Step #1: Brainstorm for ideas!
The best way to do this is to grab a cup of coffee (or go for a jog) to get the mental juices flowing. Then, start scribbling your random thoughts on a sheet of paper.
Ask yourself, "What do I want my audience to know about abortion when I am finished speaking?" What tools of thought do I want them to get from my talk?
Ultimately, you want to establish the humanity of the unborn child and the inhumanity of the abortion act, but what facts and arguments can you bring to meet this objective?
What lies and distortions about abortion have you recently heard or seen in the media? Which of these has you fit to be tied?
If you were a newscaster and had 40 minutes to clear up these lies, what would you say to your hearers? What new facts and insights about abortion are you eager to pass along?
What do you want people to do about what they see and hear in your presentation?
Asking these types of questions will stimulate your thinking. Do not worry about organizing all of your thoughts at this time. Rather, your goal should be a sheet of paper covered with random feelings and ideas about abortion. No idea should be rejected just yet. Keep your pen moving!
Step #2: Choose a central theme
This involves reducing your random ideas on abortion down to a single aspect or theme. The theme should be brief and is usually expressed in a simple phrase. Here are some examples (though many others could suffice):
It is, of course, permissible to discuss several key facts about abortion as long as you have a single unifying theme. But be careful you don't drift aimlessly trying to cover too many ideas at once. It's better to have a razor-sharp focus than a broad, dull one.
Step #3: Write a clear propositional statement (or thesis)
Now it's time for the most important step. You must determine exactly what you hope to communicate with your presentation.
Ask yourself, "What do I want to accomplish with this talk? What point do I want to drive home with my audience? What actions do I want people to take as the result of hearing my talk? The process of asking these types of questions is tedious, but you must tolerate it if you want to move on to the next step—writing a propositional statement.
A propositional statement (or thesis) is a single sentence that describes the thesis or purpose of your talk. It should neatly summarize the point of your presentation in clear and concise terms. Be prepared to invest some time pounding this out.
Remember what they teach good preachers to do in seminary: "Say one thing and say it well!" (This is why you should never prepare at the last minute—start at least two weeks ahead, if possible.)
The following are two possible propositional statements for the theme, "Abortion and Christian Teens":
Notice that the first statement is an enabling one—its focus will be to tell Christian teens how to help stop the killing. The second, meanwhile, is an obligatory one—its focus will be why Christian teens should work to stop the killing.
You must decide what type of speech you want. Once that is done you can begin formulating the rationale for your propositional statement, the main points that will support it.
Step #4: Develop the rationale for your propositional statement
Let's take, for example, the propositional statement above: "Christian teens can help stop the killing." Obviously, you have chosen an enabling focus for your presentation, which means the main points of your talk should tell students how they can help stop the killing. These main points are the rationale for your propositional statement. The following is an example of the above propositional statement complete with the rationale (i.e. main points) that could be used to support it:
"Christian teens can help stop the killing."
Possible supporting rationale (i.e., how Christian teens can help stop the killing):
Notice that we now have a rough outline for a presentation, complete with a clearly stated objective and a summary of our main points (rationale). Although we still need to fill in the many details that will make for interesting content, our presentation already has focus. It will not drift aimlessly because it has a point.
Now you are ready to buttress each of your main points with facts and arguments. What studies can you cite to back up your main points? Is there an illustration or anecdote that can enhance a given point?" Why is the pro-abortion rhetoric so often heard on this point flawed or fallacious?
Since in this case you are talking to a Christian group, what Scripture references can you cite in support of your facts? What practical steps should Christian teens take to carry out each of these points? Questions like this will add spice to your presentation and help provide the hard-hitting content you need to make it effective.
In one sense, you could think of the above process as posing a question to your audience and then answering it with your main points: "Young people, tonight I want to address the question, "What can you do, as Christian students, to help stop the killing? I want to show you five specific steps you can take to make a real difference right now where you live."
Your presentation will have a razor-sharp focus if you:
Note from the Author: I am indebted here to Ken Davis and his fine book, How to Speak to Youth and Keep them Awake at the Same Time (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986). Though I have modified Ken's principles to suit my own needs as a pro-life speaker, the basic methodology described here was developed from his book.__________
Scott Klusendorf is the President of Life Training Institute and he persuasively defends pro-life views in the public arena, euipping 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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