Criteria for Evaluating Persuasive Speeches

Criteria for Evaluating Persuasive Speeches

In this topic, we have been looking at principles or persuasive speaking, now let’s apply those principles to evaluating and presenting a persuasive speech. Outlines the criteria for evaluating a persuasive speech. Use this checklist to evaluate the sample persuasive speech that follows.

Check all items that were accomplished effectively.

Primary Criteria

1. Was the specific goal designed to affect a belief or move an audience reaction?

2. Did the speaker present clearly stated reasons?

3. Did the speaker use facts and expert opinions to support these reasons?

4. Was the organizational pattern appropriate for the type of goal and assumed attitude of the audience?

5. Did the speaker use emotional language to motivate the audience?

6. Was the speaker effective in establishing his or her credibility on this topic?

7. Was the speaker ethical in handling material?

General Criteria

1. Was the specific goal clear?

2. Was the introduction effective?

3. Was the organizational pattern appropriate for the intent and content of the speech?

5. Was the conclusion effective?

6. Was the language clear, vivid, emphatic, and appropriate?

7. Was the delivery convincing?

Evaluate the speech as (check one):

__ excellent __ good __ average __ fair __ poor.

You can watch, listen to, and evaluate the following persuasive speech by Charone Frankel, a student at San Francisco State University,
under Speech Interactive on your Communicate! CD-ROM.

Sample Speech: Dangerous Trucks, by Charone S. Frankel

This section contains an example of a persuasive speech outline, a speech plan,
and a speech.

Speech Outline

Specific goal: I want my audience to believe that we should solve the problem of highway deaths caused by unsafe trucks. Introduction

I. On the night Heidi Jorgenson was killed in a truck accident, she had been planning her wedding.

II. The trucking industry must be held accountable for their increasing number of accidents.

Thesis statement: Unsafe trucking is a growing problem that should be corrected before more people lose their lives needlessly.


I. Trucking safety is a major problem.

A. The more than 75 million trucks traveling in the United States are involved in some 250,000 crashes and 6,000 fatalities every

B. While fatality rates for most vehicles have remained constant, truckrelated deaths have risen 20 percent since 1992. ( low that we’ve seen the extent of the problem, let’s look at why it exisrs.)

II. The trucking industry has some terrible safety habits.

A. Worst is the practice of making truckers drive too many hours.

1. Thirty percent of truck wrecks are caused by driver fatigue.

2. Truckers drive 66 to 75 hours a week even though they are supposed to be limited to 60 hours.

3. The American Trucking Association wants changes in laws to allow truckers to stay on the road longer.

B. Nearly as bad is the fact that the trucking industry is not bothering to use new safety equipment that is available.

1. Trucking companies are skeptical of the costs.

2. Moreover, trucking companies refuse to recognize the safety benefits. (The problem is great, but he cure is relatively easy) will. The problem can be greatly reduced in two ways.

A. First, the government needs to take a more active role.

1. The government needs to be prodded to enforce laws that are already on the books.

2. The government needs to pass legislation that would increase fines for safety violations.

3. The government needs to pass legislation requiring companies to install safety equipment.

B. Second, we as individuals can help.

1. We can lobby Congress to act.

2. We can take a more active role in following safety practices.


I. We have seen the seriousness of the problem.

II. We must work to solve the problem if we think our lives are worth more than the paltry $2400 the trucking company was fined for the
accident that killed Heidi.

Speech Plan

Audience attitude toward goal: My perception is that my audience is neutral on the subject of truck safety-largely because they are not familiar with the extent of the problem. But since most of us have had occasion to be fearful of the number of trucks and the way they’re driven on major highways, I think the audience will be willing to listen to me. I will attempt to build a positive attitude by using information that they can relate to and understand.

Organization: I have organized my speech following a problem-solution order. Since I believe that my audience will be at least neutral at the start, I think this straightforward organization will work. Credibility: I plan to build credibility by showing my familiarity with material that illustrates the problems in the trucking industry. I have good sources, and I will document key information throughout the speech.

Motivation: I will try to motivate them by beginning with a wide example that I believe will get their attention and get them emotionally involved. Then, throughout the speech, I will try to relate my information to audience experiences.

Speech and Analysis

Read the following speech aloud. Then, analyze it on the basis of the primary criteria on the checklist in Figure 18.4: goal, reasons, support, organization, motivation, credibility, and ethics. This is an edited version of the speech as it was originally given. Listen to the speech as it was originally given and compare it with this revised version by clicking on Speech Interactive for Communicate! on your Communicate! CD-ROM.


At 10 PM on May 27th of last year, Heidi Jorgenson and her fiance, Doug, were driving home after a meeting with their priest at which they planned their upcoming wedding. Without warning, a 300-pound steel blade fell off a tractor-trailer coming toward them in the opposite lane and sheared off the top passenger side of Doug and Heidi’s car, killing Heidi instantly.

Later it was discovered that the trucker was driving illegally, for his company had failed to obtain an oversized-load permit. The driver and company were fined twenty-four hundred dollars. Twenty-four hundred dollars to taking a human life! Does that sound like justice? Probably not, but according to the U.S. News and World Report, September 13, 1999, the trucking industry has been blatantly breaking the law and getting away with it for years. Minimally enforced safety regulations and nearly nonexistent punishment of violators have caused heavy trucks to become by far the most dangerous vehicles on the road. Unsafe trucking is a growing problem that must be corrected before more people lose their lives. In addressing this issue we will examine the problem, show why it exists, and look at the solutions that must be enacted if we are to solve this problem. Let’s start with the point that trucking safety is a major problem. According to the U.S. News and World Report, there are about 75 million trucks traveling more than 160 trillion miles a year throughout the United Stares. According to the journal of Safely and Health, these trucks are involved in close to 250,000 crashes and 6,000 fatalities every year.

