How to Hold a Video Chat with Jay

Wow, have these chats gotten popular! So popular, in fact, that I'm having trouble finding time to write or, you know, earn a living. While I'm not about to stop doing them--your rhetoric teaching will save this country--I do need to make sure the time is meaningful for both of us.

So, if you're interested in doing a video chat, please check out the tips and then fill out the form at the bottom of this page.


How much does it cost?

You? Nothing.  Not money, at any rate. But these chats do take me away from paid work, and I'm getting a great many requests. So I ask for non-monetary “payment,” mostly in the form of spreading the word about rhetoric, Thank You for Arguing, and the video chats. Just let me know what you plan to do. Suggestions:

  • Take a class selfie with me at the end of the session and post on the Facebook AP Lang page, Instagram, Twitter—whatever you’re on.

  • Email at least one colleague telling about the chat, and copy me (

  • Post a picture of your class with the students holding a copy of Thank You for Arguing or How to Argue with a Cat.

  • Encourage students (without pressure!) to post individual selfies with the book and tag me, @jayheinrichs. Kudos for flames, especially funny ones; I love reading how I ruined summer vacation.

  • Something no one has done before: major motion picture? Debate over the book’s ethics? Staged play with scenes from the book? Quilt?

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 else should they be prepared?

They should have questions prepared in advance: about writing, the tools in the book, persuasion problems they've encountered, politics, and anything that floats their rhetorical boat. Please tell your students that each questioner should come up to the camera and say their name loudly. I give extra props to students who ask their questions without reading them. It's scary but more fun.

Also, consider knowing the order of at least the first several students. 

How long should it take?

Forty-five minutes is ideal.

how do we begin the chat?

Please initiate the call. I'll be ready five minutes before the time we arrange. If you're using Skype, add me as a contact in advance. I'm Figarospeech. If Google, I'm ospeech@gmail. For FaceTime, I'll give you my number before the chat.  Please test your equipment--sound, video, big screen--ahead of time!

What’s the BEST 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. And it's always fun to take a selfie of the class to share on social media. Be sure and @jayheinrichs.

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.