44 Persuasive Speaking: Activities and Resources

Lynn Meade


There are so many helpful videos and activities that I want to share with you so I decided to create this overflow section.  Whether you are a student wanting to know more, a business person looking for insights, or a teacher looking for classroom ideas, these extra activities and resources are here for you.



Discussion and activities


Watch this clip from The King’s Speech where the new king makes his first wartime radio broadcast of Britians’ s declaration of war on Germany in 1939. This movie is a dramatic interpretation of the true story of the future King George VI who worked to overcome a stammer.  (Make note of how he has marked the manuscript that he reads from at 1:17-1:21).


Corporate Story Telling Activity

Watch the Charity Water Story before class and discuss these questions in class.

  1. Do you think this model of corporate storytelling is more effective than the traditional model of listing mission and vision on the website?
  2. Ethos. How does he build personal credibility? How about credibility for the organization?
  3. Pathos. List some of the emotional appeals? Were they effective, why or why not? Were they ethical, why or why not?
  4. Logos. List the ways he used logic (facts, data, charts). Which was the most effective for you?
  5. Were you persuaded? If so at what point did you become persuaded?
  6. How does he tie the opening and the closing?
  7. How does he “ask for the sale”? Write out some of his phrases.
  8. What are some of the ways, that he reengages the audience to make them see they are part of the speech?
  9. How does he use inoculation (help people overcome objections that people may be thinking)?
  10. When my husband watched this, he said, “I could feel myself being persuaded and could tell where they were headed with it, so I had to stop watching it.” When do you physically or mentally “stop watching”? How can a speaker keep their audience?
  11. What organizational pattern does this fit? Map it out.
  12. Is this an example of public speaking? Explain your answer.

Persuasive Speaking on Gun Control


Days after a gunman entered her school and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, addressed a gun control rally on Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

  1. What does she say to connect to her audience? Who is her target audience? Who is the secondary audience, how can you tell?
  2. Logos: How does she break down numbers so the audience can relate?
  3. Pathos: Clearly, this is an emotional speech, how does that emotion affect you–persuasive or too much?
  4. Ethos: How does she build her credibility?
  5. Find where she repeats the same phrase over and over, is this effective, why or why not?

Charron Heston is a longtime NRA Advocate. One type of persuasive speech is not to change the minds of an audience but to “rally the troops” to make them support their cause even more.

  1. How does he connect to his audience?
  2. Colorful Language: He uses a lot of alliterations (repeat the same letter), make a list of all the alliterations. Do you think they were effective for this type of speech? Why or why not.
  3. Colorful language: How does he use personification (giving inanimate objects life like characteristics like that of a person.) Do you think they were effective for this type of speech? Why or why not.
  4. Colorful language: He has several examples of antithesis (pairing or opposites in parallel phrases –one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind). Make a list of them and discuss their effectiveness.
  5. What do you think about his choice of prop and the timing of the prop?
  6. In the end, he uses the line, “From my cold dead hands.” Look up the history of the phrase and how it was used after this speech. What is your opinion of this as a final persuasive statement?

Halberg, S. (2015). Reversing Type 2 diabetes starts with ignoring the guidelines. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da1vvigy5tQ


Freedom in Thought (2018). The three methods of persuasion: Rhetoric-Aristotle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5z3zWJIthI&t=1s


Langston, C. (2016). How to use rhetoric to get what you want. https://www.ted.com/talks/camille_langston_how_to_use_rhetoric_to_get_what_you_want

Ulmer, K. (2016). The three persuasive appeal: Logos, ethos, pathos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oUfOh_CgHQ


Schoder, W. (2017). Mr. Rogers and the power of persuasion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DGdDQrXv5U.



About three and a half years ago, I made a discovery. And this discovery profoundly changed my view on how I thought the world worked, and it even profoundly changed the way in which I operate in it. As it turns out, there’s a pattern. As it turns out, all the great inspiring leaders and organizations in the world, whether it’s Apple or Martin Luther King or the Wright brothers, they all think, act and communicate the exact same way. And it’s the complete opposite to everyone else. All I did was codify it, and it’s probably the world’s simplest idea. I call it the golden circle.

Sinek, S. (2009). How great leaders inspire action.https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en Standard YouTube License.

