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Climb down the "abstraction ladder" by suggesting three successively more concrete meanings for the following words:
Explain how these meanings are more concrete and why.
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The abstraction ladder is a visual analogy which employs a ladder a speaker should "climb" up and down in order to keep the audience engaged and the speech effective.
To elucidate the purpose of using the ladder, imagine Jack wants to get a really good view of the new pool he just got put in his backyard. He doesn't just stand on the ground and look at it, touch it (at the lowest concrete level, touch, sight, hearing, and taste are all available). Nor does Jack want just the view from the bedroom window (the view at the highest level, abstract, since it's all an idea; one can look at the great scene, but can't touch). Jack wants both upstairs and ground level views - and the view in between them.
In an effective speech about any of the three words below, it's important for the speaker to talk about the word and present it both as concrete and in the abstract. Effective speakers MUST go UP, to the MIDDLE, and DOWN in a rhythm that keeps listeners going from easily visualizing to using that visual to go higher (to the middle), and then even higher (to the abstract), and then, instead of overwhelming them with more abstract, bring them down again.
Ways to bring the concepts down to the concrete:
- use examples
- use as many of the five senses as possible
- give specific explanations with details
- answer questions about "Why?" and "How?"
- SHOW them! (Don't just tell 'em)
- tell them how they can use the information
- use stories
- give real-world info related to the concept
The words below can be brought down in the following ways for the following reasons:
a. Jeristine, the country just above ours, (right here - show on map and emphasize borders) has just become independent of its current neighbor, Petrolan. (Show borders, real-world info, examples.)
b. As of February 20th of this year, its governor wrote to the President of Petrolan, who peacefully agreed to recognize Jeristine's proposed Declaration of Independence. Therefore, Jeristine is now free from outside control and able to take care of itself. (Give details about "How?" with explanation.)
c. Being independent, it is now forming its own government (coming down on the ladder to the middle - not so abstract), and has been making decisions about key issues such as the use of Jello Bay, which also borders our own country. Some proposed uses include digging for oil wells, which affect our use of the water and present a risk to our wildlife. However, it's not too late for us - we can sign this petition for Jeristine to keep its independence, but to also work together with us to use the water we share in the best way possible. (Provide details from the real world, something for them to do.)
d. Look at the map again; each independent country has its own color and texture. (Use the 5 senses.)
a. Children - and adults - can learn to think of one anothers' feelings instead of being overly concerned with their own selves. This can change them from being selfish, concerned only with what will benefit them, to being generous, thinking of others first. It's the concept of "MINE!" before "Let's make a deal." (Give details, use less unfamiliar words.)
b. For example, (call for a volunteer, have them sit in the seat) a selfish child seeing that another classmate has taken her seat (hold up seat) will immediately scream or even try to push her way in (demonstrate). However, when she develops the ability to be unselfish, she will be more empathetic, trying to understand how someone feels before acting. (Give a concrete example, use the audience, demonstrate more senses, or act it out with a chair to show what the selfish child and the unselfish child will do.)
c. To demonstrate selfishness, everyone turn to your partner and think of something you can say "Mine!" about and justify it. Say that's MY ____ because I saw it first!!! (Have the audience DO something concrete to demonstrate meaning.)
d. Here are six ways to tell if you or someone else is being selfish ... (provide examples, have them do something, give details.)
a. Have you ever had a neighbor (at home or school) always poking their head out to see what you're doing? (Give an example of a concrete nosy person.) And then asks around until s/he finds out exactly why you stepped out?
b. I once had an accident with a cup of coffee on my pants. Luckily, I was able to wash it off and make my way home. Unfortunately for me, my nosy neighbor, who likes to find out all the details of how and who and where, saw me getting out of my car! I HAD to explain or she would go and ask others instead! (Give an example, more personal, a little funny.)
c. Causes of nosiness include... (provide explanation, details to help make idea concrete and easy to understand.)
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