One of the reasons why people are afraid to go into an argument is because they fear that they don’t know how to craft an effective and persuasive case. When they can’t formulate a winning argument, they know that the most likely outcome is a loss. Losing an argument in whatever form can also translate to shame and loss of face. If this is the concern that is preventing you from backing down in every argument, take heart. It is still possible to structure a winning argument if you take the time to learn this craft.
The first thing that you should keep in mind is that crafting a winning argument requires you to be an engaging storyteller. Telling a story is inherent in people. Before the advent of the written word, the history of a village and the exploits of their heroes were handed down from one generation to another orally. The appeal of storytelling continues to be apparent even until today, as evidenced in our love for movies and even in children’s constant requests to their parents for bedtime stories. Even our penchant for gossip is also evidence of humanity’s love for stories.
This same fascination for storytelling is actually one of the most powerful tools you can use to make a winning argument. Everyone listens to a story because it is interesting in and of itself. People naturally gravitate towards a story since they want to know what the ending is. On the part of the storyteller, telling the sequence of events comes naturally, making the words flow effortlessly. Another important reason why storytelling makes for a good argument is the fact that the story itself serves as the launch point from where to make your argument. In essence, you are using the story to advance the argument that you want to put forward. Your story encapsulates the facts and reasons that will highlight your cause.
Thus, it becomes pretty obvious that there is more to telling a story if you want to use it to win an argument. It entails following a certain set of steps to be able to come up with a compelling narrative that will make you victorious in debates. What are these steps? Read on to find out.
Come up with a central argument.
In argumentation and debate, your central argument is formally called a thesis. This is the core of your belief about a particular issue. Think about a potential story that could encompass this belief. This story can be something you make up based on the facts of your case or it could be a true event from the case itself. No matter where the story is drawn from, what’s important is that it supports your thesis.
Do your research.
A story isn’t going to be enough. That story has to be supported by facts. To be able to do this, you need to do your research. If the case is about an illness, you may need to talk to a doctor or another medical professional. You may also need to do research in a public library or online. You may even need to call public offices to get research and data related to your topic.
Write everything down.
Your research would be useless if you don’t write what you have found out. Merely reading is not going to be enough. When you have the data written down, you are able to analyze, edit and determine what other information you still need to look up on. From what you have written, you can decide how best to structure your thoughts and ideas.
Writing down everything you have gleaned from your research cannot be overemphasized. Putting thoughts on paper distills everything. You are able to clarify what it is that you know as of that moment which will pave the way for you to find out whether you still need to do more research. Writing also paves the way for you to “own” your arguments. When you know your points by heart, telling it becomes more natural and as a result, your speech, actions and overall delivery of all your points is fluid, convincing and ultimately, triumphant.
Get the other side of the issue.
There are two sides to every coin and the reason why people get into arguments is because the other party does not adhere to your points. If you want to persuade people to side with your cause, you need to understand exactly what it is that they want. That means anticipating their counter arguments. Try to read the possible difficulties you will encounter when it comes to letting the party see your thoughts. Doing so helps you prepare an argument that will be more persuasive than that of the other party.
Consequences of Inadequate Preparation
Based on what we have written above, it becomes pretty obvious that preparation is a major element in your quest to tell the most convincing story that will clinch your argument. You cannot underestimate the value of research because no emotionally gripping story is going to stand if it isn’t accompanied by facts.
Perhaps you might wonder: If I’m already an excellent speaker, can I get away with an argument even without making the necessary preparation? Unfortunately, the answer is no. That just isn’t possible. You may be able to convince the other party at first but eventually, your lack of knowledge will be exposed. You may be able to deliver an emotionally-charged speech but it is going to lack soul because you didn’t do enough research on the subject. You are eventually going to run out of steam once your opponent bombards you with one fact after another. When you can’t parry those facts with declarations that are equally true, you are going to be put in a difficult spot. The inevitable result is losing.
Telling a Story Effectively
While preparation will greatly help you in your quest to win an argument, this is only going to be half the battle. The other half lies in how you tell your story, how you share the information you have gleaned from your research and how you connect with others while you’re telling your side. In a court room battle, for example, the people you are going to try to do your best to persuade are the members of the jury and the judge because they are going to be deciding your case.
In telling the story, you should use words creatively. That means utilizing words that are simple yet loaded with emotion. You have to let the other party or those who will be integral in deciding your case understand where you’re coming from. You don’t explain things. Rather, you make them see what it is that you want them to see. If you want to tell them what someone who was in the verge of drowning must have experienced, you should make them feel what it is like. Your aim is to make them care about the person who almost drowned. Avoid highly intellectual discourses because they don’t only bore your audience but also does not have any emotional appeal. People respond when you talk to their hearts and one way to do that is to give them something concrete and vivid to hold on to.
Another important point to remember when telling a story is honesty. You are more likely to win an argument if you tell your side truthfully and with conviction. Thus, if there are hidden skeletons in your closet, it’s important to understand that owning up to it is going to be advantageous for you in the long run. People are more forgiving when you confess to a wrongdoing before your opponent does it for you. However, they are less inclined to forgive you if the expose comes from the other party since people will believe that you first wanted to cover up the wrongdoing. Such action is not going to warrant their patience, much more their forgiveness. Thus, if there is something you are hiding that you know is integral to the case, it’s better to be come out clean yourself than try to bury it under the covers. Eventually, the truth will come out and when that happens your credibility is going to be severely affected.
When telling your side to an audience, it’s important to not make them feel that you are lording it over them. Humility is going to play wonders because it makes the decision-makers feel that you are giving them the power to decide your case. As a result, they will listen to what you have to say and evaluate if it has merit. When you become very domineering to the point of being boastful and proud, the people who will decide your case will simply close their ears to what you have to say. It’s the same effect as how people try to escape from the presence of a person who is too aggressive or who reeks of excessive self-confidence. Avoid too much pride at all costs.
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