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Communication Skills – MCM 301 VU
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Lesson 14 Thesis Statement
What is a thesis statement? A thesis statement is a declarative statement in sentence form. It is a complete thought; it is not a question. It is a simple sentence that makes a statement or expresses an attitude, opinion, condition, position, or feeling about the subject.
Suppose you begin with a topic, the general subject matter, and, after considering your audience and researching your subject, you formulate a statement about the topic. For example:
Topic: Fast foods Thesis: Fast foods are a serious problem for heart patients
You have made a complete declarative statement. This statement expresses a condition about the relationship that exists between fast foods and heart patients. However, consider the next example.
Topic: Fast foods Thesis: Does fast foods cause a serious problem for heart patients?
This sentence is not a thesis statement. It does not express a feeling, condition, opinion, or an attitude. The sentence is a question; it does not declare or tell anything -- it only asks. This sentence would not give focus to your message for the audience. It would only pose more questions.
The thesis statement, then, is a complete declarative sentence that expresses an opinion, condition, value, attitude, or feeling.
Purpose of the thesis
What is the purpose of the thesis sentence in a communication situation? Why is one necessary? A thesis statement is the focus of the speech, lecture, conversation, or discussion. It is the main idea or purpose of the entire message, expressed in a single sentence. For example:
Topic: Inflation Thesis: Inflation has seriously affected the housing market.
The entire speech, then, should be spent developing the thesis. You should show how the housing market has been seriously affected by inflation, Every statement, fact, opinion and example expressed should be concerned with developing the concept that inflation has affected the housing market.
Appropriateness of the thesis
The thesis must not only be a declarative sentence; it should also be appropriate for the audience. Formulate a thesis that you are interested in and well informed about, and also one that will interest and inform the audience. Will the thesis be new and interesting to them, or are your going to "inform" the audience about something they already know?
Is your thesis appropriate for the occasion and place? A topic and thesis might be interesting but simply not appropriate for the audience at that particular time. Selecting a thesis that is inappropriate constitutes a failure to adapt to the audience.
Scope of the thesis Next ask yourself if the thesis is well designed. You have already partially answered this question if you docsity.com
Communication Skills – MCM 301 VU
© Copyright Virtual University of Pakistan 45
have considered the level of interest and of prior information of your audience.
You should also consider the scope of your thesis sentence. Have you limited the thesis adequately? Do you have the time and information necessary to discuss the thesis you have designed? Is your thesis too general and too broad to be of interest or to be informative to the audience?
For example, you have been assigned to present an 8- to 10-minute persuasive speech. You select and research your topic. You formulate the thesis: "Inflation is a serious problem in this country." Is your thesis well designed? No, because the thesis is too broad. How could you develop and support this thesis in 8 to 10 minutes? The sentence needs to be limited, and it could be limited in a variety of ways, such as:
Inflation is a serious problem for: the young married the farmer the housewife
The list is endless. How many specific groups can you add to the list?
After thinking of all the possible ways to complete the statement, you can see just how broad the original thesis is, and how impossible it would be to develop it effectively for the audience.
Concreteness of the thesis Besides being limited in scope, a thesis must also be concrete in its wording. For example, the thesis "Preventive dentistry is good" is, not well designed. This thesis needs to be more concrete. "Good" is a vague term; it needs definition. A more effective thesis for our audience might be: Preventive dentistry is an effective means of controlling tooth decay:" This statement indicates why preventive dentistry is important.
Development of the thesis
After you have formulated your thesis statement, the next step is to develop it by stating your main points. Suppose your thesis is “Improving communication skills are essential for every business student.” What are your reasons for making this statement - good communication skills help make good presentations, improved communication ensures future success? Your reasons for believing that improving communication skills are essential for every business student are your main points and are the means of developing your speech for the audience.
Your main points should always be: Clear Logical Equal in value Distinct Central to the issue
Clarity Are your main points clearly worded? Have you used simple terms? Are the words concrete and precise? Are you constructing simple sentences?
It is important to make your reasons clear for the audience. For example, if the thesis statement isdocsity.com
Communication Skills – MCM 301 VU
© Copyright Virtual University of Pakistan 46
"Everyone should take a first-aid course in high school" a clear reason, stated concretely in a simple sentence, might be:
Students need courses that have a practical application.
A reason that is not as clear, concrete, or simply constructed would be:
Students need not only theatrical courses, but also they need courses that are practical and have direct correlation with their lives and immediate situations.
Which statement would the audience more readily understand?
Logic Are your reasons logical? Will they make sense to the audience? Will they seem reasonable to them? Will it be apparent to the audience that your reasons follow logically from your thesis?
If your thesis is "Everyone should take a first-aid course in high school," two logical, reasonable statements that support the thesis are: "Students need courses that are relevant," and "Students can learn to save lives." Unreasonable arguments would be: "The Red Crescent wants you to take the course." Equal in value Are your reasons of equal value, or is one statement significantly more important than the other? Is one statement simply not as important a reason or consideration as the other?
Main points should be of equal importance if at all possible. For example, if the thesis statement is "Every one should go for a morning walk.” Two important reasons might be: "Walking is a good exercise," and "Walking is good for health." The statement "Walking is a good exercise because I like it" is neither logical nor as important as the other reasons for walking. Distinct Are your main points distinct from each other, or do some main points restate or overlap other statements?
For instance, suppose your thesis is "Crimes against women is a serious issue in this country" Two distinct supporting statements might be: "Teenage gangs are terrorizing women," and "Women living in big cities are the victim." These points are distinct because the first emphasizes who is causing the assaults and the second emphasizes the place where the assaults occur.
Two main points that relate to the same thesis and are not distinct might be: “Women are the victim of terrorism in big cities” and “Women are seldom hurt in small cities.” These are not distinct statements. They both say the same thing, but from different vantage points.
Central to the issue Will the main point answer the central question for the audience? In persuading your audience to play cricket, you might use as main points that cricket will make you thinner, healthier, and happier. These reasons are central to the issue. However, if your reasons for advising a person to play cricket include that cricket is played in different countries and that Mr. X is an excellent cricket player, your main points are not central to the issue.
In summary, your main points should be statements that are clear, logical, equal in value, distinct, and central to the issue.