Persuasion is simply about creating a win-win situation.
In writing, this means you present a case that readers find beneficial to agree with. Either because it relates to them on an emotional level and strengthens their own beliefs or because you make them an offer they can’t refuse.
Whilst your case and supporting argument will depend on the topic, there are some timeless techniques that can make your writing more persuasive. Notably, this list is in no way comprehensive but it consists of six techniques that are used frequently, why? Because they work.
Pick a stance and stick with it. Avoid ambiguity and contradictions. Your audience should understand from the beginning where you stand and what you intend to argue. If your reader has to guess your stance, you’ve already lost them. State your position obviously from the start, and restate it as you go along (see below for appropriate repetition). Use a powerful and clearly worded statement in your opening paragraph, and use it as a reference point as you develop your argument.
Every learning psychologyist will tell you that repetition is crucial. It’s also critical in persuasive writing since a person can’t agree with you if they don’t actually get your point.
There’s good repetition and bad. To stay on the good side, make your point using several different ways – if you repeat your point, in the same way, you begin to undermine your argument. Different ways to make your point are directly in your opening statement, using a real-life example, in a hypothetical example, via a quote from an expert, and once more in your summary.
Metaphors, similes, and analogies are crucial for persuasive writing. If you can relate your argument to something that the reader already accepts as true, you’re well on your way to winning your audience over.
But comparisons work in other ways too. Sometimes you can be more persuasive by comparing apples to oranges (to use a tired but effective metaphor). Don’t compare the price of your consulting to the price of another person in a similar field, but instead to the consequences of not having consulting.
Agitate and Solve
This technique helps you to make and present a persuasive case. First, you identify the problem. Then you agitate the reader’s pain by discussing the consequences of this problem. Finally, you offer your solution as the answer that will make it all better.
The agitation phase is not about being sadistic; it’s about empathy. You want the reader to know that you understand his problem and can see how it impacts society. The credibility of your solution goes way up if you demonstrate that you truly feel the prospect’s pain.
Glimpse into the future
Another persuasion theme involves providing your readers with a glimpse into the future. If you can convincingly present your argument and show how it’s current impact will influence future events, you are well on your way to convincing your audience to your line of thinking.
This entire strategy is built on credibility. If you have no idea what you’re talking about your argument will be obviously weak. But if you can back up your argument with credentials, evidence or expert opinion, this is an extremely persuasive technique.
Don’t sidestep or ignore potential retort against your argument. This not only helps address your audiences’ doubt with your argument but it also helps them to relate to you, you’re both thinking the same things.
Addressing all the potential objections or at least the majority of your readers doubts can be tough, but if you really know your subject, the arguments against you should be fairly obvious. If you think there are no reasonable objections to your position – you need to think again.