How to Hold a Video Chat with Jay

During the school season, I do as many as 4 video chats a week, through Skype (preferred), Facetime, or Google Hangouts. They’re great fun, and I always get something out of them. Here are some quick pointers—in the form of rhetorical questions,  naturally.

What’s the best way to get in touch?

Click here and propose alternative dates and times. I can chat between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern Time, any day of the week. But I travel frequently in other time zones, so feel free to ask about other times.

How much does it cost?

You? Nothing.  Not money, at any rate. But these chats do take me away from paid work, so I ask for non-monetary “payment.” Here are some ways:

  1. Assure me that your class has bought the book. (That way we have something to talk about.)
  2.  Spread the word about Thank You for Arguing among your fellow educators. You’ll be my friend for life if you can get an AP English Language convention to invite me to speak. Otherwise, talk about the book on discussion boards and email your colleagues. Let’s bring rhetoric back to its rightful place in education.
  3. Review Thank You for Arguing on Amazon and Goodreads.
  4. Take a picture of your class during the chat and post it on social media, with @jayheinrichs and #tyfa.
  5. Encourage your students to post about the book on social media—preferably with a picture of the cover. Mean tweets are fine, the meaner the better. This is rhetoric, after all.
  6. Also encourage them to take a picture of Thank You for Arguing in a local bookstore. Tag it on Facebook with the location and me! Extra points if they say something witty about its proximity to other titles.
  7. Also have your students visit and share the videos they like.
  8. Ask me if I’m coming to your area, to see if a live talk might be possible.
  9. If you’re a college educator, talk to your dean about expanding rhetoric on your campus. I’m happy to suggest ways to do that, and to set you up with rhetoricians on other campuses.

Do the students have to read the whole book before the chat?

No, but it’s good to have read up through chapter four. And I encourage classes to skip to the last chapter “Run an Agreeable Country” as well. Let me know ahead of time what they’ve read.

How long should it take?

Half an hour to an hour.

What’s the ideal format?

Generally, I talk for a few minutes and then open up to questions. It’s best if students come up in front of the camera one at a time and give their names, sitting through the answer. When the student isn’t shy, I like to banter back and forth. If there’s time at the end, I like to give a peroration explaining why rhetoric is so important.

If you want to discuss a particular subject, let me know in advance. It’s also helpful if you want me to avoid politics, or if your school is socially conservative. I like to practice good decorum.\

What are the best questions?

The most fun chats deal with students’ own persuasion issues: How to deal with an angry sibling. How to get parents to ease up on some rules. How to write a college essay. But we also have fun with politics, marketing, rhetoric in the movies, ways to practice persuasion…

Why exactly are you doing these chats?

Two selfish reasons, one noble reason: The chats help sell the book to my favorite audience, young people. I learn at least as much as the students do. And rhetoric is my cause. It’s a way to allow people to disagree without anger. It develops sympathetic leaders. And it gives me hope for the future.