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Can Monroe’s Motivated Sequence Help with More Than Just Speech Writing?

Table of Contents

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is a framework for writing speeches that dates back nearly a century. Developed in the 1930s by Purdue University psychologist Alan Monroe, Monroe’s Motivated Sequence suggests a five-step structure for speeches designed to persuade audiences to take an intended action.

Even better, it’s not just for speeches. In fact, one of our favorite things about Monroe’s Motivated Sequence isn’t that we think it’s inherently better than other approaches to organizing spoken or written content, but that it provides an accessible framework for getting started with a writing project. There are few things more intimidating than a blank page, even for a professional writer, and Monroe’s Motivated Sequence offers a step-by-step approach to building out persuasive, effective content.

Here are the five steps of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence:

1: AttentionThe first priority is to grab the audience’s attention. Some effective ways to do this are to use a story, a statistic, or an engaging question. Before you start writing your speech, presentation, or other content, think about the type of audience that you’re going to address and what kinds of attention grabbers will work best for them.

2: Need (Statement of the Problem)Once we’ve gained the audience’s attention, we need to describe the issue to them by defining the cause of the problem and how it affects them. You can also try to explain how people separate from the audience are also affected by the issue and how they are harmed or left wanting.

3: Satisfaction (Statement of the Solution)Here, the speaker or writer states, explains, and potentially demonstrates the solution. This section should offer a step-by-step plan that can resolve the need. Ensure to include as much detail as possible so that your audience can understand the solution.

4: VisualizationOnce you’ve described the solution, help the audience to understand—or visualize—how it will improve their lives. Focus on the benefits. What advantages or desirable experiences will the audience gain from the solution? Note that visualization here doesn’t necessarily mean “visual aid” (you should strive to paint a vibrant picture with your words), but it’s true that some companion visuals can help the audience get excited.

5: Call to ActionThe last part of Monroe’s Motivated sequence is to urge your audience to take immediate action and fix the problem. This should be the last thing that they hear in your speech, and by this point, they should be eager to know what they can do to make a difference.

Does Monroe’s Motivated Sequence Really Work? 

That depends on what you mean by “work.” As famous as the methodology is, there’s scant research into it, and what little research has been done doesn’t seem to indicate audiences find it more persuasive than other approaches (such as problem-cause-solution or comparative-advantage approaches). Our recommendation isn’t to expect miracles from Monroe’s Motivated Sequence, but instead to use it when you’re not sure how else to construct a compelling piece of writing and could use a helpful framework to get started.

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Can Monroe’s Motivated Sequence Help with More Than Just Speech Writing?

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(503 Reviews)