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Arguing for Change


          When arguing for change, a speaker must address either consciously or subconsciously the need for change. What is in it for the audience/listener? Something needs to be taken care of to address the problem. A speaker must also present a plan for change. Provide a plan of action—a way to meet the goal. Lastly, when arguing for change a speaker must show the practicality of the plan. Will the plan work for the audience? Is the plan practical? Can they feasibly do it?

          Persuasive speeches can be organized in the following ways. Be sure to explore each of them to help you decide how you would like to organize your speeches.

  • Problem-Solution

  • Problem-Cause-Solution

  • Comparative Advantage

  • Criteria-Satisfaction

  • Compare-Contrast

  • Cause-Effect

  • Effect-Cause

  • Motivated Sequence


          When arguing for change, it may be more effective if you don’t say the words “to persuade you” in your thesis sentence. This sets up a listening barrier at the beginning of your speech by locking audience members into defending their beliefs. Humans are set against change. By beginning this way, you are telling your audience to expect arguments for changing their beliefs or behavior and they may become defensive. Work to find a different way to state your persuasive intent without using the words “to persuade” but you must not lose the persuasive intent for the audience. 

Example: “Today, I am going to show you . . .”

Example: “Today, I want to explain the benefits . . .”


Example: “What I want to help you understand is . . .”


Example: “These ideas I want to tell you about will help . . . ”


          Persuasion is also a good opportunity to utilize a delayed thesis. This is when you don’t tell your audience upfront what your persuasive intent is for them. You “hold” the thesis until toward the end of your speech. This allows you to provide evidence and then let them know specifically what you are wanting them to do or think. This method can be difficult for new speakers. You still need to have your persuasive intent come through in the speech with careful and thoughtful planning.

Review Questions

1) What barriers may your audience perceive if you tell them you are trying to persuade them?

2) What is a delayed thesis? How might you use it in a persuasive presentation?

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