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Learn to debate like a politician

Dan Nix is owner of Impact

Dan Nix is owner of the consultancy firm Iimpact. He teaches managers and employers to argue just as well as politicians and often uses Dialoogle in this work.

You have probably noticed how good some politicians are at debating. Whether you agree with their policies or not, some politicians are able to get their point across better than others. An example of this is the former president of the United States, Barack Obama, who successfully set the agenda with his speeches to the nation.

In order to get a hold of as many voters as possible, the politicians make use of an argumentation method which Dan Nix calls the standard structure.

Dan Nix is owner of the consultancy firm Iimpact. He teaches managers and employers to argue just as well as politicians using the standard argumentation structure that consists of six steps:

1. Your introduction, in which you present the subject you want to address.
2. Your claim, in which you state your opinion.
3. Your arguments, explaining why you think the way you do.
4. Examples that make your argumentation come alive and convince your audience.
5. Addressing objections from the audience.
6. Your conclusion that supports your claim.

“This structure will not be an effective argumentation tool until you have internalized it as a reflex that you don’t even need to think about. When teaching people to respond to anything, I always start with a random Dialoogle picture card that they don’t know in advance. The picture enables people to find a topic to talk about in an instant, and that is important. Without the picture inspiration, you can easily come to a standstill, and that must not happen,” Dan Nix says.

After you have finished your argumentation, it is the examples in particular that your audience will remember. Therefore, it is crucial that the examples create captivating images in the minds of your audience. In the training, the Dialoogle picture cards can give inspiration to different and unexpected examples, which will convince the audience even more.”

You will often experience that skilled debaters jump directly to their examples and present their topic and claims afterwards. Many politicians also make use of this procedure, because it is effective, especially on TV where their airtime is short.

The more vivid and captivating, the more convincing the examples will be, but they have to be watertight, Dan Nix warns. A leader of a Danish party, Villy Søvndal, learned this lesson the hard way during a debate before the general election, when he exaggerated an example in front of the Danish prime minister, in order to win the debate and get the votes:

“I have been visiting around twenty retirement homes in the past year. I have not found a single one that has increased personnel during the six years you (i.e. the Danish PM, red.) have been in office.”

He really knows what he is talking about, many of us thought. But it turned out not to be correct – and we have still not forgotten that.

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