Persuasive Speeches and Propaganda


Learn from two of the characters in Animal Farm about how to use a speech to persuade people to do what you want!

Speeches can be a powerful tool to enable you to get what you want, whether it be volunteers to take part in a school event or crowds to support you as you take over control of a country! Have a look at the website below for more information about the different kinds of speeches, and particularly about persuasive speeches.

How is an effective speech made? What are the elements of a successful speech? Animal Farm has some prime examples of the power of language, used both for good and bad intent.

First, let’s focus on the speech of Old Major in Chapter 1. Read the speech in the document below and try to answer the questions.

Animal Farm Language Analysis Exercise (Old Major’s Speech)

That was a speech used for a positive ideological intent, similar – perhaps – to Martin Luther King’s vision of a USA without racial discrimination.

But there are also examples of the power of speech used in the services of misinformation and propaganda. Remember analyzing some of Squealer’s speeches previously? Below is the document we used.

Squealer Speech Analysis Instructions

Now, let’s look in detail at Squealer’s speech in Chapter 10.

Squealer’s Speech Analysis

What Squealer is doing – influencing what the animals beliefs and opinions (in this case, justifying something that is inherently unjustifiable) is called ‘propaganda’. Propaganda is all around us (advertising, for example, is pure propaganda) and is too large a topic to get into now. But, to imitate Squealer, we will need to understand a little about how it works.

Here are some common propaganda techniques. Which of these does Squealer use?

Propaganda Techniques

There are many example of great speeches and speakers. Here is a collection of some of them.

For a current example you could not do better than to listen to President Obama: whatever you may think about his policies, and however much or little you may believe him, you cannot deny that he is a powerful speaker. As an example, watch his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech from December 2009.

Barack H. Obama – Nobel Lecture

It’s a brilliantly written and presented argument explaining why he deserves a peace prize while fighting two wars!

Obama has often been compared to another great American speech-maker, Martin Luther King Jr. Have a look at this excerpt from his most famous speech.

Speech 1 Martin Luther King

When you have completed the worksheet – and only then! – look at the analysis below.


Here’s a less well-known speech. Compare it with the story-telling technique of Animal Farm.

Speech 2 The Story of Mouseland

So, to sum up, you need to…

  • Think carefully in the writing stages; this is where your speech comes together.
  • Make sure you have a strong main message to convince people of.

  • Standing in front of your audience gives you authority and, hopefully, extra confidence. Graphics can help, but are not essential.

  • Make efforts (eye contact, dramatic pauses, enunciation, stress and emphasis) to hold your audience’s attention.

Assessed Task

After all this theory, it’s time to try some practice! Use your knowledge of speech technique to make your own persuasive speech. Your work should include the following stages:

– Planning (think about theme and target audience)

– Writing (think about structure and language)

– Recording (think about voice, intonation, pausing and dramatic effect!)

When planning, use this organiser if it helps.

Persuasive Writing Organiser

Now that you’ve recorded your speech, you will need to perform it. Please focus on the following:

– Write your speech on cue cards

– Practise your speech independently until you know it very well

– Rehearse with a practice audience (classmate, sibling, your dog!)

– Use the recording to further polish your delivery (such as pacing, volume, pitch, pauses and emphasis)

– Include appropriate gestures to emphasise main points

You will have some class time in which to work on this. Keep watching Veracross for dates.

You will be assessed according to Criteria A, B and C.

Here is a checklist that you can use to assess your own speech, and those of others.

Speech Checklist


Remember, the best of your work will be published on the Purple Duck website. Speeches will appear in the ‘Other’ section of the Creative Writing area of the site. Click on the duck to find out more!

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