Let’s get a mental picture of what 6,000 fatalities really means. Take the total number of people here at this tournament (500), and multiply that by twelve. And while fatality rates for most types of vehicles have remained constant over the years, truck-related deaths have actually risen 20 percent since 1992, hear that-20 percent, according to the May 27, 1999, issue of Congress Daily.

So the question a reasonable person might ask, then, is “Why have trucks become so dangerous?” By taking a close look at the current system, we’ll see how the trucking industry practically invites tragedies like Heidi Jorgensen’s. My point? The trucking industry has some terrible safety habits. Worst of all is the widespread practice of making truckers drive and drive and drive until they are barely conscious. Jim Hall, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, says that 30 percent of all truck wrecks are actually  caused by driver fatigue. Numerous studies have shown that truckers routinely dust past the federal limit of 60 hours a week on the road. In fact, a study done last year the Department of Transportation shows that truckers are averaging 66 hours on the road behind the wheel and 75 hours if they don’t belong to a union. Can you imagine driving 75 hours a week? And that’s apparently still not enough because the American Trucking Association says that its top priority is to change the laws to allow truckers to stay on the road longer!

But in addition to staying on the road too much, most of the trucking industry is simply not bothering to use a multitude of new safety equipment that is available. The reason, according to the September 6th, 1999, Automotive News, is that trucking companies are skeptical about the costs and benefits of safety devices. To put it another way, trucking companies don’t feel that saving lives of people like you and me is enough of a “benefit” to justify spending money on safety equipment. Clearly it is the attitudes and policies of both our government and the
trucking industry that are causing these 6,000 deaths every year.

The good news is that solving this problem is a fairly straightforward process. Since we cannot rely on the trucking industry to regulate itself, our government needs to step in and start forcing trucking companies to clean up their acts. First of all, current legislation needs to be enforced a lot more strictly. No more 75-hour weeks for drivers! We also need to pass new legislation that would increase fines for safety violations and make it mandatory that truckers rest for 10 to 14 hours between hauls. Furthermore, it is imperative that trucking companies be required by law to install safety equipment in their vehicles. According to the Automotive News, for about an additional 15 percent of what
trucks currently cost, they can have new anti-rollover technology, more powerful disc brakes, a crash avoidance sensor system, and an onboard computerized data recorder that would prevent speedy drivers from falsifying their logbooks.

More importantly, we as individuals need to realize that we have a vested interest in making trucks safer. We all must support truck safety legislation. One thing you can do is lobby in favor of former President Clinton’s proposal to increase fines and make 10- to 14- hour rests between hauls mandatory. Another thing you can do that may have a direct impact on how safe the roads are for you is to take an active role in protecting yourself. Make sure to give those big trucks plenty of clearance. Don’t follow them too closely, and remember if you can’t see their mirrors, they can’t see you. These things will help make the roads safer for all of us. We have now taken a look at the problem of unsafe trucking. We have seen how both industry carelessness and government apathy have caused close to 6,000 deaths each year, and we have seen that there is a clear solution. Unsafe trucking is a growing problem, and it must be corrected before more people lose their lives. Heidi Jorgensen was supposed to have been married last October. Instead, she is in the ground. The trucking industry has been getting away with murder, and it is going to continue until we decide to put an end to it. I certainly hope you think that your life is worth more than 2,400 dollars.


Charone begins with an emotional anecdote designed to get attention and to arouse an emotional reaction from her audience. Notice the repetition to emphasize the injustice. Here and throughout the speech, she cites her sources for information. Here Charone states her goal and forecasts her main points. Good use of documented statistics. With this comparison Charone hopes to help the audience visualize the number. Again, through repetition, she emphasizes the percentage of the increase. Here she moves to her second point-why the problem exists. Charone does an excellent job of emphasizing the number of hours and dramatizing their inappropriateness. Notice how she vilifies the industry by they put cost ahead of lives.Here she moves on to tell us what needs to be done. Notice that in light of what she has said previously, none of these recommendations seem to be out of line. Here she emphasizes that the cost (a 15 percent increase) is not too much when the goal is saving lives. Charone involves the audience by showing that they can play an important role in solving the problem She enumerates specific behaviors that we can engage in to help solve the problem. She begins her conclusion by reviewing the reasons. She then returns to her opening anecdote to add power to her conclusion. Throughout the speech Charone blends logical information and emotional appeal quite well. This is a very good persuasive speech that follows the problem-solution pattern.

Summary Persuasive Speaking

Persuasive speeches are designed to establish or change a belief or motivate an audience to act. The principles governing persuasive speeches are similar to those presented for informative speeches, as are the steps of speech preparation . First, write a clear persuasive speech goal stating what you want your audience to believe or do. Second, analyze your audience’s interest and knowledge levels and attitude toward your goal. Third, build the body of the speech with good reasons, statements that answer why the proposition is justified. Support reasons with facts and expert expert opinion. Fourth, create an organization for the speech that suits your goal and your analysis of the audience. Four common organizational patterns for persuasive speeches are statement of logical reasons, problem-solution, comparative advantages, and motivational.

Fifth, motivate your audience by reworking language to appeal to the emotions, especially in your main points, introduction, and conclusion.
Sixth, use your credibility advantageously. Especially in persuasive speaking, one of the most important ways of building credibility is to behave in an ethical manner. Seventh, deliver the speech convincingly. Good delivery is especially important in persuasive speaking.