Richard F. Taflinger, PhD

Interlude III:

How to Communicate

Prometheus suffered the wrath of the gods because he dared to bring from Olympus the fire of knowledge. Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden because they tasted of the tree of knowledge. The gods blamed Pandora for opening the Box, and letting loose upon the world evil in the form of demons, devils ... and knowledge.

What is knowledge? It could be thoughts, feelings, information that one person thinks, feels, or has learned. But the thoughts, feelings, information in one person's mind cannot be known by another -- unless, of course, they are communicated to others. Thus, knowledge by itself should not call down the wrath of the gods upon those who discover it. It must be that not the knowledge but the communication of thoughts, feelings, information from one person to another that is the sin of Prometheus, Adam and Eve, Pandora. Prometheus "gave honor to mortals beyond what is just" (Aeschylus, PROMETHEUS BOUND), God said about Adam and Eve "Behold, the man is become as one of us" (King James Bible, Genesis 3:22), and Pandora was Zeus' way of disapproving of Man's curiosity and search for knowledge.

Those who wish to have power over others must control, not knowledge, but communication of knowledge, the ability to transfer the thoughts, feelings and information held by one person to another. In revolutions, the first targets are the TV and radio stations; Hitler had a Ministry of Propaganda that controlled all communication into and out of Germany. Those who wish to enslave will limit communication; those who wish to release will expand communication.

Communication is the transmission of what you know to whoever it is you want to know it. For example, this book is my attempt to communicate to you what I know about thinking and communication.

There are many ways to communicate. Many insects comunicate by rubbing their wings or legs, by pheromones (chemical signals), by body language, or by flashing lights. Some animals do the same, and add various sounds. Human beings also communicate, rarely by rubbing their legs together, but they use smell (the perfume market is very large, and stand downwind of someone who hasn't bathed in several weeks and tell me they don't tell you something), flashing lights, body language, and sound.

One great advantage that human beings have over most of the rest of the animal kingdom is in the variety, subtlety, and sophistication of the messages they are capable of sending. Humans can talk, combining the variety of sounds they can create to produce, not merely a warning or a desire to mate, as many animals do, but to warn, explain what is being warned against, when the danger will appear and in what form, and what to do about it, and to create sonnets and whisper sweet nothings. In addition, humans have the unique ability to write, to agree that a bunch of silly looking squiggles and marks represent words, and thus communicate not only to those within the sound of a voice, but to those thousands of miles and even thousands of years away.

However, a problem enters at this point. Assuming agreement that humans are capable of communicating, it does not automatically follow that humans are able to, any more than being capable of playing the piano means that you are able to play the piano. Communicating and playing the piano are both skills requiring teaching and practice to do them well. You might argue that you can talk and write, and you would be absolutely correct. However, you can also play "Chopsticks", but that doesn't mean you can play Chopin, and good communication is the same as good music. It is the difference between talking and making a speech, and writing a letter and writing an essay: the former you are capable of doing, the latter is what you want to learn.


A major consideration in communicating is with whom you are communicating. Unless you spend lots of time talking to yourself (not necessarily a bad thing), you'll mostly talk to someone else. As a rule, your effectiveness as a communicator increases the more you know about your audience.

Advertisers are well aware that message effectiveness is directly proportional to audience knowledge. Thus, the more they know about their audience, the more they can tailor the message to that audience. For example, due to hormonal changes at puberty, teenagers get acne. If you manufacture an acne cream, you aim your message to teenagers. You use words and images that get and hold their attention and make them feel you're concerned about them and their appearance. If, on the other hand, you make denture cream, teenage images and words would not be effective since they aren't your audience.

Thus, finding out about your audience helps in determining what you will actually say to them and how you will say it. How you will say it is the province of the next section--Outlining.


An outline's purpose is to organize your ideas without excess verbiage getting in the way or being sidetracked from your intent. With an outline it's easy to see your organization, what information you have, what you still have to get. This way you can see whether or not you are actually accomplishing your purpose.

