Dyed All Hues

Thinker and Experimenter,


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Delivering a presentation on a controversial topic without labeling the controversy.


I sometimes have labeling issues, as well as others around me, but sometimes the labels aren't important. The only thing of importance is the issue itself, though politics always seems to stick its head up.

Have you ever had to present something, but you know the audience already have their own preconceived notions?

I found it helpful to talk solely about the issue and not the popular name of the issue.

For example, I once did a presentation on the dangers of humans to the environment, but I really wanted to say "Global Warming", though that has a whole train of ties to its label, so I proceeded to just talk about the issues and not label the issue itself. At the end of my presentation, I recieved a lot of interest and positive remarks. Most people told me that they didn't even think about global warming, but the issues seemed more important, so that is the focus I approached with.

I believe that not giving your controversy a political mask is a good thing because, only then will the issue be seen as it is and not what it has been hyped up to be.

What approach have you taken to persuade or inform your audience of an issue without adding a political "BUZZ WORD" to it?

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    Jul 24 2012: I think there's a lot of value in that, Derek, regardless of the audience or the issue. If one avoids hackneyed, polarizing terms the willingness to keep investing is not (sometimes jarringly) interrupted, and logically or illogically, increases the odds for greater audience reach and sympathy. This can be quite a challenge if the issue is only recognized by use of charged labels. If we were all "infallible listeners" it wouldn't matter, but the moment one of these terms enters our head during a dialog there is the chance that suddenly we aren't listening quite so carefully, or even begin to tune out the speaker if we become predictive of the outcome. Because from our point of view we have -already- made this investment, and our brain reaches for it, like a hand reaching for an already-possessed and trusted tool. This will be the point of the dialog where we feel the first twinge of annoyance at the speaker, and it's only likely to go downhill from there as we (right or wrong) occupy ourselves with an internal defense while the argument unfolds (listeners already "in the camp" may be nodding agreement to the speaker, but it's possible even they aren't thinking as deeply on the words anymore).

    The better listeners recognize this in themselves and overcome it, still willing to lend the speaker full, ongoing consideration, but even in this case the rapport has probably dimmed somewhat with those not already convinced - the very ones the speaker wants to most convince.

    In short, I favor the technique, even if it means hitting the thesaurus, creating topic-local terms ad doc, or using several words where "the one" would normally do. Some may point this out as ridiculous or even under-handed, or just a new, annoying way to be repetitious. But the object is to gain new adherents, and if a person is smart enough to see what the speaker is doing, they should also be smart enough to constitute that "better listener."
  • Aug 5 2012: I hadn’t given it much thought, but when I read and article on a heated topic I naturally search for the buzzwords that are used by both sides to identify on what side of the issue they fall. I tend to question people who hit all the key terms(either negative or positive) because they clearly are trying to persuade more than inform. Their goal is not to educate but to bring people to their way of thinking. Of course most people ho would take the time to write and publish an article on a hot button issue are doing so not with the sole objective to inform but to bring people to their perspective.
    Quite some time ago I read an article pointing out that writers who support groups that have a negative image(hate groups) and are strongly on one side of an issue will intentionally avoid the inflammatory language. This is done in order to appear neutral and seemingly giving unbiased information, frequently they will affiliate with or even create organizations that seem open-minded. In doing this they can lure people in to seemingly justified mild prejudicial opinions. In effect these well spoken, intelligent individuals who seem completely respectable are akin to “gateway drugs” to racist and hate groups.
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      Aug 5 2012: Hi Jesse,

      All I can respond with for your last paragraph is that a single tool or method can used in an array of ways. Some people use tools to try to fix problems, but others use tools to get their own views of these so called "problems" fixed. We know that with further analysis into these individuals' or organizations and their actions that their true goals will be revealed. Unfortunately, some may take more time than we wish we could have taken to stop any negative individuals' or organizations from pursuing their wrongful goals.

      Thank you for shedding some light on some new areas. =)
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    Jul 24 2012: I believe you should give your presentation honestly and wholeheartedly and to heart of the issue. You need to tell what needs to be told, not think about what others might think about it. That's their job, your job is to inform us, if you got something important to say. While there are stupid people out there, there's also smart ones too. Have faith in us because there will always be someone who will hear you out!
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      Jul 25 2012: The heart of the issue is exactly what I wanted to convey. If I used these common labels, then people will surely have their own opinions on the issue, but the political stances will already be made the second the "popular terms". I do have faith in people, but I just want to talk about the issue at hand and not the word that holds the whole issue because how can one word define a complete issue?

      I believe only the issue will define the issue, not the common word, but the common word is used to replace the media driven issue. We all know that the media NEVER lies to us, so that is why we should just talk about the issue and the common term isn't needed in that case. =)
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        Jul 25 2012: you're right, and I do think that that's a problem, but the problem is not really your fault, the problem is then that some of your audience don't have a full understanding of what's really going on if they're so easily affected by buzz words.

        But, in the end I think you'll do what you believe is the best way to communicate to them. If you receive a lot of good feedback, then that's a sign that says you're doing something right.