While my last two articles dealt with subjects for the informative presentation, I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss those forms of oral discourse which are persuasive in nature. The idea with the persuasive is to take your 5, 10, 20 or 40-minute presentation and convince your audience to agree with what you are saying. In other words, to persuade your audience to agree with your ideas, theories, values or beliefs. In business, this may mean selling a product, your client’s innocence, a contract, or even your motivational CD’s in the back of the room.
For many people involved with Toastmasters or attending a public speaking class or workshop, however, selecting a topic for a persuasive presentation can be daunting. Because your club or your coach may not allow a business topic, you may be required to voice your opinion on something with which others may disagree. Whereas with the informative presentation you are essentially providing a descriptive account, the persuasive requires you to try to convince your listeners to see things the way you do. The difference between the two is that the informative does not require your listeners to agree with you – only to listen.
Do you hold an opinion on a controversial subject that you would like to share with others? Do you agree or disagree with abortion, same-sex marriage, global warming, or socialized medicine? Perhaps you have an opinion on the lowering or the raising of the drinking age. If you feel strongly on a particular subject, do your research and then talk about it.
Blogs, forums, and websites that provide articles for commentary are excellent avenues to explore for topics. I constantly think of new topics for articles when I read commentaries and opinion pieces. And, in some of those cases, I disagree with the writer and will publish a rebuttal. Once you have your topic, create your presentation by listing your information, your facts, your figures, or your beliefs and then either defend it or dispute it.
The persuasive is really no more difficult to create or to deliver than the informative; however, you need to be prepared for some to disagree no matter what you say, no matter how good your evidence, and no matter what the media says. Everyone is in entitled to his/her opinion and it your job to respect that. Don’t be at a loss for a topic the next time you are required to give a persuasive presentation. Life is full of topical debate. Select something you believe in and then defend it.