crisis.

[The first part of the Body lists and examines and then dismisses the competing options.]

I. We could try to develop wind power.
A. It is being tried.  [describe the Plan]
B. It won't work. [Practicality]

II. We could try to develop solar power.
A. It is being tried. [Plan]
B. It won't work. [Practicality]

[The you introduce and defend your proposed plan.]

III. We must develop nuclear power.
A. It is being used.  [Plan]
B. It works and will solve our energy crisis. [Practicality]

Conclusion: Call to "action."

Alternative Comparative Advantages format:  If you have only 2 plans to compare, you might arrange the speech as follows:

I. Nuclear power is better than solar power because it is more reliable.
II. Nuclear power is better than solar power because it produces more energy for less cost.
III. Nuclear power is better than solar power because it is no more harmful to the environment.

Topical Pattern [See pp. 39-40 in the workbook.]
This pattern may be resorted to when arguing against a change in the status quo.
The strategy is essentially one of listing reasons to keep the present system.
Problem, Plan and Practicality must still be dealt with.

Sample Topical Pattern:

Introduction: CARP+ show that a call for change had been made.

I. We should not abolish casino gambling in Iowa because no one is being hurt by it.
II. We should not abolish casino gambling in Iowa because it is not an immoral activity.
III. We should not abolish casino gambling in Iowa because it increases tourism in the state.
IV. We should not abolish casino gambling in Iowa because it is raising money for education.

Conclusion: Simply reinforce the case and urge the class to act accordingly.

Sample Patterns of Organization: Exercise

  • Specific Purpose: To persuade my audience to never drink and drive.
I. Alcohol-related traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for college age people.
II. Drinking and driving is a social problem that is caused by peer pressure, inconsistent laws, and irresponsible actions.
III. You can help combat this problem by taking three simple steps.
  • Specific Purpose: To persuade my audience to vote.
I. This nation faces a serious crisis of voter apathy.
II. You must register, study and vote to contribute positively to the process.
III. In a nation where everyone votes responsibly we would achieve the vision of intelligent discussion of issues and candidates who are held accountable.
  • Specific Purpose: To persuade my audience to support a Congressional censure of President Clinton
I.  Censure is a better step than impeachment because it is a fair response to the situation.
II. Censure is a better step than impeachment because the American people support it.
III. Censure is a better step than impeachment because it sets a less dangerous precedent.

Methods of Persuasion

Aristotle: Greek teacher/scientist (384-322 B.C.)
Student of Plato; Teacher of Alexander the Great; Author of over 170 works; 30 of which survived.

His work, the Rhetoric, is widely regarded as the most important work on persuasion ever published.
Aristotle tackled the question: how do we come to believe something or to believe we should act in a certain way in the absence of knowing “the truth”?

Aristotle details three major modes of proof.  Think of it as three ways that people are persuaded or that we come to believe things or to act upon things.

  • Ethos--”ethical,” credibility appeal.  Sometimes we come to believe something or to act upon something simply because someone we trusted told us it was so.  Aristotle suggests that the source of the material--the perception of the person the persuasive appeal comes from--is the most powerful mode of persuasion.  In popular culture, Ethos can be likened to James T. Kirk or to Commander Riker of Star Trek fame.
  • Pathos--”pathetic,” emotional appeal.  Sometimes we come to believe something or to act upon something simply because of a gut feeling or an appeal to our emotions.  We act out of fear and greed and also out of love and compassion.  We even act in certain ways because we are concerned about what others will think of us.  In popular culture, Pathos can be likened to Dr. McCoy or to Dianna Troi [no coincidence in that rhyme I think].
  • Logos--”logical,” rational appeal.  Sometimes we come to believe something or to act upon something simply because someone gave us what we considered to be a "good reason."  Here is where we consider evidence and reasoning as parts of the persuasive process.  In popular culture, Logos can be likened to Spock or to Data.
Logos is the most complicated of the modes of proof and we examine it both to better use arguments in our speaking and writing, and also to become better critical thinkers when we are in audiences.
Use of support material constitutes offering "good reasons" to accept a claim.

Three Types of Support Material

All three types of support material require that you:
make accurate use
evaluate and identify the source (beware bias)
consider recency
consider strength

Guidelines for use of Examples:

1. Do not use them alone to support an important claim.
2. Examples are useful in clarifying, reinforcing, or personalizing ideas.
3 Ethical use demands that you consider the source, age, and representativeness of the example.

Tips for effective use of statistics:

1. Combine statistics with examples.
2. Don't use too many at a time.
3. Identify the source of the statistics.
4. Translate your statistics.
5. Round off your statistics.
6. Use visual aids.

Guidelines for the use of testimony:

1. Quote accurately.
2. Paraphrase fairly.
3. Use qualified sources.
4. Use reluctant testimony.
5. Always identify the source and the source's credentials.

Methods of Persuasion: Reasoning

The two main forms of reasoning are deduction and induction.
A. Deduction refers to arguments that run from general to specific; they are characterized by necessity.
B. Induction refers to arguments that run from specific to general; they are characterized by an inductive leap.

Classic form of Deduction: the syllogism

The U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens the right to vote.
Women are citizens.
**The U.S. Constitution guarantees women the right to vote.

Senator Grassley has recently argued:

What is good for Farmers is good for Iowa.
The chapter 12 bankruptcy provision is good for farmers.
Therefore, the chapter q2 bankruptcy provision is good for Iowa

Popular form of Deduction: The Enthymeme:

George Bush is not a wimp; he's a military hero.

She's a girl; she can't throw the ball.

He's a man, of course he wouldn't stop to ask directions.

Our text associates deductive reasoning with the class of arguments called arguments from principle.
In the Chewing Tobacco Speech:

To be effective a law must be enforced and have adequate penalties.
Adopting my plan will make Wisconsin's laws  on chewing tobacco be enforced and will create adequate penalties.
My plan will be effective at curbing chewing tobacco use.

Beware the false principle.
The police say he committed the crime, so he committed the crime.


starting from principles that only those who already agree with you would maintain.

The major form of Inductive reasoning our text calls argument from specific instances.
[Otherwise known as generalization arguments.]

In the chewing tobacco speech:

“Chewing tobacco use is widespread.”
The American Cancer Society says one in twelve Americans is a regular user.
The average age of first use is 10.
40% of high school boys say they have tried it.
21% of kindergartners (boys?) have tried it.

Surveys, studies, and even elections are often grounded in reasoning from specific instances.
conducting a poll
“Four out of five dentists surveyed”
Nielsen ratings

Beware the Hasty Generalization
my friends and I watched violent cartoons and never committed a crime, so . . . .

the two people I sat next to in lecture got Bs on their speeches, so everybody but me got a B on the speech.

“but Mom, everybody else is going to the party!”

Arguments from Analogy
Literal and Figurative; both are grounded in the concept of similarity

Literal Analogies
Socialized medicine works in Canada, so socialized medicine will work in the U.S.

The U.S. got rid of the half-penny in 1857 without causing harms, so today we can get rid of the penny without causing harms.

Higher penalties for selling chewing tobacco to minors in California has reduced chewing tobacco use by minors by 60%.  Therefore, higher penalties in Wisconsin will also work.

The Kansas City Royals have switched from chewing tobacco to bubble gum, so other teams would switch if people appealed to them.

Weak Analogies
Having a funeral without the body is like having a wedding without the bride.

The university shouldn't be able to tell me what classes I have to take; after all, the store manager doesn't tell me what groceries to buy.

A ban on all alcohol use in the dorms will work at ISU because such a ban worked at Simpson College.

Figurative Analogies
useful for framing an argument

As the tiger needs its claws to provide for its internal needs, so does America need its defense in order to meet domestic concerns.

Malcolm X: An integrated civil rights movement is like strong black coffee diluted with cream; its strength is lost.

Causal Arguments
The most challenging of the types of reasoning.  We can't see causal relationships, we can only infer them.  Hume saw that in order to conclude a causal relationship we must see constant conjunctions as well as a relationship in time.  Furthermore, the causal link must make "sense" according to our sense of how the world works.

How do we reach the conclusion that cigarettes cause lung cancer?

