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Different Ways of Presenting an Argument

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

Structure is essential for any type of communication. This lesson discusses the strategies one can use for structuring writing in order to present a strong argument.

Presenting an Argument

All writing has a goal. It might be to entertain, to express feelings, to inform, or a number of other purposes. Another of those objectives might be to outline an argument, which uses information on a specified topic with the goal of persuading others to believe or support the idea. When writing any type of persuasive piece, you need to choose an appropriate method for presenting your information. Let's look at several options you have for structuring an argument.

Topical Strategy

A topical strategy is one way to present your material. In this method, you order your information by matter of relevance or importance in regards to current events.

Imagine you are writing an argument either in support of or against the importance of religion in the government of the United States. If you structure your piece topically, you will begin with the issues that are currently impacting society. For instance, two controversial issues right now are same-sex marriage and the abortions occurring at Planned Parenthood. Start your writing discussing these issues in relation to religion and our government. Then, move onto other issues that might not be as relevant today, but still support your argument. An example could be the scandal involving child-molestation in the Catholic Church from the early 2000s. Write your whole argument going from most relevant to least.

A topical structure for your argument can be a very effective method. This is due to the fact that you begin with the ideas and issues that are currently in the news. People are always more interested in what is going on right now.

Chronological Order

A second method is to structure your argument in chronological order, or order of sequence of time.

To use this method, begin your argument at the earliest time frame that makes sense to do so. For example, if you were aiming to persuade your reader that women have been stuck in stereotypical roles in literature, look for examples from the earliest recorded written works. One of the oldest works of English literature is the epic poem Beowulf, which details the life of a warrior king. If you can find an example from this poem that supports your argument, begin with this support. Then, move into any examples from writings from the Middle Ages, like Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Next, you can look for examples from the works of William Shakespeare. Advance your argument as you advance in time, with your final examples coming from works of fiction written recently.

Chronological order can also be a very effective strategy. By ordering your examples and main ideas following the sequence of time, you will be stressing how your main point has persisted through history, which in turn emphasizes the importance of your argument.

Strongest-Weakest

The next strategy you can use to structure an argument is strongest-weakest. For this method, begin with the strongest point of your argument and end with your weakest.

Imagine you are writing a persuasive essay with the goal of arguing that stem cell research is the future of modern medicine. When using the strongest-weakest format, begin with your strongest support. This might be the medical research you have found where stem cells have cured patients from disease. From here, you would move onto your lesser reasons.

This method also has its advantages. Oftentimes, people tend to remember the first detail mentioned in an argument. Thus, you could make a better impression by beginning with your strongest reasons. In addition, if you end with your weaker points, you can always relate those ideas back to your stronger point. This way, you are constantly reminding your reader of your best support for your argument.

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