How to Write a Persuasive Text

Persuasive writing intends to convince the reader of a stated opinion or belief. Arguments attempt to persuade the reader to agree with a certain viewpoint and sometimes they also want action to be taken – they exhort people to take action.

Tips for Successful Persuasive Writing:

  • Make sure you know your purpose and audience
  • Use appropriate tone
  • Employ a range or persuasive techniques including emotive language, rhetorical questions, analogy and various appeals.

The Structure of a Persuasive Text:

INTRODUCTION

The statement of position (thesis)

 

The position the writer is taking, background information and a preview of the reasons is presented.

·         Attention-grabber: A statement, visual or sound (or combination) that startles gains attention and makes your audience sit up.

BODY

Reasons and examples to elaborate position

Arguments

·         Reasons are given and elaborated on to strengthen the argument.

·         Each paragraph starts with a topic sentence containing an assertion. Arguments should show logical progression.

·         The elaboration may include statistics, quotes, evidence and examples to support each reason.

·         Paragraph structure:

–      State argument

–      State a reason

–      Give an example

–      Restate the point

CONCLUSION

Conclusion re-statement of position.

Conclusion – Summarises the position presented and may give a concluding recommendation or a prediction. Usually includes a recommendation for action.

 

·         Call-to-Action: e.g. “I encourage you to …”, “Let’s all contribute …” , “… sign now …”, “make a decision now to be involved …”

When Speaking…

Pausing – pauses can be added in many places to add impact to your communication.

  • Pause before a punch line or particularly important point to increase tension and add emphasis. Pausing at irregular points can also increase tension.
  • Pause after a punch line or important points in order to let it sink in.
  • Combine pauses with dramatic action, such as uncovering a new product, pointing to something important, etc.
  • In written text, use commas, colons, semicolons, dashes and ellipsis to introduce delay.

Persuasive writing Techniques

Exaggeration – A writer may describe a situation in forceful, overblown language in order to make the issue seem more important or urgent than it may otherwise be considered. Exaggerating the scale of an issue can draw an emotional response from a reader: also known as hyperbole.

Example text: Councils are losing the war against vandals.

Emphasis – There are three types of emphasis that writers use to draw the reader’s attention to a specific point or idea: repetition, cumulative and alliteration.

Repetition – Repeating a single word a number of times over is repetition.

Example text: We will all suffer for years to come unless we stop this government, stop them in the workplace, stop them in the polls, and stop them on Election Day.

Evidence – There are three main types of evidence: Anecdotal; Expert Opinion and Statistical

Anecdotal evidence

An anecdote is a tale involving real life events, a true story. Such stories can be used by writers as evidence to back their claims. To support a contention, and to make themselves appear more credible, writers often use personal anecdotes.

Example text: I can tell you that, as a single mother of two, I received very little in the way of financial support during my attempts to return to fulltime work.

Expert opinion

To make a writer’s position seem more credible, they may quote the opinions of experts that correspond with their own. As in a court case, experts are often called on to make one side seem stronger and more believable.

Example text: My stand on the issue of exposed underwear is supported by fashion designer Ruby Reed, who recently stated: “Anyone whose underwear is exposed due to low slung jeans should be punished as forcefully as possible.”

Statistical evidence

Like any form of evidence, statistics can be used to make an argument seem more conclusive, a writer’s opinion more valid. Often statistics are used that are out of context, or from unreliable sources. As the saying goes, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Example text: A recent survey found that 90% of students favoured no school uniforms at all.

Specific language features

Adverb opener – use an adverb at the beginning of a sentence

·       Obviously…

·       Naturally…

·       Evidently…

·       Clearly…

·       Of course…

Example text: Obviously you need peace of mind, and this insurance product will give it to you.

You’re naturally unhappy because you’re living with a fool.

Of course it’s expensive, but only the best is good enough.

Rhetorical questions

Rhetorical questions are persuasive, because they often make the writer sound sincere and passionate about the issue.

Cumulative – Using many similar words in a short space is cumulative. Usually nouns or adjectives.

Example text: This task requires guts, determination, grit and willpower.

Appealing to Reason – Remember that an argument is an appeal to a person’s sense of reason; it is not a violent fight, dispute, or disagreement.  It is a measured, logical way of trying to persuade others to agree with you.

Appealing to Emotion- The logical appeal is certainly an extremely persuasive tool.  However, our human nature also lets us be influenced by our emotions. One way of evoking emotion in your reader is to use vivid images

Humour Try fitting in sensible and pertinent humour as it refreshes the audience, compels them to reflect on the subject and enhances their receptivity. So, comedy is a convincing element in persuading crowd.

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