Problems of Causal Arguments

  • “post hoc ergo propter hoc” = “after this therefore because of this”
It happens when we leap from a simple relationship in time to a belief in a causal link with insufficient support.  Superstitions are classic cases of the post hoc fallacy.  It is also seen in “just look what happened after we . . . . “ arguments. The problem arises when we fail to acknowledge that causal relationships are often quite complicated.  To baldly assert: "rain forest destruction is the cause of global warming," is to invite an audience to argue with you mentally as they list the other causes they have heard discussed.  Again, to claim: "T.V. is responsible for school gun violence," will require much discussion and evidence and will be better handled if you acknowledge that there are multiple factors that contribute.  Then you can focus on the one source of the problem and the solutions to it.
  • correlation vs. causation
Did you know that every year as the amount of ice cream being eaten in this country increases, so do the number of drownings?

Tips for success in causal reasoning.
use causal chains to help the audience see the causal relationship.
use testimony of experts to support conclusions

I. A few class topics for discussion:

 III. Tips to help you think of a great topic.


1. Pick something you feel strongly about. If you don't feel strongly about your topic, how are you going to

persuade the audience to feel the same way? Students sometime say, "But I don't feel strongly about anything!" Yes you do. Sit down with a piece of paper and brainstorm. If you like baseball, give a speech for or against salary caps. If you like rap music, give a speech on why rap music is not as violent as many people think. You get the idea.

2. Avoid your "hot button" topics. Don't pick something you feel too strongly about. Hot button topics are issues you feel so strongly about that it's hard for you to understand where the other side is coming from. In order to give a good persuasive speech, you need to understand the other side's point of view, because how else will you change it?


3. Pick something controversial. It doesn't have to be extremely controversial, but you do need to present a topic that not everyone agrees with. Otherwise there's no persuasion going on, and it's not a very good persuasive speech. For example, don't give a speech on why smoking is bad for your health. Who's going to disagree with that? Instead, try giving a speech for or against a campus-wide smoking ban. Now you have some controversy and a super topic.

4. Avoid "tired topics." Tired topics are those that students pick all the time and that your instructor has heard over and over again. Yawn. Be creative.

A. The death penalty. In my experience, this is by far the number one tired topic chosen by students. I have no idea why, as I doubt many students have personal experience with the death penalty.

B. Why you should join a fraternity or sorority. There's nothing wrong with this topic, but everyone on campus has heard these arguments before. Your audience will tune you out.

C. Why marijuana should be legal. If you choose this topic, you need to give an excellent speech or the class will dismiss you as a stoner.

D. Why the drinking age should be 18. See #3.

E. Abortion. This topic isn't as tired as you think, but everyone has heard these arguments before.

F. Why you should wear your seat belt. Or why you should wear your helmet. This is not new information.

G. Why you shouldn't smoke. Also not new information. Why you shouldn't binge drink is kind of a tired topic too, but it's more timely.

H. Why you should use a condom. An important message? Yes. A new message? No. If you do this speech, for gosh sakes, don't demonstrate how to put a condom on a banana.

I. Why you should give blood. Another useful topic that unfortunately has been overused.

J. Why you should recycle. See #9.

K. Violence in the media. This topic is both tired and difficult. There's so much information out there about violence in the media, and lots of it is conflicting. Sex in the media also is a tired topic.

L. Why you should adopt a pet. This speech always goes the same: cute pictures of kitties and doggies, followed by horrible stats about how many animals are put down. The get your pet spayed or neutered speech is not as tired, but avoid any cheesy references to Bob Barker.

M. Affirmative Action. There's nothing wrong with a controversial topic, but this one has been overused big time.


5. Pick a current event. Having trouble thinking of a topic? Go read a newspaper. What's going on in the world? If there's an election, endorse a candidate or a ballot referendum.


6. Pick a campus or local issue. Are there controversial issues around campus? Are there controversial issues in your college town? These topics will be very relevant to your audience members.


7. Pick an issue of interest to the audience. Give a speech about cell phones, or music downloads, or tuition hikes, or something the audience cares about. If they don't care about your issue, they won't be persuaded.


8. Pick a smaller part of a big issue. Don't try to change people's mind about a huge issue in your short speech, because you can't. Think you can change your classmates' mind about abortion in a 6-8 minute speech? Of course not. However, you might change their minds about a portion of this issue, like parental notification laws.


9. Be cautious with issues that some audience members might find offensive. Speech topics that some students might consider to be racist, anti-gay, or something along those lines are not great topics. Think about this: the object of this speech is to persuade your audience. If some of your audience members feel offended on a personal level, they sure aren't going to be persuaded. I'm a huge free speech advocate, but you might consider finding another outlet to express certain ideas than a persuasive speech.

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