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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 Material

Chapter Summary

I. Essential Questions to Ask Prior to Speaking

A. Who is my audience?

B. What goal should I have for this audience?

C. 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 advocates?

*Will my audience be mostly Christian? If so, how likely are they to accept the authority of Scripture?

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 little.)

*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, etc.)

*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
* Neutrals: convert them to our view
* Converts: activate them. Get them to do something.
*Activists: 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 include:

--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 a behavior.

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 vision.

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 ideas!

B. Step #2: Choose a central theme

C. Step #3: Propositional statement

D. Step #4: Develop the rationale for your propositional statement

A. Step #1: Brainstorm for ideas!

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 media?

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 minute.)

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 propositional statement.

D. Step #4: Develop the rationale for your propositional statement

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 effective.

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."

In summary:

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


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