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Problem Solving


          As speechmakers, you become problem solvers. There are many different methods to solving problems, but we have adapted John Dewey’s Reflective Thinking Process for use in creating the best possible message for your listeners. This is an analytical systemizing approach that helps keep the emotional attachment low so as to be able to really examine and present solutions to problems. The seven-step process as it may be used in speechmaking is as follows:

  1. Define the Problem: What exactly is the true problem? Dig deep and peel off the layers of issues to find the true problem you want to address.

  2. Analyze the problem: What exactly is the problem? What is causing the problem? Who is the problem affecting? What is the “root” of the problem? What makes up the problem? Why is it a problem?

  3. Establish criteria for a solution: In order to approach a problem analytically, you must create criteria to judge the value and validity of your solutions by. What are the rules/guidelines to be followed in creating solutions?

  4. Consider possible solutions: Brainstorm all possible solutions to the problem. Weigh them against the established criteria to see if they are feasible and will work. Will it meet the needs of the problem? Is the solution workable? How will it work? Do you provide a plan of action for the solution?

  5. Decide on a solution: Choose a solution that meets the criteria established for solving the problem.

  6. Implement the solution: Try the solution. Put it into action. See if the solution works.

  7. Follow up on the solution: Evaluate the effectiveness of the solution proposed. Does it work? How does it work? Are there areas of the solution needing some adjustment? What are those areas and how can you make changes to them to have the problem solved?


          Then you start the problem-solving process all over again. It is all a matter of refinement. Whether it is in your work, your research, your speech, your delivery, your use of visual aids, etc. This entire process can be used to help create the strongest message for your listeners.

Review Questions

Using the seven-step process, give an example of a problem impacting your community and what a a possible solution would be. For steps 6 and 7, theorize how you might implement and follow up on the solution. 

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