II. Organizing Your Presentation
[The following material is presented here, with
permission, from the Center for Bioethical Reform. Priests for Life is grateful
to the authors, Gregg Cunningham and Scott Klusendorf.]
* Essential Questions
* How to Organize
I. Essential Questions to Ask Prior
A. Who is my audience?
What goal should I have for this audience?
What about the particulars?
A. Who is my audience?
1. Failure to ask this question can result in disaster. A presentation
entitled, "Abortion and the Bible" that received rave reviews from your Sunday
school class will go down in flames if offered to a philosophy class at UCLA. If
your audience is made up of junior high church kids, a rambling monologue on the
theme, "The Theological Case Against Prenatal Injustice" might not work as well
as a talk titled "How Christian Teens Can Stop the Killing."
2. Critical factors to consider when evaluating your audience:
*Will my audience be composed primarily of neutrals, pro- lifers or abortion
*Will my audience be mostly Christian? If so, how likely are they to accept the
What prior teaching has my audience had on the issue? (i.e. how much do
they likely know about the issue. If you can't find out, assume they know
*If a Christian audience, what (if anything) are they doing behaviorally
to stop the killing? (i.e. are they involved with their local CPC, Life Chain,
*Age of the audience: Will it be composed mostly of teens, collegians, young
marrieds, singles, or seniors?
B. What goal should I have for this audience?
1. Review of speaking goals for each audience:
* Abortion advocates:
defang / neutralize them
convert them to our view
activate them. Get them to do something.
help them work smarter
2. What to focus on with each audience:
Pro-abortion: employ reasonable shock to make your audience more
receptive to your talk. Discuss abortion in its grossest terms. Examples
--The reality of fetal pain / Partial birth abortion
--The abortion / breast cancer link
--How abortion is legal through all nine months
--How clinics legally withhold informed consent
--How 10 week developing baby girls will be killed in utero so that their
ovaries can be harvested
Neutrals. Focus on how we are becoming a nation of quitters (i.e.
abortion is a symptom of a much deeper problem--our unwillingness to assume
responsibility for the resolution of difficult life problems). Attack heavily
the idea that an individual can be "personally opposed to abortion" and yet want
it to remain legal anyway. (Try this: "I'm personally opposed to rape, but if
you want to do it, I won't force my morality...")
Converts. For Christian audiences, demonstrate that it is not
enough to be attitudinally against abortion without being behaviorally
against abortion. Show how our duty to love our neighbor is never a feeling, but
Activists. Stress how we are losing this fight because we lack an
overarching strategic plan that gives meaning to all the pro-life activity we
do. Attack the selfishness inherent in most pro-life groups (i.e. refusing to
share mailing lists, work together, etc.). Challenge them to go through "big
picture" training so that everyone in the pro-life community can share a common
C. What about the particulars?
1. How much time do I have to speak?
2. Will anyone else be speaking? If so, who?
3. Have I been asked to speak on a specific aspect of abortion?
4. Does the facility have a good sound system?
5. Is a good, large screen video monitor available? (Note: it's best
to have your own. Call CBR for details.)
Big picture= big impact/ small picture = small impact.
II. How to Organize
Material for a Pro-life Presentation
A. Step #1: Brainstorm for
#2: Choose a central theme
#3: Propositional statement
#4: Develop the rationale for your propositional statement
1. The best way to do this is to grab a cup of coffee (or
go for a jog) to get the mental juices flowing. Ask yourself, "What do I want my
audience to know about abortion when I am through speaking?" 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
A. Step #1: Brainstorm for ideas!
Which of these has you fit to be tied? If you were a newscaster and had 40
minutes to clear up lies, what would you say to your audience? 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!
B. Step #2: Choose a central theme
1. 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:
Abortion and Teens
Abortion and Politics
Abortion and the Church
Abortion and Breast Cancer
Abortion: Lies and Distortions
Abortion and Public Health
Abortion and the Clergy
Abortion and RU 486
Abortion and Fetal Tissue Research
Abortion and the Struggle to Define Legal Personhood
2. It is, of course, OK 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.
C. Step #3: Write a clear propositional statement
1. Now that you have chosen a central theme, it's time to determine
exactly what you hope to communicate with your presentation. Ask yourself, "What
point do I want to drive home with my audience? What actions do I want them to
take as the result of hearing my talk?
2. This will drive you to drink, but it's absolutely essential. A propositional
statement 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 your speech at the last
3. The following are some possible propositional statements for the theme,
"Abortion and Christian Teens":
* "Christian teens can help stop the killing"
* "Christian teens should help stop the killing"
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
D. Step #4: Develop the rationale for your propositional
1. 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"
*By helping their friends see the humanity of the unborn child and the
inhumanity of abortion
*By helping their friends see that abortion is short term gain / long term pain
*By making a commitment to live sexually pure
*By helping a friend with a crisis pregnancy
*By taking a stand for the unborn on campus
2. 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? 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 of this sort will add spice to
your presentation and help provide the hard-hitting content you need to make it
4. Finally, 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
help unmask the Planned Parenthood lie."
Your presentation will have a razor sharp focus if you:
--Brainstorm for ideas
--Choose a central theme
--Write a good propositional statement
--Develop the rationale to back up your statement
For an excellent discussion on organizing material, see Ken Davis's book,
How to Speak to Youth / Group Books, 1986)
Public Speaking on Abortion