Speech Smarts

Opening and Closing Arguments

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What did you say? Nothing! And so another argument begins. You argue to be heard. You argue to persuade. You argue to win. Arguments show what’s right and end only when someone admits their wrong or quits arguing. As a speaker you have to stand up and argue for what you believe, what you know and why it matters, without being argumentative. The three keys to presenting your arguments are noble motives, logical flexibility, and emotional moderation.

Heated arguments are emotionally intense. Often you find yourself screaming at the top of your lungs, painfully unaware of what you are saying. While you may believe you need to get it all out, it is doubtful anyone is taking it in. They are either aggressively defending or cowering resentfully during your outburst. Okay. Yelling isn’t the most respectful way to communicate, but what does this have to do with speaking in public? Everything. Giving your presentation without respecting your audience’s perspective is kinda like yelling “Hey you better look at this my way.” Consider your audience’s emotional logic and moderate your expressions so your argument feels sensible.

A logical argument is not always the most logical thing to use. Arguments are your ideally reasons, logically organized to persuade others, you are right. However, cool reason is no match for the impassioned reaction to being told, point by point, how wrong you are. Far too many arguments fail to focus on what could make things right, concentrating, instead on who’s right. Use logic as a guide to decide what to say then, hide it within your stories and power points to empower your arguments.

You do not have to accept every invitation to an argument you receive. You can learn to disagree without being disagreeable. Often it is simply not worth the time and energy to argue. However, when something is worth fighting for, it deserves your time and energy. A noble argument acknowledges other’s perspectives, even admitting when they are right. These presentations explain the speaker’s position in terms of the benefits to the opponent. It is an argument that invites your listeners to look beyond what is right for them and resolve to find what is right for us.

You don’t have to step on someone’s toes to stand up for yourself. Using immoderate emotional tactics, or lifeless logical proofs, are the hallmarks of disrespectful and disconnected arguments. When you argue for coming together as one instead of who won; when you listen, instead of yelling; when your persuasion points beyond your personal interest, what you say leaves nothing to argue about.

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About the Author:

David Nemitz has designed and delivered over 10,000 sales presentations, professional development programs and executive coaching sessions for corporations and governmental organizations such as the US State Department, The French Consulate, and American Express. When he is not helping others define and refine their strengths, you can find him watching the sun set over The Magic City or strolling through The City of Light where he lives with his wife Ninette.