Before going into the steps in creating an outline, its a good idea to discuss the construction of a paper or speech. The construction is likened to the construction of a building: without a firm foundation, it will fall down from its own weight. A paper or speech is not written "extempore from my mother wit," else people may say "a witty mother, witless her son." (If you're wondering, the above quotes are from Shakespeare's THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. Shakespeare, it appears, had something to say about everything.) Even the most facile and ad libbed appearing speech or paper is carefully constructed beforehand, to ensure that it will accomplish its purpose. You need to do likewise.

Every paper or speech (or essay exam question, or thesis, or term paper . . . ) is, like Gaul, divided into three parts. (To anyone not identifying the source of that simile, welcome to the world of the fast food service industry.) The three parts are:

  1. 1) Introduction
  2. 2) Body
  3. 3) Conclusion

The INTRODUCTION tells the audience what you are going to tell them. There are, of course, a few rules. First, get their attention: if the audience isn't paying any attention to what you're telling them, there's not much point in telling them anything at all. One only has to watch a political convention to see this rule in action. Those speakers who get the audience's attention get the ovations, those that don't are ignored. GET THEIR ATTENTION! (How to do that will be discussed in later chapters on speaking and writing.)

Second, preview your main points (see below for what main points are). This gives your audience a running start at your specific purpose, preventing any confusion they may feel about just what you're trying to prove.

Third, DO NOT INCLUDE EVIDENCE. This is a major point. If, in the introduction, you can make the audience curious about what you are going to say about your subject, you've got them. They will want you to prove your points, and will thus pay close attention to see if you do indeed prove your points.

Finally, lead into the body of your work. The end of your introduction should lead naturally into the body, or you run the risk of losing your audience. The BODY of your work is what you actually tell the audience. It contains all of your main points and all of the evidence you have that proves each main point. In other words, it is the bulk of your work.

The CONCLUSION tells the audience what you just told them in the body of your work. First, it reminds the audience of your main points. In any piece that takes longer than five minutes to hear or read, by the time you've made and proven your last point, the audience has probably forgotten most of the rest of what you've told them. Thus, you must remind them.

However, do not include new points or evidence in the conclusion. If you haven't proven your specific purpose by now, it's too late. Afterthoughts are not evidence, they are either laziness or an attempt to influence the audience with points you can't prove. Either lose effectiveness if your audience has an IQ higher than that of a small salad bar. Don't do it.

Finally, the conclusion should leave the audience clear that you are done.

Now is the time to create your outline. Do not fall into the trap that most people do. Most people start at the beginning and when they come to the end, they stop. Such a process may seem logical, even common sense. However, it is wrong (common sense and logic also say that heavy weights fall faster than light weights, the world is flat, and the sun rises). In other words, don't start at the beginning. When creating the outline, start with the body, not the introduction. It is common for many people who start at the beginning to discover by the end that they have wandered off in an unexpected direction and have to go back and find out where they lost track. However, if you start with the body of your work, you will then know what you are introducing and can stick to the point you're trying to prove. Starting with the body also makes it easier to write the conclusion, since you now know what you're finishing. Start with the body of your work. It makes everything much easier and more to the point.

Now that you know where to start creating the outline, it is time to actually do it. There are six steps in creating the outline:

  1. 1) determine your specific purpose.
  2. 2) create your main points.
  3. 3) find your subpoints.
  4. 4) find backup for each subpoint.
  5. 5) create your introduction.
  6. 6) create your conclusion.

The first step, determining your specific purpose, is extremely important. Unless you know exactly what you want to accomplish with your work, you won't accomplish it. For example, your topic is nuclear power. What about it? Are you for or against? Are you going to explain how it works? How it doesn't work? Fusion or fission? Etc.. What is your specific purpose, because without one you have no purpose, no reason to bother people with your writing or speaking.

For a specific purpose let us take, for example, one of the topics from the list in Chapter Three. Since I'm interested in it, I'm going to select "advantages of the space program". The specific purpose can be:

  • I will prove there are no advantages to the space program.
  • I will prove that the space program is a waste of money.
  • I will prove that the space program has created many of the technological wonders of today.

Note that each specific purpose is a simple declarative sentence stating what I will accomplish. By referring to the statement I can be sure I won't wander from the subject.

