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February 2005 - The Pro/Con Organization Pattern

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John Kline, PhD, inspirational and motivational keynote and after-dinner speaker and corporate trainer.February 2005

The Pro/Con Organization Pattern

Speeches are organized in different ways depending on the topic and the objective of the speaker. Common ways include organizing main points by time, space, topic, or by using the problem/solution or cause/effect patterns of organization. But an effective way to organize some speeches is the pro/con pattern where the speaker speaks on both sides of an issue.

Consider the following things when using the pro/con pattern of organization:

  1. Giving both sides fairly even emphasis is effective when neither side has a clear advantage. You simply want listeners to have all the facts so they can make their own decision. For example, a company offers new employees a choice between two health insurance plans. Current employees are equally split—half favoring one company, half favoring the other.
  2. Giving both sides equal emphasis also works well when the weight of evidence is clearly on the side you favor. In other words, you will be perceived as giving a fair representation of each side, yet after hearing both sides, listeners will most likely make the choice you want them to make.
  3. Presenting both sides is most effective when listeners may be initially opposed to your position or side. This way, you in effect, disarm listeners by showing them that you understand their current way of thinking.
  4. Presenting the favored side first is most effective if the subject is unfamiliar to the listeners, provided you make a strong case for the first side, and spend less time and make a less appealing case for the second side. A salesman once said, "Whoever gets there the firstest with the mostest gets the sale."
  5. Presenting the favored side last may make its acceptance more likely, especially if the other side is shown in a less favorable light. For example while presenting the least favored side, the speaker is careful to communicate the downside or shortfalls—the weaknesses.

As always, know your audience. Whatever organizational pattern you use, organize with the listeners in mind. 

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

February 2005 - The Pro/Con Organization Pattern
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