Tag Archives: persuasive writing techniques

Persuasive Essay Writing Techniques: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

persuasive writing techniques

Persuasive writing is a delicate endeavor. There are those who make an art out of it, and those who make a mess out of it. When persuasive essay is written by an experienced author, it can be inspiring, moving and, dare I say, persuasive. But, when it’s done poorly, it will turn the reader off, confuse them rather than draw them in.

So, how do you do it right? Here are some guidelines for writing great persuasive essay.

Things to avoid in persuasive writing

    • Hyperbole. Don’t exaggerate. If your argument is that President Reagan’s economic policies damaged the American middle class, don’t write “Ronald Reagan destroyed America and threw our economic progress back to the Stone Age.” It’s too dramatic and only serves to undermine your authority. The reader won’t trust the rest of your argument if you come out guns blazing without any facts, stats or historical analysis to back you up.
    • Don’t use first person. A persuasive essay earns its credibility by achieving a certain level of objectivity. By making it personal and using “I” statements, you make it sound more like a personal opinion, rather than a well-researched analysis.
    • Don’t leave out opposing arguments. One of a persuasive essay’s greatest strengths is recognizing the arguments that exist against your position. That way, you’re presenting the reader with all the facts and allowing them to choose which side they find more valid. By ignoring the other side, you lose the opportunity to address it directly, and discredit it with your own argument. Providing an analysis of the opposition’s opinion also shows that you’re an expert on the subject: you’ve studied both sides of the issue before making your decision.
    • Don’t rant. Nobody appreciates being on the receiving end of a rant. Even if you’re convinced that the Republican or Democratic party are spawns of the devil, unless you have specific facts and evidence to prove it, your words won’t be taken seriously. If you go rambling on with no structure or organization and pure emotional impulse, then your readers may get bored and stop reading.
    • Don’t be mean, catty or rude. No name-calling or swearing. Strong language and insults once again do more damage to your reputation than they do to your opponents. Nobody wants to be verbally assaulted, and reading offensive and aggressive commentaries will turn the reader against you.

Things to use in your persuasive essay

  • A good hook. Get the reader’s attention right off the bat with a powerful quote, an anecdote or a statistic.
    Quote. “I like your Christ. I don’t like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”
    -Mahatma Gandhi
    Anecdote. Last week’s scandal of financial corruption and pedophilia that shook Smalltown, USA’s church community poses the following question: are church leaders really following Christ’s example?
    Statistic. A shocking 40% of Catholic Churches in the United States have been the subject of investigation over pedophilia charges.
  • Refine your thesis statement. Your essay’s thesis statement is the crux on which the rest of your essay hangs. If it’s strong and solid, then you’ll have an easier time backing it up. If it’s weak and rambling, then it will be harder to defend. It should be a polemical statement, meaning that someone could easily argue the other side of the issue.

Example of a weak thesis statement: “College graduates are facing hard times.” It’s okay. You’ll be able to find research to defend this. But it’s not polemical enough. There’s no counter-balance to it. It would be difficult to find a counter-argument.

Example of a strong thesis statement: “This year’s college graduates will have a harder time finding a job than their parents did thirty years ago.” It’s easy to find credible research to back it up and it provides two specific groups that are being compared: this year’s college graduates, and college graduates from thirty years ago. There could be a strong counter-argument for this statement, so it’s a better choice than the first one, even though they’re both expressing a similar idea.

  • Provide credible research from reputable sources. Personal blogs that spout opinions by people who hold no degree in the subject they write about aren’t credible sources. Wikipedia is not a credible source. Newspaper articles, reputable magazines and specialized publications should be used to support your ideas.
  • Include your research in well organized supporting paragraphs. Structure your essay in a way that’s easy to follow and that provides clear examples to support your thesis statement. Don’t forget to include opposing arguments.
  • Use transition words. Transition words can do wonders for the flow of your essay. A persuasive essay isn’t just about proving your point, but making it easy for the reader to follow you. Words such as “moreover”, “furthermore”, “in spite of”, “however” serve as guides throughout your essay. They help to:
    1. Reinforce a point already made.
    2. Alert the reader of a contrasting statement.
    3. Signal the introduction or conclusion of an idea.

    Here’s a comprehensive list of transition words and their uses.

  • Take advantage of the conclusion. Don’t just summarize the main points of your essay. They’ve already read your essay and know what it says. The concluding paragraph is an opportunity for you to explore further questions to be answered about your subject.