Now that I have a specific purpose I can begin to create my outline. Remember, never start at the beginning, with the introduction. Always start with the body of the outline. Until you have determined exactly what you're going to say, you don't know what you're introducing. However, once you've finished the body of your paper or speech, the introduction and conclusion will virtually write themselves. So start with the body of your outline. The format of an outline is as follows:

I. Main point

A. subpoint

1. support

a. proof

b. proof

2. support

B. subpoint

II. Main point

A. subpoint

etc. ...

Note each level of the outline: main point, subpoint, support, proof, etc. There are some general comments to make about how to approach each level. First, do each level one at a time. In other words, do all of the main points before trying to do the subpoints, etc. If you do all of the main points first, you can be sure that 1) they are main points; and 2) you will be able to clearly see what subpoints you will need to support them.

After you have listed all of the main points, go to each and put in the subpoints, one main point at a time. Do not attempt to put in the support statements; only do the subpoints. In this way it is possible to see if you do indeed have subpoints to make about each mainpoint, that you have something specific to say about each main point.

Once you have finished the subpoints you can support them. A great advantage of this system is that you can see whether or not you have support for your points. If not, you know what to look for for evidence. If so, you know you don't have to do research on that point.

Second, each statement must contain only one piece of information or evidence. Do not use compound sentences: if a statement contains more than one piece of information or evidence it can be confusing. If the statement contains commas, colons, semicolons, the words "and", "or", "either/neither", "or/nor", "but" or any other indication that there is more than one thing to be considered in that statement, then it is wrong. For example, you would not write a statement:

A. the elements in the outline are the main points, the subpoints, the support statements, and the proofs.

Properly, it would be written:

A. list of elements in an outline

1. the main points

2. the subpoints

3. the support statements

4. the proofs

Note that there is only one piece of information per outline division. Had I further further support for each point it would be placed beneath each point. For example, an outline for what I wrote above might be:

A. Construction of a work

1. divided in three parts

2. Introduction

a. tells the audience what you are going to tell them

1. gets their attention

2. does not contain evidence

3. does contain preview of main points

b. leads into the body

You may also notice that the outline above does not contain the actual words I used to discuss the points I made. For example, the outline statement "divided into three parts," makes no mention of Gaul. What I am saying is that the words you use in the outline may or may not be the actual words you use in your speech or paper. The outline is a guide to the organization and information you intend to impart, not a word-for-word listing of your work. Do not write a paper and then divide the sentences into outline form. Write the outline and from that write your speech or paper. Consider it a blueprint: it is not the building, it is the plan for constructing the building. It does not contain the bricks and mortar, the steel and conduiting. It does contain where the steel and conduiting and bricks and mortar are to be placed.

Finally, notice in the format listing above that there is a minimum of two statements per level, i.e., if there is a subpoint there is at least two, if there is one piece of support there is at least two, if there is one piece of proof there is at least two. Two is not the maximum (there can be twenty if you wish) but it is the minimum. There is a reason for this. If you only have one subpoint for a main point (or support for a subpoint, or proof for a support), it is the main point (or subpoint or support or proof, etc.). Nothing can support itself (attempting to do so is called begging the question or circular argument). Thus, if you only have one statement in a level, you have two choices: 1) eliminate it as unnecessary to the outline, or 2)move it up one level and proceed from there. If you don't, you haven't derived the general principle it represents.

Which brings me to the last general comment I have to make about the elements in an outline. All elements go from the most general to the most specific things you can say about your topic. Thus, once you have your topic, the main points are the most general things you can say about it. The subpoints are the most general things you can say about each main point. The supports are the most general things you can say about each subpoint. Etc., etc., etc. Eventually, of course, you will be specific (if you don't, you aren't proving your points). However, specific evidence should not appear until a level no higher than the support statements.

An explanation of each element is appropriate at this point. The main points, which always receive a Roman numeral (I, II, III, IV, etc.), are the most general things you can say about your topic. You might liken them to a subheading in a paper. The statements used for main points are guides to what information you intend to impart to your reader or listener. You may or may not use the exact words in the main points. However, they must say what part of your topic you intend to cover in this part of your paper. For example, the main point of this section of this chapter would be:

I. An explanation of the levels of an outline.

The sub points, which always get a capital letter (A, B, C, etc.), are the most general things you intend to cover about the main point they are directly under. They could be the equivilent of topic sentences in a paragraph. For example, the sub points for the above main point would be:

I. An explanation of the levels of an outline.

A. What are main points?

B. What are sub points?

C. What are support statements?

Support statements are the actual meat of the information you intend to impart. You place them directly under the subpoint to which they relate. Also, as with main points and sub points, list them from the most general to the most specific thing you can say. For example, the support statements at this point would be:

I. An explanation of the levels of an outline.

A. What are main points?

B. What are sub points?

C. What are support statements?

1. they are the actual information.

