How to Use Monroe’s Motivated Sequence for Speeches

How to Use Monroe’s Motivated Sequence for Speeches

Some people seem to be born with a gift for delivering great speeches. Think late Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King or most TED speakers you see performing on stage. But a natural talent for persuasion and public speaking are not the only prerequisites for making a grand speech. Good texts play an essential role. And you can learn how to craft these using Monroe’s motivated sequence.

What is Monroe’s Motivated Sequence?

It was the mid-1930’s. Alan Monroe, who began his teaching career as an English professor at Purdue University, decided to deliver a new speech course to the students.

Soon his experimental speech became so popular that it was the largest one in the country. During this time, he designed what came to be known as Monroe’s Motivated Sequence – a blueprint for crafting a speech that helps the presenter motivate or persuade an audience to take immediate action.

Thus, the Monroe sequence is, above all, a methodology – a tool that anyone should use if they are attempting to convince an audience that a belief or action is the correct one and to garner enthusiasm for the promoted cause. In sum, it is the goal of the speaker to determine what an audience wants or needs, to provide solutions to those, and then to persuade that audience that his solutions are the right ones.

Who Can Make use of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence and in What Environments is It the Most Useful?

The quick answer is that Monroe’s motivated sequence will come handy for anyone who must convince others that their lives will be better and their specific wants and needs can be satisfied.

Given the wide range of use, the following people should be using this model:

  • Business owners and managers who are bringing change to an organization and its staff and need to improve employee engagement, motivation or show employee appreciation.
  • Marketers who are presenting products or services, either online via podcasts, or offline face-to-face, in order to convince potential customers that some need or want can be satisfied by a purchase.
  • B2B salespeople who must make a presentation to a small group of decision-makers in another organization.
  • Students who have been assigned a persuasive speech in a communications course.
  • Politicians who are giving a speech to an audience of voters.

And that’s the beauty of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence. It is a universal method of persuasion! Now let’s take a closer look at how to use this model.

The Five Steps of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence

Monroe outlined five specific steps you need to tackle in your persuasive speech outline:

  1. Capture the audience’s attention
  2. Get the audience to feel a need or a want
  3. Inform them of how to fill that need or want with your solution
  4. Identify and describe the benefits of your solution
  5. Convince the audience to take action on your solution

Obviously, this is a very simplistic picture, so let’s look at each of these steps in more detail, with real-world examples.

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence Example

Let’s say, a director of a large customer service department has decided to introduce a new customer relations management software package to the department. He knows that this new software will make the entire team more efficient, lean and be of great value to those who “man” those phone lines, answer emails, or engage in live chat with customers.

However, his team (as most do) isn’t as excited about the proposed change. They are resisting the new tech adoption. Thus, the director needs to give a quick “pep talk” and rally the stakeholders (CS team members) to be as excited as he is.

In essence, he is preparing a persuasive speech here. So the five-step sequence will work in the following manner:

Step 1: Gain Attention

There are several ways to effectively open your speech. For instance, you can address “the elephant in the room” and ask your audience to agree or disagree with a big statement you are making.

In the case with our example, you can ask the CS team to raise their hand if you had to:

  • Answer the same question for multiple questions every day.
  • Take a call from an irate customer who has been on hold for way too long.
  • Put a customer on hold to go back into the system and find previous interactions with that customer.

Alternatively, you can use a physiological hook to make people pay more attention. A hook is an unexpected statement, sentiment or action made by the presenter.

For instance, you can:

  • Make a provocative statement: “If nothing changes, we’ll have to extend your shifts to 12 hours per day”.
  • Share a bold, shocking figure: “On average, you have to deal with 30,000 incoming customer queries per month. What if we can slice that number in half?”

Step 2: Clarify The Need

It’s now time to establish a want or a need and to build a feeling on the part of customer service agents that they want or need something that will ease their tasks and stress.

After a strong opening, you should bring home the fact that members of the audience want and/or need relief and a better system. This is the point at which the speaker identifies the need/want, and provides examples of that need/want.

For instance, you can paint specific scenarios of what would ease agents’ “lives” post-adoption:

  • Not having to answer the same questions over and over again
  • Having the history of all interactions with a customer on a screen in front of them
  • Reducing the time that customers have to wait on hold.

The goal here is to concentrate on the present state of affairs and seed a spark of anticipation for future outcomes. At the end of this section, your audience should be saying to themselves, “Yes, I would love to have that” or “yes, I need that.”

Step 3: Pitch a Solution

The next is to provide a viable solution that will satisfy the previously manifested need.

Based on our example, now is a good time to introduce new CRM software as an actionable solution to the audience’s “pain points”.

Specifically, when you provide a solution, you should:

  • Provide a walkthrough of how it will work and what issues and inefficiencies it will solve.
  • Use relatable examples, visualizations, and diagrams to build up your point.
  • Also, provide statistics and data to support how the proposed solution has helped others. This is the “evidence” that the audience must see and believe.

As a speaker, you also need to identify all possible objections and have a plan to address them, before anyone in the audience actually brings them up.

Step 4: Summarize the Benefits

At this point, you should maintain the core focus on the benefits and future outcomes. To do that effectively, you can:

  • Explain that without any action, the audience’s issues will remain unresolved and cause future problems.
  • Address what the anticipated solution can deliver.
  • Use specific examples to contrast the now vs post-adoption.

Step 5: Call to Action

Call to action is your “rally to arms”. It should be a powerful but brief statement that shows your enthusiasm for the “bright future ahead”.

Rather than take questions from the floor, have an informal gathering afterward, so that you can reinforce the points and answer any questions on an individual and personal level.

More General Tips for Using Monroe’s Motivated Sequence

Once you have your outline in place, you will be ready to actually write the speech, or at least add enough detail so that you know exactly how you are going to say what you want. This is an individual matter. Seasoned speakers may be able to work from an outline. Newbies may need to write the entire speech out and read it over and over until they almost know it by heart. You know what works best for you.

Review the speech to be certain that you have not been too repetitive. In Monroe’s Motivated Sequence example above, the attention-getting introduction touches on the pain points that customer service agents typically have. They have repeated again when the benefits section is presented. They should not be repeated any other time – belaboring points can become irritating to an audience.

Don’t skip any of the five steps. This framework is “tried and true” and proven. If you skip a step in the sequence, you will not bring your audience along correctly, and your chances of getting agreement on your call to action are not good.

Whatever you call to action might be, it has to be actionable. It has to be something audience members can actually do. Before you propose a solution to their wants/needs, ask important questions. Can they afford this? Do they have the time to do this? Do they have the resources to do it? In the example above, the resources will be the software itself and then the training involved. The organization will provide these resources. In other instances, it may be up to the individual to take the time and find the resources.

Use visuals whenever possible to provide supportive evidence. People absorb and retain what they see far better than what they hear or read.

To Conclude

As you can see, Monroe’s motivated sequence outline helps a presenter to prepare a persuasive speech in a clear, logical way that has the best chance of getting audiences on board and ready to take action. So go on and try writing your first speech using this model!

Photo by Miguel Henriques

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