Monday, August 29, 2011

An Explanation and Examples of Clinchers

Types of Clinchers:

1. Appeal to Specific Audience Action(s) or Actuation

Some argue that all communication is persuasive. If persuasion is the act of changing or reinforcing a belief, an attitude or a value, few could effectively argue otherwise. Actuation or an appeal to audience action is a vital part of any overtly persuasive speech. Often this appeal occurs in the conclusion of a speech or at least is restated there.
An effective appeal for action comes in the conclusion of this speech on the dangers of light trucks, vans, and minivans:

"The government and the industry are not looking out for us; we must protect ourselves. So often we take our mode of transportation for granted. We can no longer afford to be so foolish, especially when the price could be our lives. Only by examining the inherent dangers in these vehicles and who is responsible for them can we begin to establish safer transportation for everyone. So as you head home tonight look at the light truck you are in or those light trucks on the road beside you, consider what little protection there is, buckle up, and hope for a safe trip home."
Combining a call to action with a reference to his introduction, another speaker urged his audience to act on the issue of pesticide control. Note how the speaker uses fragments effectively to plant thoughts:

"The Pied Piper fooled his prey. We are also being fooled. Fooled by the Federal Gov­ernment and fooled by chemical lawn spray companies. There is no reason that 800 people should die or 800,000 people injured every year as a result of these chemical poisonings. One brief letter. One small action. These can help better insure that we are not led to our unsuspecting injuries or deaths. Meagan Connelley recovered from her chemical poisoning. Bur now she must hide from the Pied Piper of Pesticides as he plays on. She can only hope that legislation will be enacted to provide better control over the use of these pesticides in our lawns. For Meagan's sake, and for our own personal safety, can't we be that hope?"

Speeches classes and teachers have been notorious in using "write your congressman/woman" as a means of actuation. This is an effective appeal. However, audiences of today have grown accustomed to many requests for action. These range from buying a product on television to opening a piece of "junk mail." The effective speaker offers his/her audience a buffet of possible actions which reflect the audience member's commitment to the issue. In a speech on environmental awareness and recycling, one speaker effectively chose the following clincher statement for her audience:

"Our landfills are filling up at a record-breaking pace. Our water is being polluted intentionally and unintentionally. Each of us can do small things to protect our environment for those that follow. What can each of us to help protect our environment? There's plenty of choices for each of us.
The most obvious is to not litter in our community. Even the best of us is guilty of occasionally littering. It is a sad state of affairs when our quick personal needs infringe on the rights of others. Or the next time that the convenient store clerk tries to place two items in a sack, carry them in hand. Or if the bagger at the superma rket asks you "paper" or "plastic" choose paper. Paper biodegrades in landfills much more quickly than plastic.
The same is true for protecting our water supply. Take, for example, brushing your teeth in the morning. If everyone in the United States would simply fill up a glass of water vs. leaving the water running, we could preserve 26 million gallons of water a year. Paying attention to our cities and municipalities when it comes to watering our lawns in the dead heat of August, we would save almost 400 million gallons of water a year. Both of these require little effort on our part and imagine the benefits we could gain as a society.
And for those of you who really want to help in a more active way, please consider joining Green Peace. I have brought membership applications with me today and stamped envelopes. All you need to do is fill out the form and drop it in the mail in one of the stamped envelopes I'm providing this morning. As a member of Green Peace, 96% of your donation will be used to make our planet a cleaner place to live.
And for those of you who want to really help out in our community, please join us this Saturday morning as we take our turn in walking a two-mile stretch of highway and cleaning up the mess that others have left for our children. We always have donuts and coffee for our volunteers--bring your own cup--and usually go do something fun after we're done. This weekend we'll be going to see the movie Pay It Forward.
Only with a strong commitment from individuals, single households and citizens with good conscience can we stop this problem once and for all.
One wise man said that 'the environment is not ours, we are borrowing it from our children." For our children's sake, I hope you join this worthwhile cause."


