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Monroe’s Motivated Sequence: 5 Steps to Persuasive Speech

Arthur Worsley
by Arthur Worsley
M.A. Psychology, Oxford. McKinsey Alum. Founder & Editor at TAoL..

Looking for a quick practical guide to Monroe’s Motivated Sequence?

Want a simple 5-step process to inspire action?

You’re in the right place!

Here’s what you’ll find on this page…

Writing Persuasive Copy Is Hard.

We’ve all been there. You’ve got an important email, speech or blog post to deliver but…

You can’t think of anything to say.

You find yourself staring at an empty screen while you try and find the right words to convince others to stop, think and take action.

Or maybe you struggle with the opposite; you say too much.

There’s so much to say about your cause, product or service that you end up going off on a tangent. Which confuses and dilutes your true message.

Both outcomes are clearly undesirable.

But the good news is, whichever position you’ve been in, you’re not alone.

And luckily…

There’s a Simple 5-Step Process That Can Help.

So, what’s the solution?

Well, you should never settle for sub-par content.

And fortunately, you don’t have to.

Why? Because Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is a time-tested sequence of steps ANYONE can use to write persuasive and actionable copy.

And in this guide I’m going to show you everything you need to put each of the 5 steps into action.

Read on for the secret step-by-step formula mastered by the very best public speakers and copywriters of all time to craft content that can’t be refused…

So, What is Monroe’s Motivated Sequence?

Let’s start with the basics and explain what Monroe’s Motivated Sequence actually is.

(After all, if you have never heard of it before, you may feel a little perplexed.)

Monroe’s Sequence is a 5-step communication framework that was created in the mid-1930s at Purdue University by professor and psychologist, Alan H. Monroe.

It uses a 5-step organizational pattern to create persuasive speeches…

The 5 Steps of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence.

The 5 Steps of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence are:

  1. Attention – Hook the listener with an attention getter;
  2. Need – Make the audience feel a need;
  3. Satisfaction – Give them a solution to satisfy it;
  4. Visualization – Help them picture the rewards of taking ; and
  5. Action – Give them specific action steps to follow.

Monroe first shared his sequence in his book Principles of Speech Communication in which he outlined his research and theories on persuasive speech in public speaking.

Here’s what he had to say about what drives people’s choices:

“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 a need, they search for a way to satisfy it. In short, when anything throws them into a condition of disorganization and dissonance, they are motivated to adjust their cognitions or values or to alter their behavior so as to achieve a new state of balance.”

Confused? I don’t blame you.

Fortunately, Monroe condensed his ideas into a simple 5-step formula for communicating clearly and persuasively.

What Are the Benefits of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence?

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence will make sure your speeches and copy are interesting, persuasive and actionable.

Think about listening to the news. It’s compelling and emotional, but it leaves you feeling hopeless and powerless.

The difference with Monroe’s Motivated Sequence? It helps you craft messages that help  your audience feel like they WANT, CAN and know HOW to take action.

It leaves your them feeling listened to, inspired and empowered.

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence: A Step-By-Step Guide

Now that you know what Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is and how it can help, let’s go through its five parts step-by-step.

Step 1: Get Attention.

The attention step is all about grabbing your audience’s attention.

After all, It doesn’t matter how good the main points of your argument are if you’ve lost people’s attention at the start.

Fortunately, there are many ways to get your audience members to sit up and take notice.

Some time-tested favorites include:

  • shocking statistic – “Did you know that 69% of children aged 2-5 can use a computer mouse, but only 11% can tie their shoelaces?“;
  • A thoughtful/Yes question – “Looking for a quick practical guide to Monroe’s Motivated Sequence?“;
  • Humor – “Of all the introductions I’ve received, that was by far the most recent.“; and/or
  • Storytelling – “The air turned black all around me.” (Always start stories in the middle!)

Think carefully about your audience when deciding on your opening thoughts. Who are you trying to reach? What will appeal to them the most?

Follow up with a quick introduction.

Then move on to…

Step 2: Establish the Need.

