SPEECHES may be a leader’s greatest asset.
The ability to write (and deliver) a strong, convincing speech is one that might be crucial for many people at least once in their lives.
In the following essay, we will look at important techniques for writing a strong persuasive speech, taking, as an example, John F. Kennedy’s now famous speech rallying the people of America to go to the moon.
A “list of three” has a very big impact on an audience — it is usually used to drive home a point or makes the point memorable, if not catchy, for the audience.
An example of this in Kennedy’s speech is when he says: “But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them.”
This arouses a sense of patriotism in the audience, and convinces them that this is the correct thing to do, the “American” thing to do.
Centralising America around their homes also makes them feel very important in the moon effort, persuading them to support it.
The use of facts, figures and technical terminology also gives a lot of weight to the speech.
They are extremely effective in motivating the audience and in persuading them that this is a possible and worthy goal.
Describing the Saturn C-1 rocket booster as capable of “generating power equivalent to 10,000 automobiles with their accelerators on the floor”, Kennedy uses an object that the audience are familiar with but in a manner which emphasises the magnitude of the achievement through his use of a statistic.
The relatable common object juxtaposed with powerful language is a strong tool in motivating the audience and persuading them to support going to the moon.
Finally, Kennedy uses hyperbole to help the audience visualise the enormity of the space programme, and how much it is achieving.
After appealing to the audience’s sense of adventure, he describes the space race as the “most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure of our time” (note the use of the “list of three” for impact).
This hyperbole makes the space programme seem like a massively dangerous undertaking but also an awesome one, linking it to the great adventures undertaken by Americans earlier in his speech.
By comparing his audience to the pioneering Americans who made the country what it is, Kennedy inspires and persuades them to support him because he makes the space programme sound like something a country such as the US not only should do, but must do.
Kennedy uses a few more devices that will be examined in our next article.
To conclude this one, here is an extract from an argumentative speech written by Jo Too, a Year 9 pupil from The Alice Smith School.
Her full speech will be featured in The World Book 2012.
She has used some of the discussed devices but on a very different subject:
The massive problem of air pollution associated with animal farming cannot be ignored, and must be addressed.
Did you know that over a quarter of the world’s methane emission is caused by animal farming?
The jaw dropping, colossal, and excessive amount of energy required to produce the smallest portions of meat is almost illogical.
To produce one calorie of energy from meat takes 60 calories of petrol, whereas growing grains and legumes to directly feed people produces 20 calories for only one calorie of fuel used.
Amazingly, growing crops is 1,200 times more efficient than producing meat.
Put simply, it is a waste of precious energy.
Why then, do we still eat meat?
The writer is a Year 11 student at the Alice Smith School.
This is the first of a two-part article. The second part will be featured in October.
The World Book
THE World Book project team has begun its selection process for the pieces that will appear in The World Book 2012 later this year.
The publication will comprise the best write-ups from the past four years' editions and new entries for this year.
The themes for this year are If Music Was..., Finding Neverland, What If?, Life After Death and When The World Was Puddle Wonderful.
The team thanks all students who have sent in their writing.
The next article will feature an extract from the upcoming edition.