Persuasive speech assignment: sales presentation

This is often listed as the most enjoyable and the most educational of the speech assignments in my evaluations. The sales format is something students are generally familiar with already and the techniques in sales are the same as “selling” yourself in a job interview.

The topics can include both products and services. Free items can work for students who dislike a materialistic focus — I’ve heard several great speeches on parks near the university that are completely free, for example. The only topic I discourage is electronics — there are only so many ways to make an iPhone speech interesting and they’ll run out of them after the first three.

For format, I have students use an INPC pattern (introduction, needs, presentation, conclusion) — it is basically the Motivated Sequence without the Visualization step. It is simple and effective.

Here is how the assignment is described to students:

  • Goal: To employ the techniques of persuasive speaking to a college audience about a product or service by appealing to their needs. Sales speeches incorporate the principles of persuasive speaking in a familiar format and can be fun as well.
  • Requirements: 6-minute speech. Visual aids: 2 required. Outline with bibliography: 5 sources are required. Notecards: 5 permitted. A question and answer session will follow each speech.
  • Recommendations: The challenge of this speech is to choose a product or service that would be useful or relevant for your particular audience. The theme of the speech should complete the sentence, “I want my audience to purchase…” The most compelling research sources are those that are unbiased, not product web sites. Failure to cite sources in this speech will result in a maximum possible grade of “D”.

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About teachingpublicspeaking

I believe public speaking can go from most dreaded class to favorite class. I'm a former public speaking college instructor who spent years seeking out activities, assignments and examples to make the class interactive as well as educational -- they are collected here. I welcome suggestions for additions.

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