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Monroe's Motivated Sequence for Persuasive Speech

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  • 0:04 Speaking With a…
  • 1:23 Monroe's Motivated Steps
  • 4:18 Monroe's Sequence in Action
  • 5:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Kuchta

Lisa has a master's degree in communication, has taught college communication and writing courses, and has authored a textbook on presentation skills.

Learn when to use Monroe's motivated sequence in persuasive speaking. Learn how to incorporate the five steps, attention, need, satisfaction, visualization, and action, into your persuasive speech.

Speaking With a Decisive Purpose

When speaking to persuade others, it is important to know what the ultimate goal of your speech is. What is it that you want your audience to do at the end of the speech? Often, people have vague goals: they want to convince the audience that John Doe is the best candidate for president; they want to persuade people that new laws should be written; or they want to show people just how problematic persistent hunger is to members of their own communities.

But, really good persuasive speeches have specific goals that require action. You shouldn't just want to change people's minds; you should want to change their behavior. The goals should be more specific: to convince an audience to actually vote for John Doe, to persuade people to petition their representatives to write a new law, or to sway people to volunteer at their local soup kitchen or donate food to the cause. In these examples, a specific action is the end goal of the speech.

Identifying your end goal may be easy enough, but the real question is How do I get my audience to complete that action? This was the question that Alan Monroe of Purdue University sought to answer in the 1930s. He developed Monroe's motivated sequence for just that purpose. Monroe's motivated sequence is a persuasive structure to help you organize a speech that ends in a specific action you want the audience to take.

Monroe's Motivated Steps

There are five steps in Monroe's motivated sequence to follow in order to lead your audience along the path of persuasion. They are attention, need, satisfaction, visualization, and action. We will look at each of these steps one at a time, in the order in which you should use them:

1. Attention - You should start your speech with an exciting opening line that grabs the audience's attention or evokes their curiosity. You can start with an interesting fact, a compelling story, a particularly poignant quote, or even a striking visual to get your audience intrigued right from the start of your speech.

2. Need - This is the first main point of your speech. In it, you should tell your audience about the sad, upsetting, or horrific nature of the current state of affairs. In political campaign speeches, this is when the politicians explain the current problems facing the country in gloomy and disheartening descriptions. The goal of this step is to leave your audience feeling, 'Wow, this is a serious issue! I wonder how we can solve it.' It is important to include relevant and reputable information and research to support the need step. Otherwise, your audience may believe that you are merely blowing issues out of proportion.

3. Satisfaction - Now that you have your audience wondering what they can do to solve the problem you have so artfully described, you can move onto your second main point - your solution. In other words, you need to satisfy the need you have created. In the example of campaign speeches, the satisfaction step would include the candidate's plans for solving the problems they explained. When crafting your satisfaction step, make sure that the solution you offer can actually solve all the bleakness you depicted in the Need step.

4. Visualization - Now that you have offered a solution, your third point should metaphorically paint a picture for your audience of all the good this solution can offer or how the situation will continue to deteriorate if your solution is not implemented. You can use one of three tactics in this section:

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