Writing assignment series
Persuasive or argumentative essays
In persuasive or argumentative writing, we try to convince others
to agree with our facts, share our values,
accept our argument and conclusions,
and adopt our way of thinking.
Elements toward building a good persuasive essay include
- establishing facts
to support an argument
- clarifying relevant values
for your audience (perspective)
- prioritizing, editing, and/or sequencing
the facts and values in importance to build the argument
- forming and stating conclusions
- "persuading" your audience that your conclusions
are based upon the agreed-upon facts and shared values
- having the confidence
to communicate your "persuasion" in writing
Here are some strategies to complete a persuasive writing assignment:
Write out the questions in your own words.
Think of the questions posed in the assignment
while you are reading and researching. Determine
- any sources that will help you determine their reliability
(as well as for further reference)
- what prejudices lie in the argument
or values that color the facts or the issue
- what you think of the author's argument
List out facts; consider their importance:
prioritize, edit, sequence, discard, etc.
Ask yourself "What's missing?"
What are the "hot buttons" of the issue?
List possible emotions/emotional reactions and recognize them for later use
Start writing a draft!(refer to: Writing essays, the basics)
Start as close as possible to your reading/research
Do not concern yourself with grammar or spelling
- Write your first paragraph
- Introduce the topic
- Inform the reader of your point of view!
- Entice the reader to continue with the rest of the paper!
- Focus on three main points to develop
- Establish flow from paragraph to paragraph
- Keep your voice active
- Quote sources
to establish authority
- Stay focused
on your point of view throughout the essay
- Focus on logical arguments
- Don't lapse into summary
in the development--wait for the conclusion
Summarize, then conclude, your argument
Refer to the first paragraph/opening statement as well as the main points
- does the conclusion restate the main ideas?
- reflect the succession and importance of the arguments
- logically conclude their development?
- Edit/rewrite the first paragraph
to better telegraph your development and conclusion.
- Take a day or two off!
- Re-read your paper
with a fresh mind and a sharp pencil
- Ask yourself:
Does this make sense? Am I convinced?
Will this convince a reader?
Will they understand my values, and agree with my facts?
- Edit, correct, and re-write as necessary
- Check spelling and grammar!
- Have a friend read it and respond to your argument.
Were they convinced?
- Revise if necessary
- Turn in the paper
- Celebrate a job well done,
with the confidence that you have done your best.
- Ask yourself:
How to respond to criticism:
Consider criticism as a test of developing your powers of persuasion.
Try not to take it personally.
If your facts are criticized,
double check them, and then cite your sources.
If your values are criticized,
sometimes we need agree "to disagree". Remember: your success in persuading others assumes that the other person is open to being persuaded!
Fear: If you are not used to communicating,
especially in writing, you may need to overcome fear on several levels. Writing, unlike unrecorded speech, is a permanent record for all to see, and the "context" is not as important as in speech where context "colors" the words. For example: your readers do not see you, only your words. They do not know what you look like, where you live, who you are.
Hopefully in school, and class, we have a safe place
to practice both the art of writing and of persuasion. Then later, when we are in our communities, whether work, church, neighborhoods, and even families, we can benefit from this practice.
Persuasion also has another dimension:
it is built with facts, which illustrate conclusions. Of course, this means you need to know what you are talking about, and cannot be lazy with your facts, or you will not succeed in convincing anyone. This shows another level of fear: Fear of making a mistake that will make your argument or persuasion meaningless. Since you are writing, and the words are on paper for all to see (or on a web site!), you need to work to make sure your facts are in order.
Writing for the "Web" | The five-paragraph essay | Essays for a literature class |Thanks to the inspiration of S Ryder, and her sixth grade class in Pennsylvania, for revision of this Guide
Expository essays | Persuasive essays | Position papers | Open book exams |
Essay Exams | White papers | Lab reports/scientific papers |
Research proposals | Elements of a Research Paper
Seven stages of writing assignments | "Lessons learned" | Deadlines
Writing persuasive copy is the goal of every professional copywriter. Persuading readers to agree with you can help convert them into paying customers. While it can prove challenging at times, persuasive copywriting can be learned and perfected by following some basic techniques.