This speaker has given the audience all kinds of choices in the above clincher. She has made the choices easy for members of her audience to choose depending on his/her level of commitment. There are also some "hidden" or "implied" benefits to adopting the speaker's plan of action. One is a relief from "cognitive dissonance" or the guilt we might feel for our own poor choices in the past. Another is the chance to become a part of a valued group.

Although writing our congressman/woman or senator are still important with some issues, there are other more "meaty" and realistic ways to use actuation.

Depending on audience, occasion, and your own interests and purposes, you can effectively and memorably end your speech by drawing on an effective clincher.

2. Reference to the Introduction: Bookends

Reference to the Introduction. In our discussion of closure, we mentioned referring to the introduction as a way to end a speech. "Finishing a story begun in the introduction, answering a rhetorical question posed in the introduction, or reminding the audience of the startling fact or statistic you presented in the intro­duction is each an excellent way to provide closure. Like bookends at either side of a group of books on your desk, a related introduction and conclusion provide unified support for the ideas in the middle."

The following speaker's topic dealt with personal problems caused by the current farm crisis. She had opened her speech with an illustration of an Iowan named Dale Burr, whose anguish had led to a murder-suicide. Her conclusion was this:

"Just think . . . if someone had helped Dale Burr cope with the stress he was facing, maybe he and three others might not have died on that cold December day."

Another speaker had begun his speech on the need for catastropic health insurance by quoting Robert Browning an explaining the significance of the quotation to the audience:

"Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made."
He concluded his speech by referring to that Browning quotation which by that time in the speech had gained a new significance to the audience. His clincher statement was:

"Robert Browning tells us the last of life is as precious as the first. While the future will always hold uncertainty, with catastrophic health insurance we can more fully prepare for whatever is yet to be."
A third speaker had introduced his speech by talking about the downfalls in­evitably suffered by the heroes of Greek mythology. He drew an analogy between the risks they faced and the risks inherent in the use of antibiotics-the dangers of overuse. Here is how that speaker ended his speech:

"The demise of Medusa carries with it one final message. With her death, Perseus received two drops of blood. One drop had the power to kill and spread evil; the other, to heal and restore well-being. Similarly, antibiotics offer us two opposite paths. As we painfully take stock in our hubris, in assuming that we can control the transformation of nature, we may ponder these two paths. We can either let antibiotics do the work of our immune systems and proper farm management which may return us to the times when deathly plagues spread across the world, or we can save these miracle drugs for the times when miracles are truly needed."

3. Inspirational Appeal or Challenge
Although summarizing a speech is a fairly straightforward task, reemphasizing the thesis in a memorable way, motivating the audience to respond, and providing effective closure to the speech may require more creative thinking and planning.
Any of the methods of introduction discussed earlier can help you conclude your speech.

Startling statistics, startling facts and a fear appeal are used in this conclusion on emissions from motor vehicles:

"I'm frightened. Frightened that nothing I could say would encourage the 25% of emissions tampering Americans to change their ways and correct the factors that cause their autos to pollute disproportionately. Frightened that the American public will not respond to a crucial issue unless the harms are both immediate and observable. Frightened that the EPA will once again prove very sympathetic to industry. Three simple steps will alleviate my fear: inspection, reduction in lead content, and, most importantly, awareness."

Quotations, for example, are frequently used in conclusions, as in this speech on geographical illiteracy:

"For in the words of Gilbert Grosvener, President of the National Geographic Society, 'A knowledge of geography-where you are in relation to the rest of the world is essential for an understanding of history, economics and politics. Without it, the prospects of world peace and cooperation, as well as a grasp of human events is beyond our reach. With it, we not only understand others, but we can berter understand ourselves.'"

You may also turn to illustrations, personal references, or any of the other methods of introduction to conclude your speech. Go back and look at them. Although considering audience, purpose and occasion are vital, you are really only limited by your own imagination. "The sky's the limit."