Using Toulmin’s Model of Argumentation to Present an Idea

This is the podcast format to be used at the upcoming #ProDevos Summit Beers Luncheon. Each participant is encouraged to share for ten minutes on the topic of Worklife Integration. At the conclusion of each person’s presentation, there will be time for a few questions. Participants are encouraged to take analog notes and formulate questions during the course of the event.

I. Claim

– Make an assertion regarding the matter under consideration.

– Example: “The paradigm of worklife integration (rather than worklife balance) maximizes employee contribution to a company’s Mission, Vision, Values and Method. In other words, from a development perspective, it’s important to emphasize the concept of worklife integration to sustain quality employee retention.”

II. Data

– Provide evidence from your professional experience to support your claim.

– Example: “At our company, the employee privilege of taking remote workdays (RWD’s) provides an opportunity for physical recovery, mental brainstorming space and spiritual rejuvenation (specifically in the realm of nature).

III. Warrant

– Link the data you provided to the claim you made; “bring it home.”

– Example: “Since RWD’s make for fitter, happier and more productive employees, management should encourage proactive use of RWD’s as opposed to reactive use (illness/weather/travel contingencies).

IV. Backing

– Provide additional support to your warrant, if applicable. Often this takes the form of a personal anecdote using the archetype STEP (State, Translate, Exemplify, Prove).

– Example: “When employee Layton Kor went to the Black Canyon to work remotely, he exceeded managerial expectations by 50%. Specifically, he brainstormed four new categories of contributions to his company. This sets an example of how RWD’s can be used to foster creativity, and supports our argument that companies should provide resources for regularly-scheduled RWD’s.

V. Qualifiers / Reservations

– Indicate the strength of the data.

– Example: “Not all employees use RWD’s as productively as Layton Kor, of course.”

VI. Rebuttal

– Allow for counter-arguments, or pre-empt them with further data.

– Example: “To play devil’s advocate, the dirtbag demographics of Durango make it difficult to source quality employees who truly care about the company (i.e. Vantiv).

c. Conclusion

Although the Toulmin Model of Argumentation was intended for academic debate, it is highly applicable to a sales force or customer service team, or more broadly, any employee who speaks persuasively on behalf of the company.


 Sample Legend for Note-Taking, used by FN

Let Spades = Workflow Tasks = !
Let Hearts = Personal Connections = @
Let Clubs = Professional Affiliations = #
Let Diamonds = Philanthropic Aspirations = $


logo by local Durango graphics designer and all-around Renaissance woman @maddeesryan


Leave a Reply