Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is not a new idea. It’s hard to pick up a basic public speaking textbook without finding an explication of it.
So why doesn’t it get used more? I suspect it’s because it isn’t new. But it still works.
For readers who are familiar with it: I want to tell you why you should give it a second look, and tell you where I see people having trouble applying it. For those who haven’t heard of it: I want to tell you about it, and help you avoid common pitfalls.
There is a bit of wisdom that sticks with me from childhood, from Ecclesiastes 4:12, that says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Even if you don’t do a lot of manual labor (I certainly don’t), you still know that a typical rope isn’t just a bunch of threads. It consists of fibers twisted into yarn, yarn twisted into strands, and strands twisted into lays. A typical rope consists of three lays.
That metaphor serves well in thinking about improving effective speaking. It takes competence in three areas woven together: effective delivery, effective organization for the ear, and effective content. Continue reading