Monroe’s Motivated Sequence: Messages with Massive Impact

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence outlines principles of speech you can use anytime you need to move an audience to act. This powerful communication formula is easy to understand and gives you a template for creating powerful messages.

Alan Monroe was a psychology professor at Purdue University. He used the psychology of persuasion to develop an outline for speeches that deliver results. His book Monroe’s Principles of Speech describes this in detail.

This time-tested method helps you craft messages for maximum impact. If you need to craft a persuasive speech or move an audience to act, Monroe’s Motivated Sequence gives you the formula.

If you need to move an audience to act, Monroe’s Motivated Sequence gives you a clear guide to crafting messages that influence and inspire.

The Steps to Monroe’s Motivated Sequence

There are five steps that make up the formula to create powerful messages that move your audience to act:

  1. Get attention
  2. Establish need
  3. Satisfy the need
  4. Visualize the future
  5. Call to action

Read on to dive deeper into each of the steps.

For the best results, focus on your audience and what will motivate them. Their desires may differ from yours. Focus on what is important to them.

1. Get Attention

The first thing you must do is get your audience’s attention. The attention step helps pull your audience to you. You can do this in multiple ways.

  • Tell a story. Stories capture your audience’s curiosity.
  • Use a visual aid. Jill Bolte Taylor used a human brain in her wildly popular Ted Talk.
  • Pose a question (maybe rhetorical). Asking a question gets your audience to stop and think.
  • Use a shocking statistic.
  • Share a powerful quote.
  • Make a shocking statement.

2. Establish Need

Once you have your audience’s attention, they need to believe that something needs to change. They need to believe that the current situation is unacceptable and negatively impacts them. You need to make your audience uncomfortable. This prepares them to be more receptive to the solutions and actions you’ll present.

  • Clearly state or describe the need or problem. Make it clear and easy to grasp. Don’t make your audience have to work to understand it.
  • Give examples to illustrate so that your audience more strongly believes you and experiences feelings about the situation.
  • Add statistics or additional stories to strengthen the impact and also show how the need directly impacts your listeners.

3. Satisfy the Need

Propose the solution. Your audience is now experiencing anxiety or negative emotions about the need. They’re ready and open to hearing ways to avoid the pain or fix the problem. You’ll be able to give them a solution that they’ll be eager and open to trying – especially if you understand what motivates them.

  • Propose the solution, and what you want your audience to do.
  • Provide more detail to help them better understand what you want from them.
  • Explain how it solves the problem.
  • If possible, give examples of how this solution has worked elsewhere. 

4. Visualize the Future or Consequences

Your visualization step helps reinforce the emotion that you’ve been building. Now that you’ve presented a solution, help your listeners see what life will be like if they carry out your plan. This step reinforces their desire for change and action. Use imagery so they can see how impactful the change will be. Be visual and descriptive. This will motivate your audience to want to take action.

You can take different approaches. Determine which fits your situation or audience better:

  • Negative Method: Create a negative image. Paint a negative picture of how terrible life will be if things don’t change. Explain the negative path you’re on. Share how much worse things could get if nothing changes.
  • Positive Method: Create a positive image. Describe how much easier and better things could be if your audienceadopted your solution and made a change. Describe the new and easier situation in ways that your audience can feel the change and lean into having that positive change.
  • Compare and contrast negative and positive. Paint a picture of how terrible things will be if nothing changes. Then paint a picture of how much better life will be if the group makes a change and adopts your solution.

5. Call to Action

Now that you’ve primed and motivated your audience, tell them what to do. This action step where you actually tell your listeners what you want them to do. This is the activity you’ve been building up to.

  • Explain or list actions they can take. 
  • Give instructions if needed on how to carry out the activities.
  • Provide examples, templates, or help that can help make taking action easier for them.
  • If helpful, end with a summary or motivational statement to further inspire action.

Words are powerful when you know how to use them. You can move people and drive positive change.

How is Monroe’s Motivated Sequence effective?

paraverbal communication

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence works because people want to feel good. People respond emotionally. If you connect with someone, he or she wants to hear more from you.

If you want to change someone’s behavior, use persuasion skills that rely on emotion. 

These concise steps make it easy to craft your persuasive message. You’ll have a better chance at moving your audience into action.

How to best apply Monroe’s principles?

Monroe's Motivted Sequence-speaker presenting to audience

Here are some tips to help you put Monroe’s principles into practice:

  • Know your audience. What motivates them? How does their life compare to yours? Do they like sports? Politics? Religion? Music? Movies? Whatever it is, know how to speak to them.
  • Be clear. Get clear on your basic idea and the central idea you want to share. Make sure you understand exactly what you need to say before you begin talking. Don’t wing it!
  • Use stories. People remember stories much easier than facts. Tell one story after another until you’ve covered all aspects of your topic.
  • Speak slowly. Slow down when necessary so listeners can absorb information easily.
  • Avoid jargon. Don’t use jargon that your audience doesn’t understand or relate to.
  • Listen carefully. Pay close attention to the language your target audience uses and what motivates them.
  • Ask questions. Questions make people talk. Find out what interests them most by asking open-ended questions.
  • Give examples. Showing something helps people visualize it. Examples give meaning to abstract concepts.
  • End strong. Leave your speech with a powerful conclusion.


The Monroe Motivated Sequence is an easy yet effective formula for creating a message that moves people. To craft a persuasive argument, think about what you want to change, what motivates your audience, and how you want them to act. You can use this formula to craft powerful speeches and messages to drive change.

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