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Everyday English 2
Everyday English 2

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4.2 Describing and persuading

Described image
Figure 12 How (not) to persuade

When you prepare a talk, you need to structure your main points to help your audience follow what you are saying. The way you do this will depend on the purpose of your talk. Your structure will be different if you are:

  • describing an experience or a series of events
  • persuading people by presenting your case.


Imagine that you have been asked to talk to a group of new employees to tell them about your job as a nurse. The main part of your talk could be organised under these five headings:

  • Background information about the hospital or surgery
  • What goes on in the department
  • Details of your work
  • What you most enjoy about your work
  • What you dislike about your job.


However, if your talk is to persuade, you need to adopt a different structure for your main points, such as this:

  • Background
  • Other people’s arguments
  • Problems with other people’s arguments
  • Your arguments
  • Benefits of your arguments.

Here is an example based on persuading people not to smoke.

  • General background to smoking
  • Why smokers enjoy smoking
  • Evidence of damage to health
  • Cost of smoking to individuals and the NHS
  • How to give up smoking easily.

Activity 16 Deciding on the main points of a talk

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Imagine you work for the NHS and are planning to give a talk persuading people to donate blood. Write down some headings for your talk to show how you would structure your argument.

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You could include any or all of the following:

  • General information about giving blood – how to make contact with the Service and where donor sessions take place.
  • Some of the ideas people have about giving blood.
  • Putting the facts straight – what actually takes place.
  • A case study about an individual donor.
  • The benefits to both individuals and the NHS.