Here are 17 persuasive writing techniques that are a combination of psychological methods and proven strategies to gain your readers’ trust and get them to agree with you.
1. Focus On Your Best Audience
Writers tend to cast a wide net, hoping to influence everyone. However, focusing on the people who are most likely to benefit from the content and writing for them will bring better results.
2. Tell Them Why
Readers are constantly bombarded with messages on a daily basis. If you want their attention, justify it with a good reason up front, preferably something that will benefit them.
3. Rely on a Proven Copywriting Formula
Copywriting formulas exist solely to help copywriters persuade readers. There are several excellent copywriting formulas that are both effective and easy to remember, and it’s well worth your time to learn a handful of them.
4. Use the Right Tone of Voice
What you say is important, but how you say it is vital. Tone influences how your reader perceives your message, so decide which one will be most effective then use it consistently.
5. Be Authoritative
Establish yourself as an authority up front and be consistent in backing up that authority with proof, statistics and examples. Be honest and transparent, don’t waver, and pretty soon your audience will believe you.
6. Take The Reader’s Point of View
If you were the reader, what would grab your attention? When you are writing persuasive copy, you have to become the reader to understand what appeals to them.
7. Show That You Understand
Before you can persuade your reader, you must establish that you are just like them in some way. Perhaps you share the same problem or have similar desires. Find a mutual connection and state it early on.
8. Tell a Story
From the time we are old enough to understand language, humans are suckers for a good story that makes us feel. Anecdotes, especially when backed by facts, are a great way to connect with your readers on an emotional level.
9. Tell Both Sides of the Story
There is always another side of the story. Unlike addressing objections, telling the other side of the story allows you to paint a compelling picture of what life would be like without your product or service. It would be awful. Tell them.
10. Use Influential Words
To write persuasive copy, use persuasive “action” words like miracle, discovery, discount, and bargain. Use uplifting words like vitality, grace, wisdom, and confidence. Finally, make sure your copy has ‘Free’, ’How’, ’New’ and ‘You’ in abundance.
11. Simplify & Amplify
Simplify your core ideas into hard-hitting individual thoughts, then amplify them with the help of things that are important to the reader. Use words that help empower your readers. Get! Learn! Results! Now!
12. Be Specific
Place a laser focus on specific facts and benefits. For example:
- 90% of customers see results in 2 weeks or less!
- Results can be seen in 2 weeks.
The first line is more specific, making it more persuasive.
13. Be Repetitive
If you’ve said it once, you can say it again. Repetition is a time-honored tactic for remembering anything. Use it to your advantage.
14. Address Objections
Even the most agreeable readers will likely have objections, and you are much better off addressing them up front than waiting for your potential customer to voice them. This is another means of establishing authority, and also tells your reader that you have thought the matter through.
15. Show Proof
As previously mentioned, showing proof helps establish you as an authority on the subject, and shows your reader that you respect them.
16. Focus on Headline Psychology
Headlines matter. If the headline is not catchy enough for a click, the rest of the content will fall flat. Make sure that the headline is psychologically stimulating and interesting to your readers. However, don’t sacrifice clarity for the sake of flash. Your headlines should be catchy but concise.
17. Be Consistent
State your position up front, then proceed to be unfailingly consistent in backing it up with facts, stats and proof. Essentially, you want your readers to trust you. A reader who trusts you will tend to agree with you, and nothing builds trust more effectively than being consistent.
18. Use These Tips to Get Results Immediately
So you’ve delivered a punchy hook to start off your article. Your reader is intrigued.
But you want them to keep reading, right? Follow these tips to help your reader see it through to the end.
First, though, don’t go too far. If you promise your reader a spaceship when you can’t even afford a bike, they’ll be irritated – and you’ll lose trust points.
19. Use Simple Language
Don’t overload your content.
Write as simply as possible.
Make your message accessible to every reader.
Don’t use complex terminology unless you need to. If you do need to, explain it in simple words.