2. you place them directly under the proper subpoint. 3. they go from general to specific.

4. give example.

a. main point

b. sub points

c. support statements

d. support statements for "C. What are support statements?"

Please note support statement 4. above. Below it are more specific pieces of information about how to give the example. That is what I mean by going from general to specific. Had I further things more specific to say about 4,a. main point, it would have gone directly under 4,a.

Method of Outlining

Creating an outline can be very easy, once you understand the technique. It's done in stages, not all at one time. In addition, ituses brainstorming to show what you already know about the topic and what you have to find out.

The first stage is to brainstorm the main points. They are the most general things you can think of about your topic, and must support your specific purpose. Do not bother to organize the points you come up with, nor try to find sub points--that comes later. For now, just think up main points. Write them down, without Roman numerals, on separate file cards or on sheets of paper. Put no more than two points per sheet to leave room for further work. (Naturally, the easiest way to outline is use a computer with an outlining feature such as in the Microsoft Word program. It takes care of all the mechanics and lets you do the thinking.)

Let us take the topic from above: "I will prove the space program has created many of the technological wonders to today." Brainstorming main points, I came up with:

  • Technology developed for the space program.
  • Space technology used in everyday life.
  • Arguments against the space program.
  • Arguments shooting down arguments against the space program.

Note that these main points are in no particular order, nor do they contain any of the information I mean to deliver. They are only the most general things I'm going to discuss in my paper to prove my specific purpose.

Organizing the Outline

Now you can organize the points. The organization depends on what you wish to accomplish. The two major forms of communication are to inform or to pursuade. Each has ways of organizing how to deliverinformation to accomplish a goal. Your specific purpose will help you to decide which organizational scheme you should employ. If it contains explain, instruct, or any synonym you're being informative. If it contains convince, persuade, prove, argue or any synonym you're trying to persuade. Don't mix them up: your information may be the same in either case, but your specific purpose determines your organization.

The following discussion is of organizational strategies used to put your main points in an order that will achieve your specific purpose. The first section is how to organize your points if you wish to inform, the second section if you wish to persuade.

To Inform

An informative paper or speech is the five Ws (and one H) well known to reporters:

  • Who someone is or does something.
  • What something is.
  • Where something is.
  • When something happened, occurs, or will happen
  • How something happens.
  • Why something is, does, or happens.

None of these requires convincing your audience, only that you have information that they should or would like to have. If you have to convince your audience that your information is the correct information, or that your way of looking at it is the proper way to look at it, you're trying to persuade, not inform. There are five basic ways to organize how to impart information to tell others about your topic:

  1. 1) order of importance.
  2. 2) chronologically.
  3. 3) spatially.
  4. 4) causally.
  5. 5) topically.

The topic of your speech or paper will often dictate which order you will finally decide to use. As an illustration I will use the topic "Technology derived from the space program", and show main points in each order.

Order of Importance

Order of importance calls for an executive decision: what main point is relatively more important than another? The answer will depend on the topic you've chosen to discuss and the main points you wish to cover. For the example "Technology derived from the space program," my main points could be:

  • Electronics derived from the space program.
  • Medical advances derived from the space program.
  • Communications technology derived from the space program.
  • Materials derived from the space program.

At this point I would decide which point I feel is more important and/or less important than the others. Here the audience to whom I'm going to give my information can help in making the decision. If speaking to electrical engineers the most important could be electronics: to communications specialists, communications technology: to medical personnel, medical advances: to material scientists or engineers, materials derived. To a general audience look at the situation: do they seem most interested in health, or television, or telephones, or computers, or . . .. In any case, my knowledge of the audience will help me decide order.

Also, there are two ways of placing points in order of importance: from most to least important, or from least to most. My personal preference is least to most important. The reason for this is simple: if early in your presentation you cover what is most interesting or important to the audience, then everything that follows is less interesting, less important, and thus less likely to have close attention paid. If, however, you build toward what is most important to the audience, they are more likely to pay close attention throughout.

Chronological Order

You use chronological order to put your information in order in time: what happens first, then second, then third, and so on. For example, the main points might be:

  • Advances in electronic components.
  • Advances in miniaturization.
  • Computers in the home.

Note how these occur in order: first the invention of electronic components that got away from the delicate, heavy parts. Then the parts were miniaturized for use in space. Then these parts were put together to allow computers in the home, rather than requiring an air conditioned gymnasium to hold it.

Don't get the sequence mixed up. If your topic is the formation of black holes, Don't start with the nova; start with the main sequence star. When showing how things change through time, mixing up the order mixes up the audience. They not only don't know what you're trying to show, they think you're too dumb to get it right.

Spatial Order

Yes, that's how it's spelled, even though it's pronounced spacial. It does refer to space--the order in which things occur as they move fromone space to the next. The order is often also chronological, but the emphasis is less on when something occurs, as where it occurs. For the space program example, my main points might be:

  • Technology on the ground.
  • Technology in orbit.
  • Technology on the Moon.
  • Technology to the stars.

Notice how each point moves from one space (no pun intended) to another: Earth, above Earth, Moon, beyond the Moon. When these technologies are used is not important: where they are used is.

Again, don't mix them up: lead the audience along a road to your conclusion. Don't jump from one place to another without a map. When you drive from New York City to Chicago, you don't go to Akron, then Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, Springfield, Chicago; the proper route is New York to Pittsburgh to Akron to Springfield to Fort Wayne to Chicago (if you don't believe this, look at a map). Pick out a route and stick to it.

Causal Order

Causal order is cause and effect: event A occurs which causes event B which causes event C, and so on. The causal order of organizing main points can be dangerous, so be careful. Be certain that event A actually causes event B. False cause and effect has ruined many good ideas: remember the woman on the Titanic. She hit the light switch in her cabin the same moment the ship struck the iceberg. For the rest of her life, she was certain that the disaster was her fault: if she hadn't turned off her lights, the ship would never have sunk. Always bear in mind the axiom: Washing your car does not make it rain. For the space example, main points in causal order could be:

  • Nazi use of rockets as weapons.
  • German rocket scientists in the US and USSR.
  • Von Braun's applications of German rocket science to the US space program.

Here each point was the cause of the next. I don't mention Robert Goddard's rockets or Tsiolikovsky's pioneering work because neither was a direct cause of any of the above points. Therefore, I leave them out of the order. Again, I caution you to examine each point if you wish to use causal order. If it would simply be nice to include one, chose a different organizational scheme.

Topic Order

Topic order is the organization to use if none of the others seem to apply to your main points: none is really any more important than any other, there is no particular time sequence, they don't move from one place to another, and none is the cause of another.

The sequence of main points in topic order is arbitrary but not random. You must decide. Base your decision on some criteria. Possibilities are what will most firmly hold the audience's attention, does one point lead naturally into the next, what is the last point you wish to make.

The last is often the best place to start. The point that you most wish the audience to remember should be the last point you make. That one will not be overlaid and thus possibly confused by new information. Think of walking through a forest. As you leave an open glade more and more trees get in the way until you can't see the glade anymore. The same principle applies to giving information to an audience. Don't put too many trees betweenwhat you most want them to know and the last thing you tell them.

To Persuade

You'll often need to convince your audience to accept your opinion about something as the correct way to view it. The three possible propositions that you may wish your audience to accept are:

  1. 1) proposition of fact.
  2. 2) proposition of value.
  3. 3) proposition of policy.

Use a proposition of fact when you have a way of looking at facts and wish the audience to share your view. For example, Christopher Columbus had a proposition of fact. He thought the world was round and it was possible to reach China by sailing west rather than sailing east around Africa. He wished Ferdinand and Isabella to accept his view about the world's size and shape so they would pay for his expedition. They accepted his view, paid for the expedition, and proved he was wrong.

A proposition of value is one in which you wish the audience to accept your moral or ethical values. Religious leaders, prohibitionists, pro-life and pro-choice advocates and others all have values that they wish their audiences to share, ways in which they wish their audiences to think, feel, or behave, and their arguments reflect it.

