Have you ever read a dry, boring email, blog post, letter, or proposal? If you have, you know how dreadfully non-persuasive they can be. You also know how easy it is to miss the message the author attempted to convey.
If you want to have your message read and acted upon, here are five tips – secrets – for more persuasive writing…
1. Write from your reader’s perspective
Before you start, consider the viewpoint that your readers will likely use as they interpret what you have written. In another post, I wrote about this consideration based on their DISC style, and it is only one of the factors to consider.
Some of the other factors you could consider are:
- Your relationship with them
- Their position in the organization
- Pressures they might be facing
- Anything in their role or relationships that might limit their ability to act on what you propose
- Their past experiences
The list above is not a complete or exhaustive list. It does highlight some of the main items to factor into how you deliver your message and what might affect your persuasive power.
2. Write the way that people read
Consider these two ideas:
- Most business and personal communications are intended to quickly communicate an idea.
- Many people do not like to read long paragraphs and sentences (especially on computer screens).
Unless you are writing a novel or an academic research paper, use short sentences, short paragraphs, and lots of white space.
3. Anticipate and address your reader’s greatest objections
If the purpose of your communication is persuasion, your reader will likely object to something in it. When you write, attempt to anticipate these objections and include information to address them.
4. Use comparisons
For a number of reasons, new ideas tend to bounce off the human brain the way tennis balls bounce off a concrete wall. Comparisons act like glue to link new ideas or difficult concepts to simpler or already accepted ones so that they stick.
A comparison of any kind – metaphor, simile, or analogy – can help your reader to both understand and remember your message so that they take action on it.
5. Tell stories
People tend to experience life as a chronological story and to think about new ideas based on how the new idea fits into the story in their mind. Presenting an idea in a story makes the idea easier to receive. Like comparisons, stories help ideas stick in the mind of your reader.
When my children were young, my wife and I read stories to them. We chose some of the stories for the express intent of teaching them a new idea. For example, we used Green Eggs and Ham to teach the concept of trying new foods before rejecting them. Thinking of the character Sam while we were at the dinner table helped them to visualize what we wanted them to do – try the food before saying “I don’t like it.”
If you can find a way to present your idea with a story, do it. Your writing will be more persuasive.
The danger of writing about how to write better is that, well, it’s in writing. As a result, I run the risk of violating the very secrets that I propose. From your perspective, I may have done just that. If I did, I would welcome constructive comments to help me – and my readers – improve.
If you would like other suggestions, here’s a post over at Copyblogger that also tackles the idea of more persuasive writing.