Once you’ve grabbed your audience’s attention, you now need to convince them that the issue you’re talking about is important.

Use clear statements that to make your audience feel that the status quo simply isn’t good enough. It’s essential that changes be made.

How to Establish Need Effectively

There are a number of things that you can do to establish the need.

For example:

  • Use statistics to back up the statements you make;
  • Talk about the consequences of keeping things the same if you don’t make any changes;
  • Help your audience to see how the problem is something that directly and specifically impacts them (otherwise, they may assume that the issue is someone else’s!)

Hold off on providing solutions.

Instead, make the user feel restless and uncomfortable enough to feel convinced that they need to make changes.

As above: Make sure you’re appealing directly to your target audience’s specific needs. Use figures and references to show exactly how the issue affects them and the things they care about.

Once you’ve got their attention and established the need to take action it’s time to…

Step 3: Satisfy the Need.

The third step of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is satisfaction.

Now is the time to introduce your solution to the problem you’ve established.

How is your solution going to solve the issue that your audience so desperately needs to be addressed? This is the chief reason for your presentation, and will differ considerably depending on your purpose.

What Can You Do to Satisfy Your Audience’s Needs?

Here are a few different points that will help you position your solution as the best way to satisfy your audience.

  • First, start with facts. People don’t want vague content. They want the hard facts and figures. Give them what they want.
  • Second, elaborate on your solution – Give the audience enough detail to understand your position and what your solution will achieve.
  • Third, hold their hands. Don’t be afraid to state clearly what you want your audience to believe or to do.
  • Fourthrecap regularly. Summarise your information from time-to-time so that you reiterate your position and keep everyone on the same track.
  • Fifth, give them evidence. Prove the effectiveness of your solution using statistics, testimonials, and examples.
  • Finally, prepare counter arguments. Address common objections proactively as your audience is likely to be thinking about them.

Keep It Simple and Clear

Step 3 of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is the easiest part to get sidetracked or stuck in.

The solution itself may be complex, but your content should not be. The information you provide must be straightforward. At the same time, you will want to include as much detail as you can. Don’t assume that something is obvious; state it.

When crafting your speech or post, we always recommend that you assume that your audience has no idea at all of how they should go about addressing the problem in question. This will make sure that you do not leave out any important information.

Step 4: Visualize the Future.

The fourth step of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is the visualization step.

What will the situation look like if the audience decides to take action?

What if they don’t use your solution to satisfy the need you’ve established?

DO: Be detailed and realistic.

DON’T: overpromise or exaggerate.

The goal here is to win over your audience. You want them to feel encouraged and motivated without losing your hard earned credibility.

The 3 Methods You Can Use to Share Your Vision

There are three methods you can use to share your future vision with your audience.

These are:

  1. The Negative Method – The first approach involves describing what the situation is going to look like if your recommendations aren’t adopted by your audience. Focus on the difficulties or dangers of lack of action.
  2. The Positive Method – The second approach is about describing what the situation will be like if your recommendations are taken on board. Focus on the positive aspects here.
  3. The Contrast Method – The third option is to contrast both options to create an even bigger gap between the benefits of your audience taking action.

Step 5: Call Them to Action.

The final step is to get your audience a clear call to action!

DON’T overwhelm them with action plans.

DO leave them with a handful of specific steps that they can take to move forward.

Show them where to find more information. Or lead them through the exact steps they need to donate or place an order.

Be clear and specific about the exact steps they can take. Spell it out.

Make it urgent.

You want your audience to act now, before life gets in the way.

Final Words on Monroe’s Motivated Sequence.

So there you have it: everything you need to know about using Monroe’s Motivated Sequence to create compelling content that encourages people to take action.

From encouraging sales to getting more people to sign up to your newsletter or support an important charitable cause, Monroe’s Motivated Sequence can help you to unlock the true power of your message.

Arthur Worsley
I founded TAoL to discover and share the best wisdom on how to live long and prosper. Before that I studied Psychology, Philosophy & Physiology at Oxford and consulted at McKinsey. Still curious? Learn more or take my FREE productivity quiz.

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