Use a proposition of policy when you have an idea of what people should do about something: disarmament, nuclear power and/or waste, gun control, etc. You design your arguments to make your audience agree that your way is the best way to solve some problem. You will, of course, use evidence to prove your opinions. However, how you organize that evidence can strongly affect how your audience will view and accept or reject it. There are four basic ways to organize your main points to increase the likelihood of the audience accepting your evidence. They are:

  1. 1) Problem-Solution
  2. 2) Motivated Sequence
  3. 3) Deductive Order
  4. 4) Inductive Order


The problem-solution order is obvious: you tell the audience about a problem, then give what you believe would solve that problem. This seems very simple, but actually the problem-solution order is often the most difficult for people to grasp and use effectively. Many people have difficulty with the problem-solution order. They often mix bits and pieces of their solution in with the discussion of the problem. Actually, you must keep problem and solution separate and distinct.

The problem could be likened to a doctor confronted with a disease and treating each symptom as he meets it, rather than examining each symptom, determining what disease causes this particular set of symptoms, and then treating the disease. If a doctor only treated each symptom as encountered, the patient could die. For example, take these symptoms--high fever, lower right abdomen hard and tender, nausea. The doctor can fight the fever with an antipyretic, the pain with a purgative and pain-killer, the nausea with antiemetics. The patient will feel better. The patient will also die of a ruptured appendix and/or peritonitis. Any doctor will be certain what the disease is before he or she tries to cure it. The same principle applies to the problem-solution order.

Organize your main points so they first clearly explain the problem. You can present it using one of the informative organizations. You can explain it symptom by symptom, step by step, how the problem has got worse through time, has moved and spread. In addition, by your choice of words you can make the problem seem particularly awful (see Chapter 7--"The Power of Words"). However you do it make the problem clear to the audience, without giving your solution or even parts of your solution. Remember the doctor--if you treat your symptoms as you come to them, your argument could die.

Only once the problem is clear should you present your solution. It is advisable to follow the same format in presenting your solution as you used in presenting the problem. If you've given the symptoms of the disease, explain how your treatment will cure each symptom. There are two ways to give your evidence:

  1. 1) give your solution, then explain it point by point showing how it solves the problem.
  2. 2) go through your plan point by point and then give the audience the solution.

The first is effective if you feel your solution requires explanation so the audience can understand it clearly. Let us assume, for example, that the problem is a weak tax base in your state. You explain the problem:

  • the basis for taxes are on gasoline, tobacco, alcohol, B&O, and sales tax;
  • that it puts an unfair or discriminatory burden on certain segments of the population--those that drive, or smoke, or drink, or make large purchases;
  • that it's too unstable, dependent as it is on individual behavior, and that if the individual stops driving or smoking or drinking or buying, the tax base shrinks.

Let us also assume that your solution could start with, "The only way to solve this problem is to institute a state income tax." You then go on to explain how this solution would negate the problems in the current tax plan and make everyone happy. The second, giving the elements of your solution before actually stating it, is useful if the audience may find your solution unpopular. If the audience understands how it solves all the elements of the problem first (that each element requires that something specific occurs) they are more likely to accept your solution. Let us take a ludicrous example: the problem is what to do about endangered species, in particular the bald eagle. You explain how the number of eagles is dropping, how they are constantly in danger of extinction, etc. Then you begin your solution by talking about animals that are not in danger of extinction (sheep, cows, chickens), because people make money by raising them. Most your audience would agree that such animals are not in danger of disappearing. Finally, you present your solution: make bald eagles a food animal, like chickens and turkeys. When people can make money raising them, they'll multiply like--well, chickens. Had you started your solution by saying, "I propose we eat eagles," the audience would be unlikely to give you much of a hearing, if they didn't start throwing things at your head for such a disgusting proposal. However you decide to present your evidence, present all of the problem, without any of your solution, before presenting your solution.

