A very big part of that is giving your side of the argument the best shot it could possibly have at winning. There are few worse feelings than having to concede defeat in an argument when you still know and believe your side is right and the reason for your loss rests squarely in the fact that your opponent was simply better at presenting their side of the argument. That’s why it is important to know about the shortcomings which lead to failing to get our points across, and learn how to remedy them.
First and foremost, like everything in the social sphere, a good argument starts from within yourself. It is anchored inside of you, and a good foundation is necessary in order for it not to drift free and out of your control. Lack of ethics has already been discussed in detail along with the ethical code one must always bring to the table. Conviction is of very high importance in constructing a convincing argument.
Without it, you will not be able to exhibit the self-assurance and confidence necessary to sway your opponent. You also have to be sure of yourself and know that you really are capable of carrying the argument. Entering with a defeatist attitude about your abilities will show in outward uncertainty, and the party you are arguing with will take this as a sign that you aren’t fully convinced you are right. If you do not appear convinced, then how on Earth could they ever accept your argument?
On the opposite end of the scale of conviction, there is such a thing as being too sure of yourself or your side. Arrogance is never attractive and has a habit of leading to bad research and the use of faulty logic. When someone is sure to the point of overconfidence, they are likely to overlook researching the issue thoroughly, as well as be shoddy in constructing their arguments.
Second of all, the ability to persuade other people lies in their perception of you and how you present your argument. Some of the shortfalls in this area have already been discussed as being direct results of internal shortcomings – lack of conviction in your arguments and coming off as arrogant being two sides of that coin. Technique is also a very big factor in molding other people’s views and making them more amenable to your arguments. Lack of charisma and presenting your arguments in a dead and boring way are a surefire way to switch other people off to them. A lack of clarity and inability to articulate your points even when you are well-versed in them will also thwart your attempts at persuasion.
Third are the abstract aspects, those that pertain to the argument itself. Lack of evidence to support your point of view will always cause your argument to fail, particularly in the face of a well-versed opponent. Logic is a far subtler factor, one that is often ignored. Many times we don’t even think about it when we are arguing, but in reality sound logic is the cornerstone of a persuasive argument.