To achieve Step 14, individuals will show that they can be selective in how they use examples and facts to better persuade their listeners.
In the previous step, the focus was on how to be influential, and how to change the structure of points in response to listeners. This step builds closely on this by focusing on how to change examples and facts that are used to better persuade listeners.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
In the previous step, we explored what it means to be influential for an audience – that is, to change the views or actions of a listener through how you speak with them.
Stories are an essential way that humans take on board information – it seems to be a way that we are hardwired to make sense of the world. In contrast, we are very poor at remembering unstructured pieces of information. Examples are a great way of bringing storytelling into our speaking by providing a narrative that people can follow.
On a related note, examples can bring about an emotional engagement with the idea. It is telling that charity fundraising campaigns normally focus on the case of a particular individual and how their life is affected by a problem, rather than talking in conceptual terms about the issue, or just giving the facts. Examples can build empathy if they link to an experience that the individual listening has had or can imagine.
Finally, examples can also be compelling for helping to bring a conceptual idea to life and turning it into something tangible. While it can be interesting to talk about concepts and big ideas, there is often a gap between this thinking and tangible action. Example help to turn a big idea into something concrete that then lends itself to taking action.
Facts are a critical piece of influence, because when used well, they help to prove the case that is being made. They are the pieces of truth that hold together an argument and mean that it can be believed. What we term ‘facts’ here might include:
If used effectively, facts are influential because they are difficult for individuals to argue against (either aloud or in their own minds).
However, it is important to acknowledge that where facts cannot be checked in real-time, then whether the audience trusts you will be critical. If they don’t believe what you are telling them, you are very unlikely to be able to influence them.
You should be very careful about using facts that do not seem credible – if your audience picks up on a fact that they know or feel to be false, it is undermining of your credibility as a speaker and everything else you say.
In the previous step, we explored the importance of being able to read your audience and to use this insight to adapt what you are saying to make it as influential as possible.
The same questions that we asked in the previous step as we analyse our audience can also be the basis for how we change how we bring in examples and facts.
In all of these cases, careful use of examples and facts, brought in at the right time, can help to engage a listener with your argument and influence them to reach the conclusions or take the actions that you want them to.
At school or college, you maybe required to persuade and influence others, perhaps convincing other students to vote for you in a position of responsibility, to persuade the senior leaders that a project or event should go ahead or to persuade your teacher or lecturer that you have studied your particular topic thoroughly and effectively. If you can have more facts, figures and case studies to hand than you originally plan to use then you will be able to draw on alternative material as you see the opportunity and respond to the reaction of your audience.
In the workplace, the people you are trying to persuade are likely to be familiar with your area of expertise or the theme of your conversation, for example, persuading a customer to purchase additional products or persuading your manager to amend the way items are processed. In these situations, it is particularly important that all the relevant facts, figures, examples and case studies are very familiar to you so you can use or quote them with confidence. Client or manager trust or belief will be threatened if they think what you are saying is not accurate or true.
Social conversation with friends can often involve political or social debate, in such situations it can be enjoyable or challenging to persuade or influence people. Mastery at this step will enable you to use facts, figures, examples and case studies to convince your listeners of your point. However, it will be important that the date utilised is factually correct.
Likewise, any conflict with retailers is more likely to be successful if you are capable to putting forward a convincing and persuasive case, reacting to their responses as necessary.
To best practise this step of Speaking, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!
To teach this step:
This step can be reinforced in written and verbal communication, by encouraging learners to present examples and facts at appropriate points to back up their arguments and to make them engaging and credible.
This step is best assessed through an observed activity where learners have to give a talk or presentation that encourages them to use facts and examples to back up their points. Depending on the audience reaction (which can be real, or simulated and articulated by the teacher) they should change the balance of examples and facts that they use. This activity can be reinforced by a reflection activity with the learner to gauge that they were thoughtful and deliberate in the approach they took.
This step will be relevant to those who will speak to others in order to change their sentiment towards a person, idea or proposal.
To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed by observing an individual’s performance during an observed activity:
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed by:
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including: