8 Persuasive Writing Tips (With Examples)
Updated September 30, 2022
Persuasive writing aims to convince people to believe the writer's point of view. This type of writing can help you communicate ideas, gain support for a movement or increase the potential of a successful sale. In this article, we define persuasive writing, discuss why it's important, describe different roles that use persuasive writing and provide eight strategies for using persuasive writing, with examples.
What is persuasive writing?
Persuasive writing uses evidence-based logic, emotional language and ethical appeals to illustrate an opinion or point of view. Persuasive writing may also encourage readers to take a particular action or agree with a new way of thinking.
People often use persuasive writing for different purposes throughout their careers, from writing cover letters for a new job to publishing essays in professional journals.
Why is persuasive writing important?
Persuasive writing provides guidance for framing an argument and a way of organizing the pros and cons of an issue into one document. This type of writing can help you develop critical thinking skills and build your self-confidence. You can also use persuasive writing to gain support for a new cause, such as using green products, or in updating outdated processes, such as incorporating a new office policy.
8 tips for persuasive writing
Consider these eight tips to help improve your persuasive writing:
1. Choose your topic
Choose and research the topic of your writing and the specific actions you want your readers to take. If you’re an expert in a certain field, you can use your experience to guide your topic choice. In any case, the more passionate you feel about the topic, the stronger your writing is likely to be.
2. Offer credible reasons
Explain why you're adopting a particular perspective on a topic. People often look to understand the scope and meaning of a situation before they adjust their own opinions or accept a call to action, so providing that information may help them reach a conclusion faster.
Here is an example of this strategy used in persuasive writing:
Swimming is a great way to exercise and cool off during the warm summer months. Purchasing a three-month membership to our gym includes access to our outdoor pool and a place to enjoy the sunny season with your family.
3. Use deliberate language
Use strong verbs and adjectives, words that create an emotional response and language that encourages a specific call to action. Using personal pronouns like "we" or "us" can make readers feel like part of the larger conversation.
Here is a way you can use deliberate language in persuasive writing:
My mentor’s poetry is vivid and hopeful, letting us know she understands the pain of loss but also encouraging us to believe that healing and happiness are always within our reach.
4. Incorporate anecdotes
Anecdotes are brief stories that illustrate your point. You can use them to highlight your evidence and generate sympathy for your perspective. As anecdotes often provide an accessible context, they may be especially helpful when writing about a particular cause or while promoting a product with which your target audience may be unfamiliar.
Here is a way you can use an anecdote in persuasive writing:
Many years ago, I met a lawyer who loved his job but also wanted to write a novel. He decided to take an online novel writing class and cleared his schedule so that he could write on Sunday mornings. It took him two years and many drafts but he was able to finish and self-publish his novel without quitting his lucrative day job.
5. Address counterpoints
Provide a contrasting perspective on your topic to help illustrate how your own is more credible. Consider researching a perspective that's similarly logical and has support from other people so you can effectively counter it. Readers may view a balanced argument as authentic since you acknowledge that a differing opinion may exist while still committing to your own.
Here is one way to present counterpoints:
Some people say that purchasing recycling bags is expensive and it’s more cost-effective to use paper or plastic bags. But when you consider that a reusable bag can be used many times, and the fact that most stores now charge up to seven cents for paper or plastic bags, it’s become more economical to purchase reusable bags when you shop.
Related: 15 Common Logical Fallacies Examples
6. Include an expert opinion when possible
Find a highly respected leader in the field or industry you're addressing who has the same opinions about the topic or product as you do. Carefully incorporate direct or paraphrased quotes from them in arguments to give more evidence of their credibility. Showing that someone else with a potentially recognizable name supports your stance may add a crucial element of believability to your argument.
Here's one way to include an expert's opinion in persuasive writing:
Some areas require different approaches than others. As Dr. Hansen stated in her seminal analysis on food distribution, "It's important to triage areas with lower percentages of fresh produce access to ensure they have the support they need."
7. Ask rhetorical questions
Rhetorical questions are questions you ask without expecting someone to answer. You can use rhetorical questions to address the reader directly and emphasize a particular point. This strategy may help readers take time to reflect on the writing to generate a hypothetical response, which engages them in your point of view.
Here is an example of a rhetorical question used in persuasive writing:
Setting new exercise goals can be a challenge, but it's important to remember you are often your own best ally. How are you encouraging yourself to find time to exercise today?
8. Repeat your main point
Be sure to start and end your persuasive writing with the point you are trying to make and with a clear call to action for your reader. Make sure that the reader has no doubt how you feel about your topic and how you hope your reader will feel as well.
For example, a candidate running for public office will state their main reasons for running against their opponent, why these reasons are important to the community, how things will improve if they are elected and how things will get worse if they lose.
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