Make Your Argument Backwards

Deductive Reasoning is one of the most important ways that we put forward logical arguments. It has been used for thousands of years, and still remains the basic structure for how we persuade people. However, we need to change the way we use this when we realise that people are having shorter and shorter attention spans.

Deductive Reasoning usually takes the following form…

Statement (A): All dogs have four legs
Statement (B): I own a dog
Conclusion (C): My dog has four legs

The conclusion is the natural result of the supporting statements – if A and B are proven correct, then C is also true.

We use this kind of reasoning all the time when we are trying to either persuade someone to make a decision, or justify a decision that we have made.

“Jeff Stole a Pen from the office. Any member of staff who steals gets fired. Therefore, Jeff should get fired.”

However… in the age of Information Overload, a problem occurs. People don’t read everything they see written down. They tend to read the first sentence and paragraph, then skim the rest. If you are writing a ten paragraph e-mail, with your main point right at the end, this can be disasterous – because your main point may be missed.

As a result, we need to review how we go about using this kind or reasoning.

The answer is to put the conclusion first, then back this up with the supporting statements afterwards.

Old way…

All dogs have four legs AND I own a dog THEREFORE My dog has four legs

New way…

My dog has four legs BECAUSE All dogs have four legs AND I own a dog

Writing this way around means that you still get the main point, even if the reader stops reading half way through.

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