Copyblogger’s 21 juicy prompts that inspire fascinating content says that content which is simple, short and easy to understand leads to thousands of shares, which makes your work affordable and pretty simple.
You should be able to explain even the most complex processes in simple phrases. We all have a lot going on in our lives –- your text should be a place where the reader can relax and enjoy interesting, straightforward information.
20. Be Precise
People love details. Using detail in your writing shows that you’re a person who really knows what you’re writing about – a person to be trusted. Be as specific as you can.
Visibility and accessibility should be your main principles.
Here is a simple example. Why is GSM Arena at the top of Google’s results for searches containing the words “phone review”? Because GSM Arena shows all the details the readers are looking for. Xiaomi Mi Max’s review contains NINE pages of information about mobiles. It has details about anything that you could possibly ask for.
21. “Sir! Yes, Sir!”
Use all of your imagination to create a situation in which the reader will agree with you.
It’s very easy to do. Make some general statements or ask questions that are difficult to challenge. Ask questions where the only possible answer is YES.
Here are some examples:
- “Do you want to be healthy?”
- “Do you want to earn good money?”
- “Do you want to live in peace?”
- “You want to be great dad, right?”
A reader who agrees with the author is much easier to convince.
22. Predict Your Reader
Anticipate the reader's questions, and answer them before they’re even asked – before they’ve even thought about.
Neutralize possible questions before they even appear. Comprehensive information is exactly what your reader is looking for.
23. Prove it!
It’s easy to write persuasive text if you can back up your claims with facts and studies. Numbers and percentages have the best effect. They’re your strongest tools for convincing readers.
24. Be Specific
Use real-life examples. We believe in examples we can relate to.
It’s easy to say: “Do this, do that.” But how can you apply it in real life?
Examples from the real world make material understandable. They make readers think, “If someone else achieved this, why can't I?”
25. Touch the Emotions
Evoke emotion in the reader.
As we know, emotions are the main motivation behind making a purchases or sealing a business deal.
Emotions awaken desire. As Napoleon Hill said: “The starting point of all achievement is desire.”
26. Use Greatness
Cite great wisdom. Well-chosen quotes from successful people will elevate your text to the next level. A couple of good quotes from well-known experts in the field will help you to make your material more compelling.
27. Use Structure
Divide your articles into paragraphs, headings, subheadings and lists. These increase the visual appeal of the text. Paragraphs should contain between 2 and 5 sentences, and no more. That will make it much easier for your reader to digest your material. Numbered lists can:
- add interest
- give the reader a break
- help the reader to remember what you’re saying.
None of these techniques alone will win over your readers, but combined strategically and used wisely, they can help you write persuasive copy that will turn readers into customers.
28. Call to Action
Have conversations. Involve your readers. Make readers feel that you’re really interested in their comments, and that you won’t abandon them.
Create a community by asking questions, seeking opinions, inviting comments, initiating polls, setting up contests, and sparking controversy. Use your creativity.
Be sure it’s easy for readers to get involved, and always keep things polite and cheery.
29. Make it Right
The web is littered with low-quality content. No matter how interesting and useful your text is, grammatical errors will spoil the impression of your content – and give a bad impression of the author.
Text with grammatical errors is like a road with potholes.
In order to write well, read a lot. Use your dictionary, spell check and grammar check. Brush up on your school rules. Have someone proofread your article. And keep writing.
30. Draw Your Text
If you can express your idea in a few pictures, rather than 10 paragraphs of text, use the pictures! What would you rather share on social networks – a picture or a link to text?
Infographics are a great way to get your ideas across.
Modern readers are reluctant to spend a lot of time reading, but they’re quick to register and interpret visual information.
Images are an incredibly efficient way to organize information and make things a little less formal. They’ll also save your readers some precious time – and they’ll thank you for that.
31. Use Your Imagination
Writing that tells a story makes is so much more special than that which is only informative.
Story-telling awakens our imagination and makes your message relatable to the reader. It’s also far more interesting to read. Use words such as “imagine”, “see” and “remember”.
Want to learn more? Check out the Writtent Academy for information and tips on how to write effective and persuasive copy.
Mar 2nd, 2017Last update