Persuasion is a powerful skill to have. To be persuasive you’ll need to always:
- State your claim clearly
- Understand your audience well
- Engage through emotions
- Focus on one side of the argument
- Use evidence to amplify your point
- Keep organised
- Use active language
You’ll need it not only to write essays in school and university but also to convince people of ideas throughout your life. You’ll need it when you’re getting peers to vote for you for a position in a student organisation, you’ll need it when pitching ideas during a business presentation when you get a job, or you might need it when convincing someone to go on a date with you (who knows!). But how do you develop persuasiveness as a skill?
One way is to practice persuasion through your writing. Whether it’s writing an argumentative essay, a persuasive speech, or even a TedTalk (). Persuasion is all about convincing your audience to change their perspectives or to be open to seeing a point from a different angle. To do this you have to appeal to the reader’s rationality, emotion, and beliefs. Below are seven steps to being persuasive in your writing.
1. STATE YOUR CLAIM CLEARLY
To start off, state a clear and precise argument. In other words, you need to produce a concise thesis statement. Pretty straightforward, right? But we know that keeping it simple and direct yet informative can be difficult, so check out our blog on .
2. UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE
Always know for whom you are writing (even if the essay is for a class assignment). What point of view do they have? How likely are they to agree with your position? What will compel them to take action? How can you appeal to them on an emotional level? Keep the answers to these questions in mind when writing.
3. ENGAGE THROUGH EMOTIONS
The best way to persuade someone is to evoke emotion. When possible, use vivid imagery and the help of the five senses to get the reader to feel emotionally connected to your argument. For example, you could turn this plain sentence, “A cure for AIDS can be found,” into a more descriptive and emotive sentence like “Imagine telling a person living with AIDS that a cure is on the verge of reality.” Of course, you’d have to follow up with
4. FOCUS ON ONE SIDE OF THE ARGUMENT
Don’t try to argue both sides of the issue. It will be confusing for any reader (and probably for you, too!). Focus on one side of the argument and use your word count effectively to support your points.
5. USE CONCRETE EVIDENCE TO AMPLIFY YOUR POINT
A sure-fire way to convince your readers of your point is to use concrete examples, provide statistics or facts, or cite experts in the field. This evidence will provide perspective, help you explain complex ideas, and support your arguments. But make sure your evidence is credible. Your whole argument can fall apart if your supporting evidence is found to be false or unreliable. And remember, supporting examples should come from not just one but a variety of credible sources.
6. KEEP ORGANISED
A well-written essay has a smooth flow with all the paragraphs linked to one another with skillful transition phrases and sentences. Make sure your essay follows the standard essay structure used for academic writing. The purpose behind an organised structure is to allow your readers to follow your train of thought and your line of persuasion. .
7. USE ACTIVE LANGUAGE
The tone of persuasive writing should convey certainty or confidence in your perspective. One way you can do this is by using the active voice. Active voice is generally more purposeful, direct, and assertive. What’s the difference between the active voice and the passive voice? Check out the example below:
Passive voice: The research conducted by the University has received support from an international organization.
Active voice: An international organization supports the research conducted by the University.
See the difference? If you do that’s great. If you don’t no worries, we know it can be a bit hard to tell between the two so we’ve got a blog coming out soon for you on the difference between the active and passive voice.
Again, when you proofread your essay make sure to edit out any words or phrases that imply uncertainty such as “could have”, “might,” “may,” etc. This practice is relevant for any essay but especially so for a persuasive essay.
Put all these steps in practice when writing so you can persuade, persuade, persuade.