If you’re writing about conflict in the Middle East, raise the question about the next steps. What are the risks of withdrawal? What are the benefits of continued presence?

If you’re writing about global warming: who can provide answers or offer guidance? What kind of research is needed to solve the problems presented?

The conclusion should demonstrate your expertise on this subject and should leave the reader inspired, intrigued and, hopefully, on your side.

8 Persuasive Writing Techniques to Make the Story Appealing

Whether the story is fictional or not, there are less well-known persuasive writing techniques you can use to make it more appealing. Sometimes all it takes is a little reminding and boom, just like that new ideas come on like cerebral wildfire. In this article we’ll look at eight reliable methods you can use to compel your readers into deeper personal involvement.

persuasive Writing Technique

#1: Almighty Propaganda

Not to get dark or anything, but look at how well certain governments and corporate bodies throughout modern history have used propaganda to persuade the masses do any number of oddball things.

  • Are you adequately repeating the theme of the story in different ways?
  • Are you creating characters that deepen the story by reinforcing your point, or pull it apart?
  • If you need the reader to feel or imaginatively see something, then it bears repeating.

Listen, the facts are in ladies and gentlemen: if you repeat a theme, a moral or even a marketing slogan to someone through a story about ten times over a short period you’ll imprint it within their minds. Say the same thing, show the same scene, or make the same impression in a series of different ways like creative and subtle propaganda.

#2: Provide Reasons – Anything Will Do

Give the readers good reason they should continue on with the next paragraph, buy the product, get involved with the character or even take you seriously as a writer. One of the most powerful words in your reason-arsenal is “because.”

Why because? Who because? When because? What because? Everything needs to have because after it in one way or another for readers to buy into whatever story you’re selling. And here’s the key, your reasons don’t technically need to make sense.

Of course in non-fiction this is situational, but for sales copy and fiction writing in general the reasons just need to be good enough to persuade, right? Since most human beings are persuaded emotionally, there’s a big grey area in the reasoning department.

#3: Consistent Upward Climbs

Rollercoasters are awesome, but they’re also mentally exhausting. If you want to drive readers nuts and have them begging for a CTA (call to action), then build your story with steady unchanging upwards momentum. Think about it from a psychological perspective.

How much of human society is based on consistency? The power grid, entertainment, the work force etc. We’re mentally programmed not to come across as inconsistent. So, consistency needs to be woven into the fabric of your persuasive writing.

#4: Lavish Readers with Social Proof

Social proof is about tapping into another engrained trait – need for acceptance. Whether we want to admit it or not, we like to do what everyone else is doing. A simple example is, pretend you have a choice between two items of equal price and quality. One has customer testimonials extolling its virtues while the other does not.

Which one do you think roughly 8 out of 10 people go with? Now, those testimonials could be completely false. It doesn’t occur to us to check their validity. Once you learn to recognize social proofing you begin to see it in all of the most powerful writing, regardless of genre.

#5: Parables, Allegories, Metaphors & Similes

You could throw Myths in that list as well. This is the stuff that drives the human mind into frenzy. The trick, and the challenging part, is to make them original. How many creative, funny and ironic comparisons (simile) can you make between a mouse and a man?

Metaphors get complex ideas across in a digestible way, through story. They make direct connections in indirect ways. Allegories are tough. Try making one of those up. Think about Plato’s timeless “Allegory of the Cave”.

There is perhaps nothing more powerful than the proper and effective use of these tools. You can dramatically sweep minds right off their feet and into your arms (see what I just did there?). Study them and whenever you can, use them.

#6: Appeal to the Human Animal

Objectively, human beings are beings just like any others, at least in a physical sense. We’re governed to certain degrees, by instincts. These instincts go back hundreds of thousands of years. Jealousy, envy, acceptance into the tribe etc. When you really want to grab someone, grab them tribally. We all intimately understand the concept of “tribe.” Modern tribes are everywhere!

#7: Unrestrained and yet Structured Insanity

Go crazy. Do the unexpected and throw a few proverbial BIC lighters into the fire when no one’s looking. Upset the tribe. The key is to only allow true chaos to reign momentarily. If you sustain it too long the writing will thin out and all connection might be lost. Structure the insanity.

#8: Get Psychological

Last but not least, when your writing needs to evolve go psychological. It’s all psychological regardless really. Become the captain of that ship rather than the guy up in the crow’s nest. As the writer, you’re in control of the rudder of your story, not the audience. Use their minds as your persuasive sails.

