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Monroe's Motivated Sequence Outline

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Monroe's Motivated Sequence Outline

What is Monroe's Motivated Sequence?

A simple definition:

“Monroe's Motivated Sequence” is a 5-step persuasive speech outline designed to move your audiences to take action.

As Alan Monroe himself put it:

Although individuals may vary to some extent, research has shown that most people seek consistency or balance among their cognitions. When confronted with a problem that disturbs their normal orientation, they look for a solution; when they feel a want or need, they search for a way to satisfy it. In short, when anything throws them into a condition of disorganization or dissonance, they are motivated to adjust their cognitions or values or to alter their behavior so as to achieve a new state of balance.

The method is effective for several reasons: it’s simple, it is based on universal cognitive processes and it gives you a clear structure to follow when you have to deliver persuasive speeches at work or other occasions.

In the following paragraphs let's take a closer look at Monroe's 5 steps:

  1. Get the attention
  2. Establish the Need
  3. Satisfy the Need
  4. Visualize the Consequences
  5. Call to Action
Office employee speaking to a group

#1: Get the Attention

More than 2000 years before Monroe, Aristotle lay down the basic pillars of a good persuasive speech. According to him, one of the primary values of a good speaker is ethos - or credibility.

You can establish credibility the following ways:

  1. You can point out your trustworthiness - Can you be trusted to tell the truth?

  2. Similarity to your listeners - Does your audience identify with you?

  3. Authority in the field - Are you an authority in the niche and topic?

  4. Reputation - How much expertise does your audience think you have in this field?

How to achieve this without being too pushy or self-assertive?

In a work related environment where your audiences know your profession and field of expertise, make sure to subtly hint at the fact that you’ve researched the topic thoroughly. Say something like:

While researching the topic, I came across a common problem among experts...

This will tell your listeners that they should listen in order to learn.

Next, you have to make sure you hold onto your audience's attention for the rest of your speech.

You can go about this several ways. I will use Ken Robinson’s 2006 TED talk to demonstrate some of the following steps.

First of all, provide a strong argument for why your topic is important for your listeners.

So I have a big interest in education, and I think we all do. We have a huge vested interest in it, partly because it's education that's meant to take us into this future that we can't grasp.

You can also startle them with a controversial statement.

And my contention is, all kids have tremendous talents. And we squander them, pretty ruthlessly.

Make them curious about the topic and build up suspense.

If you think of it, children starting school this year will be retiring in 2065. Nobody has a clue, despite all the expertise that's been on parade for the past four days, what the world will look like in five years' time.

You can also start with a witty quotation from someone famous.

As Churchill once noted, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts."

Use an anecdote.

I heard a great story recently -- I love telling it -- of a little girl who was in a drawing lesson. She was six, and she was at the back, drawing, and the teacher said this girl hardly ever paid attention, and in this drawing lesson, she did. The teacher was fascinated. She went over to her, and she said, "What are you drawing?" And the girl said, "I'm drawing a picture of God." And the teacher said, "But nobody knows what God looks like." And the girl said, "They will, in a minute.”

Pose a rhetorical question and make them think.

Why do you think this topic is so pressing right now?

And finally show videos, photos, illustrations or other visual aids to grab attention.

#2: Establish the Need

The next step is to explain the problem. Make sure your listeners feel the urgency of the need but don’t exaggerate, keep it relatable.

So I want to talk about education and I want to talk about creativity. My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.

You can offer statistical data to stress the urgency.

In the next 30 years, according to UNESCO, more people worldwide will be graduating through education than since the beginning of history.

It’s also helpful to share testimonials from people directly affected by the problem:

So, this oak-paneled room, and she was there with her mother, and she was led and sat on this chair at the end, and she sat on her hands for 20 minutes while this man talked to her mother about the problems Gillian was having at school.Because she was disturbing people; her homework was always late; and so on, little kid of eight. In the end, the doctor went and sat next to Gillian, and said, "I've listened to all these things your mother's told me, I need to speak to her privately. Wait here. We'll be back; we won't be very long," and they went and left her.

But as they went out of the room, he turned on the radio that was sitting on his desk. And when they got out, he said to her mother, "Just stand and watch her." And the minute they left the room, she was on her feet, moving to the music. And they watched for a few minutes and he turned to her mother and said, "Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn't sick; she's a dancer. Take her to a dance school.

I said, "What happened?" She said, "She did. I can't tell you how wonderful it was. We walked in this room and it was full of people like me. People who couldn't sit still. People who had to move to think.

But as they went out of the room, he turned on the radio that was sitting on his desk. And when they got out, he said to her mother, "Just stand and watch her." And the minute they left the room, she was on her feet, moving to the music. And they watched for a few minutes and he turned to her mother and said, "Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn't sick; she's a dancer. Take her to a dance school.

You should also find ways to demonstrate the direct or indirect ways this problem affects your audiences, or what will the consequences be of not acting on it.

What we do know is, if you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original -- if you're not prepared to be wrong. And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies like this. We stigmatize mistakes. And we're now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. And the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities.

#3: Satisfy the Need

Next, you will have to offer a solution to the problem. Present your plan to your listeners as the only viable way to solve the issue at hand. You must offer clear and concise steps on how to overcome the need, solve the problem or grab the opportunity.

And the only way we'll do it is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are and seeing our children for the hope that they are. And our task is to educate their whole being, so they can face this future.

Demonstrate your thesis with examples and show how it logically comes from the problem.

Use charts, figures, and real-life examples to support your plan. Your audiences must fully understand your proposal by the end of this section, find it feasible and start wondering about how this will work out for them.

#4: Visualize the Consequences

In this part of your speech, you have to visualize the consequences of your proposal. You can either show how everything will be better after your plan has been adopted and/or show how everything will be worse if your plan fails.

You can also combine the two and show the negative effects of not acting first and then describe a positive scenario where your solution has saved the day.

Your visualization must be realistic and vivid.

I believe our only hope for the future is to adopt a new conception of human ecology, one in which we start to reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity. Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth: for a particular commodity. And for the future, it won't serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we're educating our children.

Keep in mind - you almost have to make these consequences tangible to your audiences. They have to see and feel that implementing your solution is the only way to a brighter future and not implementing it means they're doomed.

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#5: Call to Action

The action step must be concise and clear. Offer your audiences the step-by-step recipe to implementing your solution. It has to be easy and actionable. Tell them exactly how they should help you or what are the things they HAVE to do right away to solve the problem.

  1. Summarize your proposal. Call to immediate action - provide specific steps and examples if possible.

What TED celebrates is the gift of the human imagination. We have to be careful now that we use this gift wisely and that we avert some of the scenarios that we've talked about. And the only way we'll do it is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are and seeing our children for the hope that they are. And our task is to educate their whole being, so they can face this future. By the way -- we may not see this future, but they will. And our job is to help them make something of it.

  1. Close your speech in a memorable way: compliment your audience, deliver a punchline or share a shocking information or quote that suggests urgency.

There was a wonderful quote by Jonas Salk, who said, "If all the insects were to disappear from the Earth, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish." And he's right.

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