Foundational Knowledge: Persuasion

Derby Roan, Managing Editor

Persuasion is the act of trying to get someone to understand or agree with your beliefs. This can be applied in everyday conversations, but is especially useful in speeches.
Before trying to sway a person’s opinion, one should first research his own opinions to make sure they are valid, and also to find data to back them up if possible.
When researching, it’s also important to pay special attention to opposing arguments, because there may be some truth in them. Read any opposition carefully and find logical evidence to refute its points. There may be some validity in both your view and the opposing view.
Sometimes neither is wrong, and it just comes down to a difference of opinion. Opinions are very important in persuasion. Don’t shy away from forums and opinion articles during your research, as long as you use a balanced amount from each viewpoint. It’s important to read up on different viewpoints.
Keep your audience’s familiarity level in mind. If you’re trying to persuade a toddler to eat a new food, you first have to explain what the food is to him. If your audience is unfamiliar with your topic, they’re likely to be uninterested or confused, no matter how well you present the information.
Make sure to address the counter-argument, what the opposition has to say. In the example of the toddler, if the child refuses the food because it’s green, you will have to address his concerns before he’ll ever eat it. In simple terms, no one will listen to you if you don’t take the time to listen to them and respond to their beliefs.
Finally, once you’ve presented the information, refresh their memory of your main points, and then tell them what you hope they’ll do with the information you presented. If you spoke about obesity in America, you may simply hope that they understand and share the information. If your topic was “Cats vs. Dogs,” you may hope that you’ve swayed the audience’s opinions to your side. Or, if you spoke on a topic like recycling, you may hope that your peers take action and start recycling.
Happy persuading!

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