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How to Write Persuasively
Transcript of How to Write Persuasively
How to write persuasively (and how not to)
You may think...
...that the best way to write persuasively is to cram your writing from top to bottom with 'persuasive devices':
Rhetorical questions ('How would you like it?')
The 'rule of three' ('This is cruel, unnecessary and barbaric!'
Direct address ('Only YOU can make a difference!')
Facts and figures ('99.9% of people agree!')
While these devices can be a useful tool when writing persuasively, they are not an end in themselves.
Too many students crowbar these devices into their writing without any thought as to WHO they're writing for or WHY they're writing.
How not to do it
I'm writing to let you know that your uniform policy is cruel, unfair and barbaric. 96% of my year group agree with me. Are you going to listen to us? Well, are you? Thought not!
I'm going to offer you some advice on how you can make up for this mess that you've made. If I were you, I'd pay close attention...
So what should you do?
Put yourself in your reader's shoes
As you write each sentence, imagine being on the receiving end of it. Would it persuade you? Or would it make you feel hectored, patronised or offended?
Remember: too many persuasive devices can make your writing less effective. Use them sparingly!
How to get your reader 'on side'
Be calm and rational.
Avoid needless hyperbole.
Remember that a good argument will be more persuasive than a thousand rhetorical questions.
Acknowledge other points of view - it'll make you seem more reasonable.
Treat your reader as a human being.
Use humour where appropriate.
Keep your audience in mind at all times.
Who are they?
How would they like to be addressed?
What kind of language will get them on side?
Never lose sight of your purpose.
What is your writing trying to achieve?
How can you use language to help your writing achieve its aim(s)?