Making a meaningful contribution begins with your message. On one hand, this has much to do with the strength and soundness of your claim; indeed, your claim is the most important component of your message. On the other hand, your message is distinct from your claim. In this sense, your message is the means by which you communicate your claim and will have a significant impact on how successful your claim will be. As you craft a message, there are several aspects that are worth careful consideration. Below are some of the most important. 

Clarity and Organization

The message should be clear and concise. The goal is to convey your ideas in the simplest and most understandable way. As you present your claim, discuss the evidence, and address counterarguments proceed in an organized and predictable way. Help your audience make the connections within and between each section. Consider the following questions to help you with this aspect of your message.

Clarity and Organization

  1. Have you clearly outlined the structure of your contribution? Does it have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion?
  2. Does each point logically flow into the next? Is there a clear and logical progression of ideas?
  3. Have you avoided unnecessary jargon and complexity? Is your language simple and easy to understand?
  4. Are your visual aids (like images, slides, or charts) clear and easy to understand? Do they effectively support your points? Are the narrated clearly?
  5. Have you highlighted your key points clearly? Will the audience be able to identify them easily?
  6. Is there consistency in your messaging and visuals throughout the presentation?
  7. Have you used repetition effectively to reinforce key points? But also, have you ensured not to overdo it to the point of redundancy?

Relevance and Consistency

As you proceed through your message, recognize and value the attention of your audience or readers. Be careful to avoid tangential thoughts or ideas. Make sure to make connections clear and demonstrate the relevance of each topic to the overall claim or message. In addition, the message should be consistent throughout. Avoid changing style, language, or approach to a topic without justifying the change and its relevance to the topic at hand. Consider the following questions to help you with this aspect of your message.


  1. Is there a consistent theme or message throughout your contribution? Do all parts of your presentation align with this theme? Could you successfully make your claim without certain parts?
  2. Do your supporting details and examples effectively reinforce your main points? Are they directly relevant to your topic?
  3. Does each point of your contribution relate to a main or supporting claim?
  4. Have you used effective transitions to guide your audience from one point to the next?
  5. Do your visuals, anecdotes, and other elements align with and support your main message? Do they add depth to your presentation without distracting from the main points?
  6. Are there any contradictions or inconsistencies in your presentation? If so, how can these be resolved?

Evidence and Proof

As you present your message, be sure to introduce your evidence or proof effectively. Be careful to identify supporting material clearly and to distinguish it from your analysis or interpretation. Be sure to establish the credibility of your evidence by introducing the source of the evidence (the author, for example) and providing some context. Consider the following questions to help you with this aspect of your message.

Evidence and Proof

  1. Consider the following questions to help you with this aspect of your message.
  2. Have you used a variety of evidence, such as statistics, examples, case studies, and expert quotes, to make your argument more robust?
  3. Does your evidence address potential counterarguments? Does it preemptively refute opposing views?
  4. Can you clearly identify the pieces of evidence you are using to support your arguments?
  5. Have you explained how your analysis interprets or gives meaning to this evidence?
  6. How does your analysis of the evidence contribute to your overall argument or main points?
  7. Does your analysis demonstrate critical thinking? Does it go beyond describing the evidence to interpreting, evaluating, and synthesizing it?

Perspective and Call to Action

Present your unique perspective or interpretation of the topic along with how you arrived at that perspective. This is what makes your message unique and can help to engage the audience. You can strengthen your message by exposing your individual thinking clearly and rationally. If appropriate, include a call to action in your message. This is a prompt for the audience to do something in response to your message, such as changing their behavior, adopting a new perspective, or taking action on an issue. Consider the following questions to help you with this aspect of your message.

Perspective and Call to Action

  1. What unique perspective or insights are you bringing to your contribution? How does this perspective add value to your audience’s understanding of the topic?
  2. How can you bridge any gaps between your perspective and your audience?
  3. What specific action do you want your audience to take? Is this call to action clearly stated?
  4. What makes your perspective unique or different from others on this topic? How does this uniqueness add value to your presentation?
  5. Does your perspective challenge common views or assumptions about the topic? If so, how can you present this in a way that is thought-provoking but not confrontational?
  6. How has your perspective evolved over time? Can sharing this journey add depth to your presentation?
  7. How does your perspective inform your vision for the future? How can you inspire your audience to share this vision?

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