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An argument is a claim or assertion which may be believed or disbelieved. The speaker must support such claim with reason and evidence if the listener may be expected to accept them as true.


Too often, however, speakers forget that understanding is the first step in the process of creating belief. Here is a simple design for the building of a sound argument.




EXEMPLIFY the argument (i.e., give an example of the fact or condition claimed, of the value supported, or of the likelihood of a proposed effect).

EVIDENCE the argument, citing your source of data.

EXPLICATE the argument (i.e., give a brief summary statement of the importance of the truth or your argument to your topic, purpose or objective in speaking). IN YOUR OWN WORDS


Here is a brief example of this method put to work in a speech urging tougher laws against drunk driving.


STATE   Thousands of people die needlessly on America's highways each year because of drunk driver's.


EXPLAIN              All of us have read accounts of terrible   traffic accidents caused by someone "driving while intoxicated." Sadly, many of us know someone who was killed or maimed by a driver who shouldn't have been allowed behind the wheel. When we remember that such driving is never essential to the well-being of the driver or passenger, we realize that these deaths are the cruelest or all--they are needless.


EXAMPLE            Such was the case recently reported by the Associated Press in Kentucky. Ten-year-old Teresa Wilson was riding with her mother to enroll in swimming classes for the summer. As they entered an intersection with the green light, a pickup truck travelling at an estimated 60 miles-per-hour, sped through the intersection against the light and slammed into the Wilson car. Teresa was killed instantly. Even more terribly, perhaps, her mother was only slightly injured. She is left to live out her life with the memory of that awful day. As you might expect, the police report charged the driver of the truck with "DWI"--Driving While Intoxicated.


EVIDENCE            The National Safety Council estimates that more than one-half of the nation's 55,000 annual traffic fatalities are caused in some way by drunken drivers--and those are only cases in which the use of drugs or alcohol can be proven in court.


EXPLICATION     Surely, anyone who is drinking has  no need to operate ton's of speeding machinery on the public highways. Accidents at home and on the job take enough lives each year without adding to that toll the thousands of lives lost to the careless, willfull, self-indulgent driver who drinks, drives, and kills.