Have you created your own story? Do you have any tips for writing with persuasion?

5 Persuasive Writing Techniques: Creative Confidence

Writing itself, whether fiction or otherwise, is a persuasive art. Right this moment you’re either being convinced or persuaded into moving onto the next sentence, or not. The persuasive ability of this informative web article is directly linked to the value you expect to receive.

You desire to be a more persuasive writer. You yearn to feel creative juices churn inside, and confident in your ability to lead readers from one sentence, subtitle or bullet-point to the next.

Persuasive Writing Techniques

Below are 5 persuasive writing techniques that will undoubtedly help you cover some ground.

Technique #1: Concentrate on Beginnings & Endings

The most persuasive parts of writing are typically located at the beginning and the end of things. Things like chapters, sections or lists. That initial 10%. Come in swinging and go out with a roar (of a dreadful whisper). Taking the liberty to illustrate this point, you’ll see that the first and last words of the sentences below are highlighted.

  • Analyze your writing bit by bit to see if there are words in the beginnings and endings which could be removed or replaced.
  • Jumpstart certain important sentences/parts with a more exciting word, one that asks the reader to become more mentally involved.
  • Strike the fine line between being imaginative and being absolutely to the point and direct.

Don’t go nuts with this technique. All that you need to do is make yourself more aware of how you begin and end your messages. You’ll start to build a connective framework that links things together in a more persuasive way.

Technique #2: Persuasion is Action

The vast majority of the decisions we make in our day to day lives are based on emotion. Actually, when you get right down to it, the lion’s share of all human culture is based on pure unrestrained imagination.

  • Remember that many of us are programmed to expect entertainment whenever we put our faces in front of a “screen.” People read using tablets, laptops, smartphones, iPods, desktops, eReaders etc. All the same things they use for entertainment.
  • To entertain the imagination your writing must move, act, travel, perform and do. The connective tissue and focus on beginnings and endings help you take the reader somewhere.
  • Make your writing travel. Go somewhere. Do something. Be something. Even if you’re just writing product descriptions for Cowboy hats. If you want to persuade people to buy that hat, take’em to a rodeo!

Technique #3: Re-envision Creativity as a Science

Professional web-based article writers have no clue what “writer’s block” even is. In the same way someone who’s never smoked in their lives has no conception of a “nic-fit.” Imagine pumping out 50 articles in one week at 500-800 words long…on 10 different subjects at least 3 weeks of every month.

In case you’re wondering, in that scenario we’re talking about 25,000 to 40,000 words a week, or roughly 100,000 words a month. We’re just ball-parking here. The idea is that “creativity” is more of a science than an art when you don’t have the luxury to sit around wasting time on some hypothetical “writer’s block” phenomenon.

  • Write first, ask questions later.
  • Study up on how to “Kill your darlings.”
  • Once “creativity” is no longer perceived as something you cannot control, it turns into a switch you can flip on or off at will.

Technique #4: Create Character of Your Ideal Reader Beforehand

This is a big one and it goes for most forms of sales, fiction and non-fiction writing. Before you compose something that’s meant to persuade, create three mental prototypes of your ideal reader.

  • Who exactly are you persuading and what exactly is it you want them to do, experience or feel?
  • Create a male and female version of your ideal reader, regardless of whether you’re writing about beer or bras.
  • This exercise in and of itself is going to make you 10% more persuasive even if you give it 3 minutes of thought before writing the first word.

Sounds simple, right? 90% of the writers who are, have been or ever will fail to do this.
They focus on why they’re writing, what they’re writing about and in general who they’re writing for. Many probably know what they want the reader to do, but they don’t REALLY try to become the reader.

Technique #5: Compose Mountains of Advertorial Copy

The question is this: if it takes roughly 10,000 hours of “practice” before we can claim to have mastered something, how much writing does it take? How much persuasive writing equals 10,000 hours of practice?

No one knows for sure, but let’s go back to that hypothetical article writer from before in our discussion. Would it be unreasonable to say that someone could claim to have mastered article writing if they wrote 10,000 of them? That’s a round estimate figure of 5-8 million words.

On, how many subjects? It boggles the mind. The point is that the #1 best way to become a prolific and profound persuasive writer is to start writing and don’t look back.

How do you manage to persuade the reader? Do you think these approaches could work for you? Let us know in comments!