4.2 Describing and persuading
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 civil engineer. The main part of your talk could be organised under these five headings:
- Background information about the company you work for
- What goes on in your 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:
- Other people’s arguments
- Problems with these arguments
- Your arguments
- Benefits of your arguments.
Here is an example based on persuading local residents to agree to a new housing development.
- General background to the development plans
- Why residents may not want the development to go ahead
- Evidence of the development’s benefits to the local area
- Impact on the area if the develoopment does not go ahead
- How the development will benefit the residents.
Activity 16 Deciding on the main points of a talk
Imagine you work for a construction company and you are planning to give a talk persuading other staff to do a first aid course. Write down some headings for your talk to show how you would structure your argument.
You could include any or all of the following:
General information about first aid and the training – what it involves, how long it is and where it takes place.
Some of the reasons people might not want to go.
Arguments against these reasons.
Feedback from previous participants.
Benefits to individuals, colleagues and wider society.