How to write a persuasive speech

Jhen asks: can you give me one or two minute persuasive speeches

Hi Jhen –


Thanks for your question about persuasive speeches.  Persuasive speeches are speeches that are intended to get the listener to do something.  When your schoolteacher gives you a big lecture on geography or math, that’s not a persuasive speech (even if they end it by saying “Do your homework!”).  A persuasive speech is one that truly wants to change your mind about what you’re going to do.  Advertisements are all persuasive (even the ones that seem to just be informative or funny).  Nearly all political speeches are persuasive – with all the action going on in the world today, our televisions and radios are loaded with it, from the yelling in the squares in Egypt and Syria to Mr. Cameron and the strikers in England arguing against each other, to Mr. Obama and all the people running against him for the presidency – everyone’s wanting the listener to agree with them and act accordingly.


So you want an example of a one-or-two-minute one?  Well here’s one I gave this morning:  “Hey, Cat!  This is my yard!  I’m shut inside this house, but if I can get out I’m going to jump on you so hard your tail will stick through your ears!  Get out!  I said Get Out!  Stop looking at me like you’re so smug and smart – I’ll wipe that grin off your face you rotten…”  You get the idea?


No, it didn’t work.


The good and bad news for you is that one, or even two, minutes is a very short time.  So if I were assigned to write such a speech, it would probably go something like this:


All people love dogs, and are happy to see them.  However, there is one type of dog that people can’t bear to look at, and that’s a hungry one.  A pooch with its ribs sticking out is a disturbing sight, and something that frightens people, as they figure that a starving dog might be dangerous.  And of course, you don’t want me to frighten anybody.  The best solution to this problem is to take that big pot of spaghetti that you’re cooking on the stove and give me half of it.

Another reaction that you really don’t want from people is for them to look at you and think that you’re overweight, or out of shape.  Well, my goodness, if you keep all that spaghetti for yourself, that’s precisely what will happen!

So why not kill the proverbial two birds with one stone, and give me a big bowl of spaghetti, with lots of meatballs and parmesan cheese and, oh yes, just a bit of that delicious tomato sauce – the bay leaves really do make it, don’t they! – and I know we will please everyone we see!



It’s longer than two minutes, but I guess the greatest persuasive speech ever is the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” when the young king rouses his weary uninspired soldiers to fight with him.  It’s way over two minutes though, as are a lot of the other greats, like Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” or Winston Churchill’s “We shall fight on the beaches.”  They’re all worth reading.  But for you, just go for something you really care about – like me and that spaghetti! – and say what you feel and why others should agree with you, and I’m sure you’ll do great!





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