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How you can be more persuasive when “debating” with others.

I just heard an interesting “debate” on the radio.

One speaker read a long list of points very quickly.

The opposing “debater” spoke more slowly, made fewer points – but made the points more memorable.

In my professional opinion I thought the second speaker was more memorable and persuasive.

I was very interested because I am currently helping an Australian political candidate.

I won’t say who it is – but “debating” skills are so important – whether you are a political candidate or trying to persuade others in business.

Now when I say “debating skills” I’m not talking the formal and orderly “school debating” style – but the more modern, shorter style appealing to an everyday audience.


I’m an Australian who lived and studied in the US where training political candidates in persuasion skills is a big industry.

In the US, the modern “debate” is more loosely defined as anytime two candidates argue different views. It doesn’t have to be on a TV debate or a formal debate in a venue. It can be expressing a view in 30 seconds.

Anyway, my main point to you is:

Don’t just read a list of arguments.

From my experience – it works much better to deliver fewer points at a measured pace with pauses.


Also, work harder to make points more relevant and real and memorable to your audience.

Now, in my opinion the radio debate was light and fun – mainly to kick off a lively discussion generate listeners calling in to give their views on an “issue”.

The debate was: IT IS BETTER TO MEET A PARTNER ON-LINE rather than in a PUB or CLUB.

Yes, a light topic – but relevant to the target audience.

I can’t remember any of what the first speaker said – except that the speaker read a list of reasons very quickly and still didn’t get them all in during the 30 seconds they had to make the points.

The second speaker (arguing that meeting in a pub or club was better than “meeting” on-line) made a point memorable by crafting a short, memorable one-liner that captured the longer message that in a pub you could experience what people are really like rather than the false representations often made on-line.

It helps to state your argument AND then give the good “one-liner” that sums it up in one line.

One-liner is a political term – not in this case a joke that can be delivered in one line!

A good one-liner is one that your audience can remember and even repeat.

The one-liner the speaker used was in my opinion effective. I can remember AND REPEAT it (well, approximately)


(For overseas readers – a PASH is a KISS!)

US experts helping political candidates recommend that candidates have “Issue Cards” that include:

1.a brief summary of an issue
2.key statistics
3.brief anecdotes AND
4.memorable one-liners that sum up a point in a more memorable way

I know that crafting one-liners can sound really superficial – but the US exerts argue that most voters are so busy with their lives that they don’t have time to study an issue in depth.

It’s more about making your message memorable.

Now I know Australians generally are not as impressed by the US style political election style – with flowery oratory and Obama-style tri-colons in parallel structure. (I’m a real word nerd for this stuff). Many Australians prefer a more down-to-earth style.

word nerd CU

I often advise Australian candidates and politicians and business leaders to use tried and tested rhetorical techniques – but to “dial it back a bit” for Australian audiences. Don’t be as extreme or over the top as US politicians and candidates.


So the next time you are in a “debate” – don’t just read a list of arguments.  Take the time to craft a one-liner that makes your message memorable. Sometimes a one-liner is also called a tagline which condenses and crystalises a longer conceptual message into a memorable sentence.

For more See :tagline



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I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious business communication tips.


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These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication, better social media engagement etc. I like to help people COPE.






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This entry was posted on August 27, 2014 by in Uncategorized.
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