If you want to win an argument, you have to let your voice be heard. Your voice is the medium by which you can convince people that your arguments have merit. To win an argument, however, requires more than just saying your piece. You have to say it in such a manner that is convincing to the other party.
This is simply more than eloquence. You have to deliver it in a way that will allow you to connect with others to their very core, make them listen and enable them to understand where you’re coming from. More often than not, courtroom battles are won because of the persuasive power of an attorney despite the evidence that the other party might possess.
The question now is: How do you deliver the most persuasive speech in your life? How do you make the other side see your point-of-view, and even more importantly, how do you encourage them to side with you?
It all starts with passion.
In the arena of argumentation, everything begins with passion. This means that you have to be very convinced of your side of the issue. If you are half-hearted about your arguments, you can’t expect to make a passionate delivery. As a result, your uncertainty is going to be transmitted to your audience.
You can’t expect to win an argument if you are not completely convinced about the statements that support your point-of-view. On the other hand, if you totally believe that you should win then you are going to deliver your argument with all the fervor and passion in the world that will consequently bring your audience to your side.
Move others with your presence.
When you are truly convinced that your side is worth hearing out, your voice and actions will reflect this belief. Your words and gestures will flow naturally from your core, showcasing your belief that you have something to say that everyone should listen to. Yes, your testimony is going to anger some, elicit feelings of sadness in others and even compel some to hate you.
However, what is important is that you don’t leave one unmoved because it is only when you elicit some kind of reaction from your audience are you assured that people are actually listening to you. Keep in mind that your end goal is to persuade people—especially those who will be deciding on your case—and you want to move them with your argument.
Speak from the heart.
If you want to win an oral argument, you have to speak from the heart. Scientifically speaking, you are going to be speaking from your mind since that controls the overall function of your body. When we say you should speak from the heart, we are saying that you should not read from a script.
Speaking from the heart presupposes that you know your arguments and believe in them fully that you don’t have to refer to any piece of paper. This requires a great deal of understanding and internalization of the issues at hand but this intensive preparation is going to pay off when your arguments start to roll out smoothly from your tongue.
Focus on your message.
In the course of an argument, an exchange with the other party is expected. In court, for example, you can see lawyers engaged in verbal sparring with each other. If one objects to the other lawyer’s line of questioning, the other tries to convince the judge why he should be allowed to proceed.
In the course of the debate, however, many lawyers immediately forget the reason why they are questioning a witness or a suspect in a particular manner. The verbal back-and-forth has the potential to deflect you from your original point and consequently, make you lose the argument. The moral of the story is that no matter what happens, you’ve got to focus on your message.
Make eye contact with your audience.
When making your argument, one of the most important things you can do to prove that you are sincere in what you are saying is to make eye contact with your audience. Eyes that avert the gaze of others coupled with fidgety motions while delivering a speech are perceived as sure giveaways that you are not telling the truth. Don’t give your audience any reason to doubt what you are saying. If you want them to really feel your cause and sympathize, you should look at them straight in the eye while delivering your message.
Use clear, short and simple words.
Words are the medium by which you deliver your message. The phrases and sentences you use, the expressions, your entire discourse—they are all made up of single words strung together to craft your message. Thus, your aim in using words should be to make people understand what you have to say, not to impress them with your knowledge of deep and difficult words.
If your audience does not understand you then you can be certain that you’ve already lost the argument. Choose your words well. As much as possible, you should stick to those that are simple and easy to understand. The same principle applies to your sentences: Keep them as short as possible so that those who are listening will be able to digest them easily.
Be firm and specific.
When citing experts to support your case, you should endeavor to be specific. Thus, you don’t want to simply say “According to experts,” “Recent studies show” or “I heard that.” These inferences can put you in a position where you could be asked to name your experts and your studies. It’s good if you have them but if you don’t then you would have lost your credibility.
Also, you should avoid using words like may, might, should or could. Doing so will make it easier for the other party to poke a hole in your argument. When you know your facts, you won’t leave room for uncertainties to undermine your position.
Listen to what the other party has to say.
Once you have already delivered your piece, it’s important to listen to what the other party has to say. You listen because it is a given in argumentation that both parties have a right to have their side heard.
If you are arguing, say with your officemate or your spouse, listening paves the way for understanding where your colleague or husband or wife is coming from. In doing so, you hope to resolve your issues. By listening, you are also able to clarify certain points that the other party is saying that would also prove to be a weak part in their argument. You can then raise this point again in the form of a question and can thus prove to them that they are mistaken.
Don’t lose your cool.
Arguments can become very heated—that much is a fact. However, the person who loses his temper and starts punching the opponent in the face is the one who is going to lose it.
Argumentation is not fighting. It is an exchange of words but it is not a physical battle. Thus, you win your argument not by proving that you are the stronger one physically but by convincing people that you are right. Always keep your cool even in the most heated of exchanges.
Together with not losing your cool is also realizing when you’ve already done enough. The best way to win an argument is not to attack personalities but deliver points that weaken the opponent’s position.
If you attack personalities, you will only succeed in angering your opponent who might get so frustrated that he will be provoked to start a boxing match with you. This accomplishes nothing, not even a victory on your end, so confine your argument only with the facts at hand.
To deliver a winning argument requires you to believe in and be passionate about your cause. This requires a good deal of preparation and research on your end. When you know your arguments, facts and sources very well, you are able to deliver your piece with conviction and fervor which will enable you to connect with your audience.
Intensive preparation will enable you to state your case without looking at any script and thus make you address each member of an audience personally.
Yet no matter how much you prepare, you also have to acknowledge that you can’t win in all arguments. There are times when winning means listening and moving on. For example, certain prejudices cannot be undone and attempting to do so is like banging your head against a brick wall.
It’s simply impossible unless you want to crack your skull open and damage yourself. In these cases, winning can mean moving on. Doing so does not mean you’ve quit; it simply means that you have saved up your energy and resources for more battles ahead. In this case, a temporary setback is not a loss but a time to prioritize and evaluate the battles that are worth fighting for.
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