Good public speakers are not born. They are organized.
Without question, their effectiveness can be traced to one common denominator: Before taking the microphone, they hone their talks to a razor sharp focus. As a result, their actual presentations are always memorable.
Whether you're a seasoned professional or a petrified novice, you can WOW your audiences with a well-organized talk. Before your next (or first) speaking event on abortion, here's how to transform your rambling monologue into an engaging, memorable presentation.
Three essential questions to ask before moving your lips:
Question #1 Who is my audience?
Failure to ask this question can result in disaster. A presentation titled, "What the Bible Says About Abortion" that earned rave reviews from your Sunday school class will go down in flames if offered to a philosophy class at UCLA.
If your audience is composed of junior high church kids, a rambling monologue on the theme, "The Theological Case for the Existence of Fetal Personhood based on the Hebrew Documents" (yawn) might not work as well as a talk titled, "How Christian Teens Can Help Stop the Killing."
Questions to consider when evaluating your audience:
Question #2 What goal should I have for each audience?
Hostile audiences: Goal—neutralize them
You may not convert a hard-core abortion-advocate to your point of view, but you can neutralize him. Graphic visual aids such as "Harder Truth" tend to shake the cock-sure arrogance of most abortion advocates. It forces them to defend killing unborn human beings (rather than talking about "choice") and that terrifies them.
When talking to a largely pro-abortion audience, attack the very foundation of their position with hard-hitting questions like "If the unborn are not human, why not create fetuses solely for research purposes?" and "Should we anesthetize a human fetus prior to an abortion procedure to ease the pain of dismemberment?"
Mixed audiences: Goal—convert people who claim to be neutral
If you are like me, you probably have friends who say things like, "I'm personally opposed to abortion, but I wouldn't want to force my views on anyone else." We need to expose this line of thinking as vacuous.
Imagine, for example, someone saying, "I'm personally opposed to sexual harassment, but I don't think we should take that choice away from the men of this country." Or, "I'm personally opposed to slavery, but if you want to own a slave, I won't force my morality on you."
People who argue this way are pro-abortion by default. Most of them have heard nothing but pro-abortion cliches all of their lives. When people say they are "personally opposed" to abortion, but think it should remain legal anyway, I borrow a tactic from Greg Koukl and ask, "Why are you personally opposed?"
The reply is always the same: "I'm opposed to abortion because it kills a baby." That's the only response one can offer—after all, if abortion does not take the life of a human being, why be opposed at all?
To which I reply, "May I repeat back what you just said to me? You say you oppose abortion because it kills a baby, but you think it should be legal to kill babies?"
The response is telling: "Gee, I've never thought of it that way. It doesn't sound so pretty once you take the spin off it." The good news is that tactics like this, coupled with hard-hitting pro-life presentations, can persuade many of these folks to reconsider the truly relevant facts.
Friendly audiences: Goal—activate converts
Gregg Cunningham observes that the vast majority of pro-life Christians who say they believe that elective abortion unjustly kills a defenseless human being are not lifting a finger to stop it. We need to move these people from attitudinal opposition to abortion to behavioral opposition to abortion.
We do this by breaking their hearts and creating a sense of outrage that in turn inspires sacrificial changes in behavior. It's difficult to break hearts, however, without showing people abortion. That's why graphic depictions of abortion, used properly, are indispensable tools.
Question #3 What are the particulars?
Before you go speak, make sure you nail down the specifics:
Scott Klusendorf is the President of Life Training Institute and he persuasively defends pro-life views in the public arena, equipping pro-life students and adults to make their case persuasively in the marketplace of ideas. Want more information about communicating the Sanctity of Human Life persuasively, passionately and practically? Need some sample speaking outlines or 5-Minute Pro-Life talking points? Go to: www.prolifetraining.com or www.caseforlife.com.
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