Students face many challenges while at school and for that reason they need constant motivation. Even the brightest ones need motivation too – that’s why reinforcement is necessary in teaching.

I believe most of people who have accomplished their academic journey would admit that it wasn’t a smooth ride – there are mountains to go through and there were times when we wished to drop out of school but somehow, because of hope and encouragement we got from those who care about us, we managed to accomplish our academic dreams.

When it comes to inspiring students, most speakers dwell on providing success stories from famous rich people and inspirational quotes – or speaking of their own success at the time being. I am not saying they are wrong, in fact, it is a good way of motivating students since they are also aspiring to be successful in the future and so by giving them success stories help them determine their dreams and find a role model for the kind of success they want.

Common strategies public speakers use

  • Motivation from success stories
  • Motivational quotes

But, there is one important aspect which is mostly left behind when inspiring students; speakers tend to neglect stories of difficulties and failures that are experienced by students at school – speakers put much focus on success stories only.

Students, and other people of course, like success stories but it is from those deep, emotional personal stories of difficulties and failures that resonate in their minds. Do you remember the famous speech of Michelle Obama that gave Obama the second presidential term? Of course, you remember it – how could you forget such a powerful emotional speech of human experience! After that speech, Americans loved the Obamas even more – their life story resembles that of majority Americans – humble beginnings, middle family life, student loan debts, college affairs.

People like success stories but they are mostly intrigued by personal stories of failures and difficulties a particular person or a speaker has experienced. This is because, through your story, they can relate to you — you never know by the time you’re speaking, someone is struggling with some issues and your testimony of failure will make more sense to them than your success story. They can relate their current situations with the ones you experienced – they can see that you’re one of them, not just a motivational speaker coming from nowhere shouting success stories to students – make sure that they know your story first and be honest with it.

Presentation hints

  • Talk about your personal experiences during school life
  • Tell them about difficulties you faced and how you overcome them
  • Admit your failures

So, when you’re talking to students to inspire them whether you’re a teacher or a public speaker, don’t shy away to tell them that you had difficulties in math or physics but you kept on trying never the less. Don’t brag too much on how good you were in a certain subject – because they may think you are showing off and they’ll lose interest. Your motivation story should focus on the majority – the average performers, low performers and those who face other difficulties at school. By doing so, you will build trust and make friends from students – and they will feel comfortable consulting you for their personal problems.

How to make a powerful convincing speech?

You will need to learn the modes of persuasion. Suggested by Aristotle, there are three means of persuading an audience to agree with your point of view. They are means of persuading others to believe a particular point of view. All of the famous speeches like Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream were created in regards of the three modes of persuasion.

  • Ethos
  • Pathos
  • Logos

Meaning and examples of Ethos, Pathos and Logos

Ethos (sometimes referred to as an appeal to ethics), then, is used as a means of convincing an audience via the authority or credibility of the persuader, be it a notable or experienced figure in the field or even a popular celebrity.


  • “You know me – I’ve taught Sunday School at your church for years, babysat your children, and served as a playground director for many summers – so you know I can run your preschool.”
  • “As a doctor, I am qualified to tell you that this course of treatment will likely generate the best results.”

Pathos (appeal to emotion) is a way of convincing an audience by creating an emotional response to an impassioned plea or a convincing story.


  • “They’ve worked against everything we’ve worked so hard to build, and they don’t care who gets hurt in the process. Make no mistake, they’re the enemy, and they won’t stop until we’re all destroyed.”
  • “If we don’t move soon, we’re all going to die! Can’t you see how dangerous it would be to stay?”

Logos (appeal to logic) is a way of persuading an audience with reason – using facts and figures.


  • “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: we have not only the fingerprints, the lack of an alibi, a clear motive, and an expressed desire to commit the robbery… We also have video of the suspect breaking in. The case could not be more open and shut.”
  • “The data is perfectly clear: this investment has consistently turned a profit year-over-year, even in spite of market declines in other areas.”

Understanding the different aspects of rhetoric (means of convincing) will make you more aware of what goes into creating a powerful persuasive argument. The examples above should also help you construct your own arguments or appeals. You may need to read more on Aristotle’s aspects of rhetoric online.