Monday, September 1, 2008

Official Google Blog: A fresh take on the browser

Google Chrome is here

Monday, November 26, 2007

Persuasion Through Controversy

When writing you persuasive speech, don't be afraid to embrace controversy. Take a stand about something, make a statement, and start a conversation. Too many speakers try and maintain a "middle of the road" approach, an approach that they believe will please the majority of people. For a persuasive speaker, this is suicide. The whole idea behind persuasion is to bring someone over to your side of the fence, and that involves controversy.

Challenge accepted perceptions and beliefs, and argue your point with passion and intelligence. Understand that not everybody will agree with you, but that's ok, because if they don't agree with you, they will say something, and keep the conversation going, giving you more opportunities to persuade people over to your point of view.

If you do manage to win them over, then so much the better, as you will have created a new champion for your cause. So go against the flow, create a stir, and become embroiled in a controversy. It's your speech, so make it a good one!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Persuasion Topics

Just a bonus list of persuasion topics, while I get the next installment in my "How to write a persuasive speech" series ready... Enjoy!

These topics are always sure to draw a crowd:

  • Make money
  • Find love
  • Improve your health and fitness
  • Achieve your personal dreams

These persuasion topics require an opinion, and can be a bit contentious. A strong, confident voice is a very good idea:

  • Outsourcing vs. In House Workers
  • SUV's
  • Blogging/Citizen Journalism
  • Alternative Energy
  • Breast Feeding in Public
  • Single Parent Families
  • Reproductive Technologies
  • Water Resources
  • Aliens and UFO's

As this selection of persuasive speech topics shows, the variety of topics that you can cover is virtually limitless. In the end, it's not the persuasion topics that do the persuading, its you.

Friday, November 2, 2007

How to Structure Your Persuasive Speech

How you structure you speech will drastically effect how your speech is received. Indeed, the foundation of your persuasive speech is its structure, that is how you have laid it out. Does it flow from one area to the next? Is it logical? How is it structured? The most common structure to any speech, persuasive or otherwise, is as follows:

  1. Tell them what you are going to say.
  2. Say it
  3. Tell them what you said

Pretty simple, isn't it? Let's expand on it, and see how to implement it effectively. Start with a solid headline, one that clearly states what you will be talking about, and why the audience should be interested. “How to save time and money by jogging”

Fair enough, that's a terrible headline, but the formula is the one you should use: How to (benefit) by (your topic). Lead with the benefit, using phrases like “how to...”, “the advantages of...”, and the like, followed by your topic, in this case "jogging". Easy, yes?

In the introductory paragraph of your speech, outline the topic. Tell them what you are going to be telling them. This can be a good place to introduce a problem that you have the solution to.

“With the rising cost of fuel and maintenance, cars are becoming more of an expensive luxury to today's executive, which is why many modern execs are taking up jogging to and from work.”

So here we have introduced a problem “cars are becoming more of an expensive luxury”, and a solution, “jogging”. Forgive me if I state the obvious, but the solution should be your topic, or the thought you want your audience to agree to, whether it be a shift in opinion, a commitment to buy, or whatever.

The next step is to let them know what you are going to say. Talk about (in this case) how jogging will help them save money. Then you will launch into the main body of your speech. Give them a few statistics and figures such as, “fuel prices have risen 3000 percent in the last 5 years”, "joggers save money, and find that their morning jog has greatly increased their energy and productivity”, and the like. (Ed.: The preceding figures were made up just for this article) Talk about how the benefits of your offer solve the problem(s) you outlined in the introduction.

Finally, recap everything you just said, in short form, finishing with a call to action, as appropriate.

And there you have it: You just told your audience what you were going to tell them, then you told them, and finally you told them what you just told them. Make each section flow one into the other, and you will be well on your way to persuading your audience of your message.

Friday, October 26, 2007

How to Write a Persuasive Speech

Having found the perfect persuasive speech topic, it should be easy as pie to write and deliver the speech, and have everybody agree with you, right? Wrong. I'm sorry to say that your work has only just begun. Writing, and delivering a persuasive speech is quite possibly the most difficult speaking assignment you will ever be tasked with. But never fear, it isn't impossible, and with a few tips to point you in the right direction, you will soon be writing and delivering your speech like a pro.

The next several articles will guide you through the process, one step at a time, and at the end of this series, you will be more than just comfortable writing your speech, you will be able to deliver it with confidence and conviction.

