Facts vs Opinion
When you want to persuade you need to present both facts and opinions.
Both need to be there. Facts serve as the foundation and reference points. Opinion builds on the facts and leads them in the direction you wish to take them.
Be clear on the difference. Distinguish between them and use them wisely.
In a courtroom trial the lawyer will present a series of linked facts and then interpret those facts via expert opinion or his own opinion. The jury will reach a verdict based on their own opinions. But it all starts with proven facts. Unproven facts are simply opinions and not the foundation for a persuasive argument.
When presenting a persuasive message you need to include the relevant facts – but not all the facts. Too many facts will bore and confuse people.
Choose your facts carefully and present them clearly and confidently because your argument of opinion is based on the facts. If the facts are unproven or disbelieved your argument will fail.
The speaker mentioned that today was the birthday of Elvis (primary reference point fact). He then went on to add stats about the growth of Elvis impersonators since the death of Elvis (secondary reference point fact). He next compared the money earned by these impersonators versus the original (tertiary fact).
His conclusion was that it was more important for people to be an original instead of a copy (opinion).
It looked like a good use of fact-linking to support his opinion – except for one thing. One audience member pointed out that today’s date was August 16 – the anniversary of the death of Elvis; the birth date was January 8. The primary factual reference point of the speaker’s argument was wrong. Therefore the rest of his argument was suspect. If his facts are wrong or suspect his opinion is worth very little.
Get your facts straight.
Facts by themselves often fail to persuade. It is opinion that persuades people because opinion adds relevance. To be effective build your opinion on facts. Your opinion will always appear more convincing when supported by proven fact.
The salesman repeated several times that the laptop was a good price. That was his opinion. He did not connect that to any facts. Because of this I didn’t believe him and stopped listening to everything else he said.
Some speakers mistakenly present opinion as fact. If you can’t prove it – don’t call it fact.
“In my experience” is an opinion. “Everybody knows” is not basis for a fact. Wikipedia is not a source of reliable facts.
I believe that more speakers need to distinguish their facts from their opinions and appreciate the dependant relationship between them.
When building your persuasive presentation research and clarify your facts then build your opinion on top of the facts.
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Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives.