S.T.E.P. – “Prove” (Day 18)

Today, we will cover the final stage of the process of called “S.T.E.P.”, a method of persuading and organizing your talk or essay, and is explained in Dr. Jeff Myers book called “Secretes of Great Communicators. Two days ago, I covered the first two parts of this process, called “State” and “Translate”, and yesterday, I explained the third stage of the process, called “Exemplify”. Today, we will discuss the fourth part of S.T.E.P., called “Prove”.

Prove means that you must provide “proof” (quotes and evidence) which show your point is true. Even if your audience is tracking with you if you are delivering a speech, your audience needs “proof”. As a writer, you cannot observe your reader’s reaction; however, the reader also needs “proof”.  There are two kinds of proof: testimony and statistics.

  1. Testimony: A testimony is an expert’s opinion of your message. An expert opinion is used to clarify an argument.  In Team Policy debate, this is often referred to as a “Plan Advocate”, or in other words, an expert who has written opinion and approval in favor of an Affirmative team’s policy proposal.  As a communicator, how can you make your quotes memorable? Dr. Myers lists five ways:

– Quote the source accurately.

– Choose sources with which the audience is familiar (if possible). If not, explain why the source is trustworthy and believable.

– If most experts agree with the source you are quoting, say so. If most experts disagree with it, explain why the source you are quoting should be believed.

– Find quotes that are short and to the point.

– Some of the best quotes are from a source that you would not expect to take the position (i.e., Myers gives the example of an evolutionist testifying to evidence of a creator).

2. Statistics: Statistics are numerical summaries of data. They give support to your argument. Myers lists 5 strategies for properly using statistics:

– Use statistics in moderation. Too many numbers creates confusion.

– Round off whole numbers.

– Use graphics and visual aids, if possible. It helps audiences understand numbers and percentages. The more complex a statistic, the more care you must take in presenting it.

– Use recent statistics and briefly explain how the data was collected. In Team Policy debate, recent statistics (over the past two years) are a must.

– Give the source of the statistics and reinforce the credibility of the source.

Using the S.T.E.P. system (or any other system) may feel awkward at first, because it is methodical and deliberate. But good writing and speaking are crafted from deliberate steps; writing is an art, but it is also a habit, a discipline, and a method. Good writing comes from good practicing.

Tune in tomorrow as we continue with more ideas on Day 19 in this series of “31 Days of Communication Tips”.

Question for you: How often do you use “testimony” or “statistics” to help prove your point? How can you seamlessly weave these into your speech or essay?

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