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Kevin Jacobson

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I'm a little nervous about giving my atheism speech at school.

My writing teacher has given my class the assignment of writing a persuasive essay. Most people chose quite petty subjects to write on, but I decided to write about something that neither I or anyone else has ever written about. I'm going to give a speech on the the truth of science and atheism.

I believe I have very convincing coherence and evidence in my essay, but I'm extremely nervous on how people are going to handle it. I've already told a few people on what I'm writing on and both of them seemed a little offended and enraged. I'm only an eighth grader and so are my class mates. They might not fully comprehend my essay and just be extremely mad at me. Any suggestions on how to cope with this nervousness?
PS:My teacher already approved of my subject.

Topics: education
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    Oct 14 2012: Dear Kevin,
    I applaud you for presenting a topic that may be controversial. It takes courage to express our true thoughts, feelings, ideas and beliefs in an environment where people may not always agree...kudos to you my friend!

    I've read many of your comments here on TED, and perceive you to be a very intelligent, insightful young person, so I have confidence that you will move through this challenge with ease. There is some good advice on this thread already, and my most important advice, is to believe in yourself and your ability to communicate in a respectful way.

    I would NOT make "convincing" others of anything the main priority. How do you feel when someone is trying to convince you that s/he is right and you are wrong? That is what often causes challenges. As Obey insightfully says..."Be careful claiming absolutes". Present the information as YOUR beliefs, YOUR exploration, YOUR thoughts and feelings about the topic, and of course credit to scientists, etc. for information that supports your essay.

    They may not "fully comprehend" or agree with your essay....you already know that. You are intelligent enough to present the information in a way that may cause them to be more open to your ideas...with excitment. Let go of the need to convince them of anything, and make your presentation SO interesting that they cannot resist being curious! Genuinely connect with the audience and present the information with enthusiasm and confidence.

    If you let go of YOUR need to convince, you may feel less nervous. Very often, it is HOW information is presented and our intent, that makes all the difference. I think/feel that you will do GREAT! Looking forward to hearing more about it:>)
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      Oct 14 2012: My goal truly isn't to convince. My goal is simply to make my fellow classmates look at the world in a different manner than they did before and hopefully get them to challenge that one lazy statement that "god created everything." I really just want my classmates to think.
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        Oct 14 2012: OK...your goal is not to convince. You cannot "make" anyone look at the world differently either. If you want your classmates to think, you need to entice them to think...they have to WANT to think. You may have all the evidence and statistics in the world, and it has no value unless you can get people to listen and be engaged with the topic. Make any sense?

        If you are too insistant, people will either be antagonized, and/or simply shut you and your evidence/statistics out. It is important to present the information in a way that is not too threatening to THEIR beliefs. Draw them into considering YOUR beliefs in a gentle way. People will not accept new information until THEY decide to open the heart and mind to new possibilities....make any sense?

        A first priority is to engage the audience. If you don't have their attention, it doesn't matter what you say:>)
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          Oct 14 2012: I will, of coarse, be gentle in my speech. I may be a little harsh when it comes to this topic on TED, but at school I have to be gentle about this topic since there is a lot on the line. I could anger peoples parents and really get people enraged with me. So, I really have no other option than to be gentle with my speech.
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        Oct 14 2012: Kevin, if you see others as "lazy" because they believe god created everything, then that is the beginning of an antagonistic stance, which will come across in your body language and voice intonation.

        You do not get people to think differently by antagonising them. If you show signs of disrespect for their views, those people will dig their heels even further into their belief, and will not listen to your views.

        Getting people to think beyond their strongly held belief system is a long, gentle process of empathic coaxing, involving entering their world and maybe coming out the other side with changed views - hopefully theirs and possibly even yours.

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