Episode 75: January 8, 2010
by Lisa B. Marshall
Do you want your speeches to be more interesting and credible? Up next, learn how to make your presentations more powerful by using PEP.
Make Your Points Stick with PEP (Point, Evidence, Point)
Yes, today's episode is about PEP ... but not the kind of pep you get from drinking coffee or one of those new energy drinks. Instead, I'm talking about my model that teaches speakers how to support their ideas--a model that, when followed, makes your points more interesting and credible. I call the model PEP, because it short for point, evidence, point (PEP). I first discussed it in my episode about thinking on your feet.
The idea is that whenever you make a point, you should also always provide specific support or evidence for that point. Then make the point again, but use slightly different words. A common rookie mistake is to just make a general point without the specific supporting evidence and reinforcement.
For example, the statement “Obesity is a serious problem in the United States,” is just a general claim that might lead the listener to think, “Well, what do you mean obesity is a serious problem? Why should I believe you anyway?”
An Example of Making Your Point with PEP
However, if you follow the PEP model you would say, “Obesity is a serious problem in the United States (Point). Obesity is associated with over 100,000 deaths per year (Evidence). The National Institutes of Health reported that about two-thirds of U.S. adults are obese (Point). ” By providing the specific example and reinforcement of the point, it makes your claim much stronger, more interesting, and more credible.
In this case, the example that I used was a statistic (100,000 deaths per year due to obesity). Notice that I also that I snuck in another form of evidence--expert testimony--which reinforced the point. I didn’t just say that two-thirds of adults are obese; I referred to the expertise of the National Institutes of Health.
Make Your Point with an Appeal to Logic, Emotion, & Character
The way you appeal to logic, emotion, and character is through various forms of evidence.
In general, statistics tend to appeal to listeners who prefer to rely on logic, facts, and evidence. However, long ago, Aristotle pointed out that we often need more than just appeals to logic. We also need appeals to emotion and appeals to character.
So let’s say your goal is to get funding for an onsite fitness center. You might try to instill fear by saying, “Obesity has overtaken smoking as the leading cause of premature heart attacks.” With that example, you’d kill two birds with one stone—it’s an appeal that is both emotional and logical.
The appeal to character is more subtle. It attempts to persuade listeners based on virtue or ethics. Keeping with this same example, you might talk about how a fitness center would help reduce stress, which benefits the well-being of the entire organization.
The way you appeal to logic, emotion, and character is through various forms of evidence: statistics, analogies, stories, questions, quotations…
Make Your Point with Analogies And Comparisons
When explaining complex ideas, comparisons and analogies work really well as evidence. “Refined white sugar is like dietary crack. It rots out your teeth just like meth, only slower.” Or “Saying Splenda is made from sugar is like taking the round wheels off a car and putting on square wheels. Is it still a car? Yes. But can it still perform like a car? No -- and what's more we don't know what's going to happen when people try to drive it cross country.”
Use Stories to Make Your Point
If you are a regular reader, you already know that my favorite form of evidence is a story. Tell stories from your own life or tell a story that you read about; or tell a hypothetical story, by having your listeners imagine themselves in a particular situation. Stories let you share your connection to the topic.
Sticking with our health and nutrition theme, if I were taking about weight loss, I might talk about my personal experience with the Weights Watchers program or talk about my 88-year-old father’s experience with the same program.
Use Questions to Make Your Point
Questions can also work as evidence in the PEP model. You might start a presentation on weight loss by asking, “Do you know what your body mass index is?” Or “Which do you think is healthier: a slice of apple pie or a slice of pumpkin pie?” Or “ Which burns more calories: swimming for 20 minutes or jumping rope for five minutes?” When starting with a question, the title of the presentation usually acts as the first point, then your question is the evidence, and then you would make the point again.
Use Quotations to Make Your Point
Similarly, quotes can also work as your evidence. “To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” (La Rochefoucauld). Or Thomas Edison said, “The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” You can use quotes from literature, from research, from competitors, from newspapers, and quotes from anyone credible who might bolster your point.
If you remember only one thing from today’s show, remember to use the power of PEP to make your ideas more interesting and credible. PEP: point, evidence, point. Statistics, analogies, comparisons, stories, questions, and quotations are just a few of the forms of evidence that can appeal to logic, emotion, and character. To make your points stick, make your points, support them with a variety of evidence, and then reinforce the points again. PEP. Point, evidence, point.
This is The Public Speaker, Lisa B. Marshall. Passionate about communication, your success is my business.
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If you have a question, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about keynote speeches or workshops, visit lisabmarshall.com.
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