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More Outline Examples

The Acceptability Outline Structure

A close cousin of the problem-solution and issue-action

outline examples is the acceptability outline.

This structure starts with a statement that most of your audience should agree with, and then goes on to erode any points of disagreement. As such, you can reduce points of disagreement to small manageable items that can be tackled one at a time.

Below is an example of an acceptability outline structure:

1. Suburban streets should be safer for our children
2. Controlled traffic in built-up residential areas is the answer
   2.1. It is safer for pedestrians
   2.2. Should be acceptable for motorists
3. Keys to a good traffic control
   3.1. Road signs to notify motorists
   3.2. Speed bumps to reduce speed
   3.3. Good traffic visibility
4. The proposed traffic system meets these requirements
   4.1. Road signs inform drivers that children in area
   4.2. Speed bumps tested and approved by automobile agency
   4.3. Improved street lighting
5. This improved safety can be achieved at a reasonable price.

Notice how the presentation starts with a statement that most people would agree with "safer streets for our children". It then goes on to explain how this could be achieved and addresses any points of disagreement. It only mentions the cost at the end, which incidentally is coupled with the first point – the acceptable idea. In this example you may be trying to persuade your audience that the cost of controlling traffic is a small price to pay for the safety of our children.

Such outline examples are great for sales presentations. Salespeople often use this technique without the poor victim (err… prospect) realizing. A salesperson, for example, may first paint a picture of something that their prospect may desire (picture yourself driving an open top sports car, summers day, wind blowing through your hair…) before they inform them of the price and the running cost of the car.

Of course, selling something need not be restricted to physical items. You may be trying to "sell" an idea or trying to persuade your audience to your viewpoint. In such cases, you should know what it is you want your audience to buy or accept (this after all is the objective of your presentation). From that you should then try to find an angle that will get your audience’s acceptance for the opening of your presentation. Finally, you can then expand the outline to explain how to achieve this and tackle any points of disagreement.


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