The very definition of persuasion is to get someone to change their mind about something. Your goal, as the persuasive speaker, is to take them from “no” to “yes”. If you think that this is a confrontational or competitive stance to take, you're right. And if you are not comfortable with that stance, give yourself a pat on the back, because you are halfway to becoming a persuasive speaker.

There is an old saying that goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink”. It's the same with your audience, you can show them whatever you like, but you can't make them take it. Or buy it. Or agree with it. Period. They will take, buy, or agree for reasons of their own, and if you do not understand those reasons, you will get exactly nowhere.

So, in order to lead your audience around to your point of view, you have to start where they are, and lead them from there. Show them that you have something in common with them. It may be a common goal or objective, a shared concern, or similar life events. Whatever it is, show them that you are one of them, and let them know that you have something to share with the group.

Link this common bond to your goal (the thing you wish to persuade the audience of) by addressing their needs, fears, hopes and desires, and show them how your point of view will fulfil, address, or redress the above, as applicable.

From this I hope you can begin to see that your persuasive speech topic is just the starting point to your brilliant presentation. From here, we will continue to explore the ins and outs of writing and presenting your topic, and persuading your audience to accept the gifts that you offer.

Till next time, MBerry

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Persuasive Speech Topics to Avoid

You see it in the news at least once a week: The Topic That Won't Die. The Death Penalty. The Legalization of Marijuana. Violence on TV. Or you can pick your own, there are plenty to choose from. These are topics that are overused, and should be avoided for your persuasive speech, except in certain very limited circumstances (more on that in a moment).

The allure of these topics is easy to see; they are popular, everybody is talking about them, and you don't need to introduce or explain the issues at hand. Unfortunately, these are the very reasons that you should avoid them like the plague, especially if you want to persuade your audience towards a particular point of view. Because your audience has probably heard all of the arguments for and against the topic, they have probably already made up their minds, which leaves you either preaching to the choir, or facing a hostile audience.

The only exception to this is if the topic is relevant to the group you are addressing. One possible example could be speaking to a cancer group about the benefits of marijuana as a counter to the effects of chemotherapy. (Note: I am not advocating this as a topic, nor do I advocate the use of marijuana, just using it as an example for this discussion)

While it may be tempting to use one of these topics, I will say again, don't do it, because your goal when giving a persuasive speech is not to keep the discussion going, but to persuade your audience. These “hot” topics are too hotly contested. Your audience has heard all the arguments before, and even if you do manage to persuade them to a different point of view, all your work could easily be demolished when the next news headline causes them to change their minds back.

Some examples of persuasive speech topics to avoid are:

  • Gun Control
  • Drunk Driving
  • Drug Legalization
  • Abortion
  • Eating disorders
  • Capital Punishment

These topics are good examples of what to avoid because they are controversial. They are overused, custom built to start an argument, emotionally charged, and everybody talks about them. They are not persuasive. The rule of thumb is that if everybody else is using it, you shouldn't, because it has long since ceased to be a persuasive speech topic.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Starter List of Persuasive Speech Topics

You have considered your audience, evaluated your objectives, and you know what you want to persuade them to do/think/or feel with you speech. But what topic do you choose that would best suit your purposes and their needs? What will appeal to them? I can't answer that question for you, because it is entirely dependent on the specific group that you will be addressing. I can, however, give you a short starter list to get the ideas flowing. So without further ado, here is a short list of possible persuasive speech topics.

  • Abused Women
  • Acid Rain
  • Adoption
  • Age Discrimination
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Ballot Initiatives/Electronic Voting
  • Bermuda Triangle
  • Biodiversity
  • Body Piercings
  • Censorship
  • Cloning
  • Curfews
  • Creationism vs. Evolution (Choose one side to argue)
  • Depression
  • Espionage and Intelligence Gathering
  • Gambling
  • Home Schooling
  • Homelessness
  • Inner City Poverty
  • Internet Chatrooms
  • Islamic fundamentalism
  • Legal System
  • Media Violence
  • Medicine Abuse
  • Nuclear Technology
  • Physician-Assisted Suicide
  • Racial Profiling
  • Reproductive Technologies
  • School Uniforms
  • Single Parent Families
  • Space Exploration
  • Transportation
  • Urban Terrorism
  • War on Drugs
  • Women in the Military
  • World Trade

There you go: 36 suggestions for your consideration as you go about choosing your speech topic. Use one of them, or let the ideas presented here be a springboard to choosing a persuasive speech topic better suited to your presentation.