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Ancient Secrets for Better Public Speaking:
Answer Counter Arguments

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This is the fourth in a series of five posts about classical techniques of rhetoric used by famed orators such as Socrates, Plato and Cicero. If you missed any in the series, you can find links near the end of this post.

RefutatioO.K. You’ve introduced yourself. You’ve laid out what you’re going to say. You’ve even discussed evidence that backs you up. You’re ready close, right?

Wrong.

Now you must go through what the classical Greek and Roman orators called the Refutatio. This is the part of your presentation where you address counter arguments, doubts and concerns.

Refutatio
For this part of the speech, you want to know what counter arguments listeners might have for what you’ve said so far, and refute them. For example,

  • If this is a job interview, you might say something like “I recognize that I do not have all the requirements of the job …”
  • If this is a presentation to convince the audience to take some action, you might say “Some may argue that …”
  • If this is a sales pitch, you might say “You have probably looked at my competitors and I recognize that they have good features to offer too …”

But, guess what? There’s a “but”! All of these counter arguments you bring up can easily be refuted. So you do just that:

  • “I recognize that I do not have all the requirements of the job … but I have experience that is similar and can be applied in this manner …”
  • “Some may argue that … but research has shown that this uses faulty logic …”
  • “You have probably looked at my competitors and I recognize that they have good features to offer too … however, they do not offer the level of customer service we do …”

So let’s sum up what we’ve covered so far. The structure of a good presentation using the classical rhetoric techniques of the Greeks and Romans is a follows:

  1. Introduce yourself as a likable authority on your topic.
  2. Tell the audience what you’re going to talk about.
  3. Lay out your facts, perspective or reasons for your position.
  4. Bring up counter arguments and refute them.

Now you’re ready to “seal the deal” and close up your presentation with the Peroratio, which I’ll discuss in my next post.

Previous Posts in this Series

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About the author

Carma Spence, The Own Your Awesome Mentor, is author of Public Speaking Super Powers. She is fiercely committed to guiding women to Owning their Awesome and turning it into a profitable business. She is masterful at helping her clients see what is possible for them and supporting them on the journey from where they are to where they want to be, releasing the Mind Goblins of self-doubt, self-sabotage and second-guessing that keep them stuck.

With 20+ years experience in marketing communications and public relations, natural intuitive skills and certification in using some of the most effective transformational coaching tools available, Carma’s mission and commitment is to unleash the inner power every woman entrepreneur possesses so they can boldly go out into the world, transforming the fabric of people’s lives in meaningful and positive ways.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Her website is CarmaSpence.com.