My college English composition teacher, Dr. Denny, was one of my favorite teachers of all time. He was in his late 30’s, wore bow-ties and acetic sports coats, and said exactly what he thought. Our class was 7:30am Monday mornings. Instead of dreading the early morning hike across campus, I looked forward to it. As a strong writer, I could have believed that I would breeze through his class just as I did virtually all my high school English classes. Instead, I chose to let myself be challenged by him. He made a profound difference in my life and my ability to communicate with intention.
One of the most impactful tools he taught us was how to write a good argument. The recipe went something like this – claim, evidence, resolution:
- The claim was essentially our point of view – more than just a mere fact – it was an insight into what we thought a set of facts or data points meant
- The evidence was the fact, data, or quote that illustrated the claim – it logically conveyed that the claim was indeed true – the proof
- The resolution tied it all together in a nice package – telling the audience that I told you so – reiterating the claim had been proven
I remember learning so much that quarter about how to write persuasively. And, an even bigger life lesson – have a clear purpose every time you communicate. As humans, we do things for a reason. We have a purpose, and being clear about that purpose when we communicate separates us from others. The application of Dr. Denny’s communication framework – claim, evidence, resolution – transcends far beyond a college essay – I have used this structure throughout my career.