For information on Values to consider different types of purchasers…

Strategic Business Insights. The US Vals Survey. http://www.strategicbusinessinsights.com/vals/presurvey.shtml


Stick to your strong arguments, because your arguments don’t add up in the minds of the receiver, they average out.

The most robust psychological explanation for this is one of averaging. In this model, we take in information, and those information are afforded a weighted score. And our minds do not add those pieces of information, but rather average those pieces of information. So when you introduce irrelevant or even weak arguments, those weak arguments, if you will, reduce the weight of your overall argument. Niro Sivanathan


Sivanathan, N. (2019). The counterintuitive way to be more persuasive. https://www.ted.com/talks/niro_sivanathan_the_counterintuitive_way_to_be_more_persuasive. Standard YouTube License.




In an article by Steve Booth-Butterfield, entitled Inoculation Theory. Ouch! But It’s Food for you  or the Best Defense is Bad Offense, he gave this example:

You might recall the infamous “woman” problem of President Bill Clinton (1992-2000).  What you may not remember is that this problem popped up during the Presidential primaries held over the winter of 1991-92.  A former amorous partner, Gennifer Flowers, scheduled a press conference declaring her adulterous relationship with the then Governor of Arkansas.  The Clinton campaign got wind of this planned press conference by Ms. Flowers and on the Sunday night before that following Monday afternoon event, Bill and Hillary Clinton appeared on an episode of the popular TV news magazine show, “60 Minutes.”  In it, the reporter directly asked about the “woman” problem and the Clintons, especially, Mrs. Clinton responded in a way that seemed to acknowledge past marital problems, but that these problems were way in the past, and that they were together in marriage as husband and wife.

This is an excellent practical application of inoculation.  Before the “real” attack from Gennifer Flowers could occur, Mr. Clinton managed to produce a weak attack on voter attitudes about fidelity, marital privacy, and politics.  The appearance on “60 Minutes” was their first large scale national appearance in the media, so many viewers were getting their first look at the Clintons.  And, that first looking included a weak presentation of the “woman” problem and how the Clintons handled it.

When Gennifer Flowers came along the next day, not only was her press conference “old news” it was also inoculated news.  People had already been attacked on their attitudes about Mr. Clinton’s character and alleged defects and they had already defended their attitudes on that issue.  When Ms. Flowers came along, many people could easily defend their attitudes and beliefs about Mr. Clinton and just as easily discount Ms. Flowers’ claims as a tawdry and transparent attempt to gain her “fifteen minutes” of fame.

Booth-Butterfield, S. (n.d). Inoculation Theory. Ouch! But It’s Good For You or The Best Defense Is A Bad Offense. http://healthyinfluence.com/wordpress/steves-primer-of-practical-persuasion-3-0/feeling/inoculation/

“Not everybody believes in the possibility of political persuasion. Many people see political positions as expressions of innate personality traits – hard-wired into us either by our genes or by an irreversible process of socialization. Why should we waste time trying to be persuasive when people never really change their minds? This is a reasonable concern.

The idea that persuasion doesn’t work comes from a bad application of good science. A substantial body of research suggests that our political beliefs are shaped by more or less fixed psychological characteristics … Research like this, however, tells us about the difficulty of conversion, not persuasion. These are not the same things. We too often misrepresent the task of political persuasion by thinking of the most strident partisan we have ever encountered and imagined what it would take to turn that person into an equally strident partisan for the other side. This sort of Paul-on-the-Road-to-Damascus conversion rarely happens in politics. Most people don’t change their fundamental values, and if we expect them to, we are going to be very disappointed.

But we usually don’t need people to change their fundamental values in order to convince them to adopt a particular position. The fact that people have fundamental values makes it possible to persuade them by appealing to those values. But we have to find values that we really share.”
― Michael Austin, We Must Not Be Enemies: Restoring America’s Civic Tradition

Austin, M. (2019). We must not be enemies: Restoring America’s civic tradition. Rowman & Littlefield.

Since this is an advanced class, we are working on refining our skills. You should have learned the structure of an argument in basic communication already but I am providing a video refresher.


Jenkinson, P. (2019). Toulmin Model. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syGLJy7jjsk Standard YouTube License.


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