Motivated Sequence

The purpose of the motivated sequence is to get your audience to do something. To accomplish this it follows five steps:

  1. 1) Attention
  2. 2) Need
  3. 3) Satisfaction
  4. 4) Visualization
  5. 5) Action

1) Attention

This step, as the name implies, is getting the attention of the audience. If the audience is not listening, you cannot influence their actions. Thus you must get their attention. There are any number of ways to get attention. You could, of course, simply set off a cannon. That would, believe me, get an audience's attention. It would also probably precipitate actions that you don't want, such as a mad rush for the door. Therefore a more subtle approach might be advisable.

The first paragraph, sentence, or even word can get the attention of an audience. For example, you could start with "Rape." This short, plosive, emotion-laden word immediately attracts attention. An opening sentence could be "Death is a part of life."

An opening paragraph could be:

"The space program? What's it ever done for me? What good is it?" Many people have been and are asking these questions and others just like them. Their feeling is, "It's a waste of money -- spend it on people, not machines." What they don't realize is the money is spent on people, not machines, and not just double-domed scientists staring at stars. The benefits that have come from the space program, either indirectly or directly, are more far-reaching and consequential than any social program ever begun by the government.

In any case, once you have the attention of your audience you can then go on to the next step.

2) Need

In the "Need" step you outline your problem, exactly as you would in a Problem-Solution organization. Again, be sure you don't provide solutions while discussing the problem, and through word choice make the problem seem particularly awful. Once the problem is clear, go on to the next step.

3) Satisfaction

In this step you explain your solution, as in the Problem-Solution organization. By word choice you can remove any doubts that your solution solves the problem you discussed in the "Need" section.

The following two parts of the Motivated Sequence are where it truly parts from Problem-Solution: Visualization and Action.

4) Visualization

Visualization is painting a word picture of the future if someone implements your solution. For example, if your topic is to persuade your audience to support research in fusion (as opposed to fission) power, your visualization could include plentiful power, cheap power, clean non-radioactive nonpolluting power, leading to a world in which everyone benefits.

A clear visualization of how everything improves if your solution is implemented increases the impact of your arguments.

5) Action

Action is the final step in the Motivated Sequence. Up to this point you have been motivating your audience, getting their attention, showing them how hopeless the problem is, providing a perfect solutionto the problem, and showing how wonderful the world will be once someone implements your solution.

At this point you need to get the audience doing something to carry out your solution. That is Action. Tell them what they need to do. It could be sign a petition, write or call someone, enroll, enlist, whatever it is that the audience must do to achieve your Visualization.

Deductive Order

When you use Deductive Order, you organize the main points so they support your proposition. (For an discussion of deduction, see Chapter 6, THE PROCESS OF THINKING, in the section Solutions to Problems with Thinking, Analytical Skills.)

The first step is to tell the audience what it is you want them to accept. For example, your proposition might be that the theory of evolution is correct, or that creationism is correct. Once you have made clear what your contention is, then you proceed to prove it, point by point. You can organize the points using one of the informative orders.

Inductive Order

Inductive order is useful when you want to withhold your proposition until your audience has the necessary evidence to accept it. Some contentions are simply too outre, simple or controversial for people to accept. They need enough background to make them willing to listen, much less agree. The proposition might be against common sense, common decency, societal mores, morals, or any other way people think the world should be. When such is the case, it is often better to give your audience the background, evidence, or information before telling them what it all adds up to--your proposition.

Let's take another ludicrous example. Your proposition is using cannibalism to reduce world hunger. If you told your audience at the outset that that is your idea, they would immediately stop listening. However, if you work your way to the proposition by discussing world hunger and overpopulation and have them agreeing that the two problems are overwhelming, they are more amenable to solving both problems with the same solution--feed the excess people to the starving people. Jonathan Swift used much the same organization in his "Modest Proposal".

Once again, organization of the main points can be in an informative order, whichever one fits what you are trying to prove.

Which of the four organizational strategies for persuasion you elect to use is not really an arbitrary decision. As you recall, there are three possible basic propositions: fact, value, and policy. In general, it is advisable to use problem-solution or the motivated sequence when your proposition is one of policy. Use deductive or inductive order for propositions of fact or value. This advisory is only a guide, however. For example, you may wish to use the motivated sequence with a proposition of value when you want the audience actually to do something rather than simply accept your values.


To merely possess knowledge is not enough. You must also be able to communicate that knowledge to others. Through the use of organization and planning, what you know can be given to others with a minimum of time, effort and pain.

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