Further background information on the seminar topic "Argumentation Training and Persuasion Technique"

Unfortunately, there is no basic rhetorical training embedded in the school curriculum. This basic training could give many people a new perspective in terms of their own self presentation and impact on others.

There are also some degree programmes where oral examinations or defence of the thesis are not planned in very much or even not at all. This form of examination is actually a good method to train yourself in your presentation technique and to practice the use of rhetorical devices. Particularly in technical and scientific professions it can happen that there is hardly any room for practising rhetorical speech in presentations. The focus here is often on researching material factors. Nevertheless, it is of course possible to practice the art of rhetoric. For example, one can take the great models of Greek and Roman antiquity as role models - the great artists in dealing with rhetoric. In the course of professional life, practice offers you an invaluable advantage: the technique of speaking can be mastered! Often the question after ‘How do I talk?’ can have a decisive influence on how persuasive expert knowledge comes across.

  • Definitions
  • Facts
  • Data

often form part of a lecture. Here it is important to find a good balance, otherwise they can be experienced as disruptive factors by the listener. This information must therefore be skillfully contextualized so that it convinces the listener.

  • Proximity and distance​​​​​​​
  • Changes of perspective​​​​​​​
  • Authenticity​​​​​​​
  • Awareness
  • Language

are the key competencies for effective persuasion. Only a sense of appropriate closeness and distance can open up the space for a dialogue. People who lean too far forwards or backwards can send false signals about their relationship with the other person. It is important to understand the perspective of the other person in order to be able to get in genuine contact with them. In terms of closeness and distance, he/she can serve as your role model.

But changing perspective can do much more. Through it the interlocutors can understand the basis of the other’s argumentation and respond to each other accordingly. Those who insist only on their own position here will meet with resistance or rejection. In order to convince, it makes sense to start with the other person’s perspective: “I can understand, …”

TIP: As an expert in your subject area, you have already acquired a certain knowledge. When talking to people from other departments, it is therefore important not to appear arrogant. Openness to other topics shows your interest and gives your conversation partner a feeling of safety. Only on this basis can you then dare to ask about more difficult aspects.

Being authentic is very important in persuasion. People react to the smallest signals from the other and therefore it is important to feel secure in one’s own point of view. Authenticity can be disrupted by stress. It is therefore important to allow time for mental preparation before every meeting.

TIP: As petty as this sounds, a good handshake tells the other person what kind of person you are and whether you feel comfortable in a conversation situation. Ask people around you how your handshake affects them.

What the above-mentioned key competencies have in common is awareness. In routine conversations, it can happen that you conduct the conversation “on the side”. Without attentive behaviour, important information can get lost or your counterpart does not feel taken seriously. It is therefore important to pay attention to what your counterpart says and also to their gestures and facial expressions.

Speech is not only about sound, but also about gestures and facial expressions. Body language can transmit a lot and a feeling of rapport is also conveyed through facial expressions and gestures. Friendliness and seriousness are the basis for convincing arguments in conversation.

These key competencies can be very helpful and decisive in a conversation where your aim is to convince. In order to promote a project or an idea, it is therefore necessary to pay attention not only to the advantages of the product but also to one’s own presence and way of speaking. In order to be able to present arguments, rhetorical skills are required - in the choice of words, sentence structure, linguistic images, voice and body language. If there is a congruence between the person and their effect here, one is able to radiate a great deal of persuasive power.

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