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Speak Your Mind: Inquiry, Critical Thinking, and the Power to Persuade

Preparing to...


Talking Points


Direct quotes allow you to borrow credibility from well known individuals (and the respect that comes with it). Use quotes sparingly for the greatest effect.  Select a short phrase that is memorable and cannot easily be restated with the same effect.


Statistics are powerful tools of persuasion because they are difficult to refute. Be sure to gather statistics from reputable sources (such as government agencies and research institutions). 


Polls and surveys provide insights into the trends in public opinion and activity.  Don't underestimate the persuasiveness of going along with "the crowd."  Use information from these polls to make an appeal to your audience.


Anecdotal evidence (case studies and real-life stories) can be effective in helping you connect to an audience because they help you connect to your audience on a personal level.

The Persuasive Pattern

The Persuasive Pattern

Break the ice.

Grab your audience’s attention and connects to your audience’s mindset.

Establish your point of view.

Present a thesis, simply enumerate your main points, AND let your audience know what it is you will persuade them to think/do.

Build your argument.

KNOW the issue.  Establish your credibility by demonstrating your research skills.  Borrow credibility from experts by using paraphrase indicators.

Present the CON.  Acknowledging other points of view demonstrate that you have, in fact, considered all options prior to choosing your stance.

Follow with the PRO. Offering evidence in support of your stance after acknowledging your opponent puts you in the position of “rebuttal.”  Audiences are more likely to retain this information and therefore agree with your conclusions. Enumerating (1-2-3) your pros to provide structure and help your audience make sense of your thesis.

Repeat your thesis and conclude.

Make a “call to action” by recognizing a dilemma faced by the audience and offering a solution.  When your conclusion is offered as an answer to a problem, audiences are compelled to act.  It  empowers them.   

Employing a powerful and memorable mantra (phrase/slogan/punch line) will keep your audience thinking about your message long after you’re finished speaking.

Nader Helmy, 2012 National Forensics Champion (High School)

​Seven Habits of Persuasive Speakers (John Cale, National Forensics Collegiate Champion)  

Choose the RIGHT topic!
Do you care about the topic enough to take a stand?  Do you care too much to remain logical?  

Know your audience!  
Understand the people you are speaking to.  What are their interests?  What is their likely point of view regarding your topic? What are their needs?  What is it you’d like them to do or think? Can you empower them to act?

Support your argument!
Can you find persuasive information and/or credible experts who share your opinion?

Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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