Free Resources for Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks

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Paul Sparks, Sino-Canadian International College, Guangxi University, Nanning.

Lesson Plans for "Watch, Listen & Speak", Semester 2



Listening & Speaking, Persuasive Speaking

Adapted from:

Lesson Objectives: Students will be able to: Demonstrate the appropriate classroom public speaking and listening skills (e.g., body language, articulation etc.) that would be necessary to influence or change someone's mind or way of thinking about a topic. Students will learn to define the elements of persuasion, recognize the elements of personal credibility and develop methods to analyze other students' speaking.


Delivering a Persuasive Speech

Sometimes we have to use skills to convince others about our positions, this is called persuasion.

Can you recall any experiences when you tried to convince friends or family about something?

By understanding appropriate public speaking techniques, students will learn how to prepare and deliver a persuasive speech.

Students need to understand that how they say something and how they physically present themselves are just as important as what they say.

When we are trying to convince someone of something, we must first establish our credibility, or in other words, we must sell ourselves before we sell the message.

We should not use words such as "maybe" or "might"- we should use positive words such as "will" and "must."

We must supply enough information to prove our points so that they we can seem knowledgeable.

People can usually spot someone who is trying to "wing" a speech.

We should also appear to be truthful - even when we are really stretching a point.

Do not be afraid to show a little emotion. You and your voice must match the tone of the words.


There are several important aspects of presentation to keep in mind; the academic elements of persuasion are:


Body Language: Make sure that you have a proper posture. If your shoulders are sagging and legs are crossed, you will not appear as being sincere and people just will not accept your message.

Articulation: Articulation means how the total vocal process works. There are several steps to this entire process. First, you need air from the lungs, your vocal cords must be working, your mouth and tongue must be in sync, and you have to make sure that they have got some saliva in their mouth, so drink something before giving a talk.

Pronunciation: Students need to pronounce each word. They must avoid slang, except to make a point, and not slur the words. They must avoid saying, "you know."

Pitch: Pitch refers to the highs and lows of the voice. Whatever you do, you must avoid a monotone!

Speed: The speed, or pace, is an important variable to control. Between 140-160 words per minute is the normal pace for a persuasive speech. Any faster and they may appear to be glib; any slower and they sound like they are lecturing. If you are not sure about your speed, tape yourself for one minute and then replay it and count the number of words they used in the minute!

Pausing: The pause is a critical persuasive tool. When you want to emphasize a certain word, pause for one second before; this highlights the word. If you really want to punch it, pause before and after the word!

Volume: Volume is another good tool for a persuasive speech, but use it with caution. If you scream all the way through the speech, people will become accustomed to it and it will lose its effectiveness. On the other hand, a few well-timed shouts can liven up the speech!

Quality: The quality of voice is gauged by the overall impact that your voice has on the listeners. Quality of voice is about its character and attributes. You must try to keep the vocal quality high; it is what separates their voices from everyone else's.

Variance: Variance of vocal elements is the most important consideration of all! One of the most persuasive speakers in modern history was Winston Churchill. One of his most remarkable qualities was his ability to vary the elements of his voice. He would start with a slow voice and then switch gears to a more rapid pace. Try to change your pitch, volume, and speed at least once every 30 seconds, if only for just one word. This keeps the class locked into the speech, if for no other reason than it sounds interesting!

TASK: With a partner or in a small group:

Try to persuade your partner to go to a party with you, which is hosted by someone that they don't like.








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