Method Manifesto
Manifesto is a method that provides students with the opportunity to recognise and analyse common persuasive strategies in written and oral form and to apply more effectively persuasive strategies to influence audience members’ beliefs, attitudes, and values.

This is a method to bring about change, to forge a body of learning, and a document that shapes the way changes are to be made from the resources at hand.

Persuasive strategies have been applied in marketing, communication, education, health and other domains and are found to be quite effective in changing people’s attitude and behaviours.

Aim To enhance critical thinking and communicative skills, specifically the ability to create information and communicate it effectively.
Target group Students of all courses and all study fields.

Suitable for small and large groups.

Intended learning outcomes
  • ability to recognise common persuasive strategies;
  • enhanced ability to articulate different persuasive strategies and the significance of these differences for changing another’s thoughts or actions;
  • skill in more effectively applying persuasive strategies to influence audience members’ beliefs, attitudes, and values;
  • improved critical thinking and communicative skills.
Have your students listen to or read examples of a manifesto, e.g., The Communist Manifesto, The Declaration of Independence, Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech”.

Now work with them to analyse phrases and techniques that helped the writer persuade the listener, using following techniques: Word Cloud (visualisation of the most frequently occurring words in the Manifesto); Frequency Analysis (to understand the proportion of words in the manifesto); Network of words (useful for identifying clusters of words which are more related to one another).

Then discuss and define ways that are used to persuade people.

Then have your students identify – alone or in groups –  at least one example of how the speaker/writer uses positive motivation, negative motivation, appeals to safety needs, to social needs and how the speaker/writer utilises cognitive dissonance.

Now have your students imagine that there is a need to deliver a persuasive speech to prospective students considering attending your university/college. What could they say that would appeal to their safety needs? Their social needs? Their self-esteem needs?

Students should then be invited in groups to create a manifesto to announce new and radical intentions using the “CATTt” method[i]. This requires them to create multi-level arguments. This is achieved through five progressions.

C = Contrast (opposition, inversion, differentiation)

A= Analogy (figuration, displacement)

T= Theory (repetition, literalization)

T= Target (application, purpose)

t= tale (secondary elaboration, representability)

Preparation Not necessary.
Resources and equipment The video, audio and/or transcripts/texts of speeches, declarations, Manifestos etc.
Success factors Adopting this approach requires an ability on the part of the student to conduct research in order to develop a topic.
Advantages Taking this approach, students will be better able to investigate alternative viewpoints, evaluate various perspectives, learn about potential bias
Disadvantages This approach may be overly time consuming and it may be difficult to bring all group members together in agreement.
Additional information A detailed description of the CATTt method is available here.

Here are some useful resources:

[i] Ulmer, G. L. (1994). Heuretics: The Logic of Invention. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Download PDF file:

Manifesto (19 downloads)
Do you enjoy this method?