8 Elements of Persuasive Writing

As writers, we desire to influence.

Without that goal, it is pointless to even bother writing.

When you write, you present your audience with a position and you try to show them why agreeing with you is in their best interest. Sometimes you win, and earn with a powerful piece that readers connect and agree with.

Sadly though, sometimes you lose and your attempt to convince falls flat on its face.

In this post I have highlighted eight elements of persuasive writing that can tilt the balance favourably for your writing and help you convince and move any audience to take favourable action.

These strategies are not new. In fact, they are time-tested.

They have been used over the years because they work. Add this in your portfolio and edify your writings.

Focus on the reader

Your readers need to know from the start why they need to read on.

The headline should be a promise statement that is expanded in the opening paragraphs. That early in your message, the benefits stick out like a sore thumb.

Never allow the reader bother why they should bother. When they get to that point, it may be difficult to capture their attention again.

The focus on the reader should also reflect when you make an offer.

Whether you are selling an idea or a product, you need to present your offer with boldness to your reader. The benefit of consistency in your message will project you as having integrity and trust will grow.

Use Comparisons

We learn by association.

When you relate your ideas to what your readers already holds as true, most of your work is done for you.

Are you using metaphors strategically in your writing?

While metaphors have become everyday expressions, they can be very useful as strategic assets in your linguistic toolbox.

Just a shift in the position of a word or phrase can alter the meaning and make the difference between the success or failure of your communication.

Be positive, not negative.

Half full vs. half empty?

That’s not where I am coming from this time.

According to Michel Fortin, it is better to use up words when you intend to influence.

Hear him:

By stating what something isn’t can be counterproductive since it is still directing the mind, albeit in the opposite way. If I told you that dental work is painless for example, you’ll still focus on the word “pain” in “painless.”

• Instead of saying “inexpensive,” say “economical,”
• Instead of saying “this procedure is painless,” say “there’s little discomfort” or “it’s relatively comfortable,”
• And instead of saying “this software is error-free” or “foolproof,” say “this software is consistent” or “stable.”

Show Social Proof

social proof

In making decisions, we look to our peers to muster up boldness and to convince ourselves that the path ahead is not lonely. We are social creatures, and do not feel safe in decisions that are not collaborated.

When you link to authorities that share your views, you are leveraging a form of social proof.

When you display a large number of Feedburner subscribers, that may likely lead to faster subscriber growth, while displaying a low number can hurt you. You may be familiar with the fact that blog reader comments lead to more comments, and that displaying incoming links can get more persons to link to your post.

Social media is all about social proof. It is the world saying defiantly, you are not alone.

Repeat a phrase

Repetition is a good way to establish rhythm in your writing and pull your readers in.

When used in moderation, repetition is your friend, but overused it can reduce your writing to trash.

Calls to action present an opportunity to use repetition to good effect. Another time when repetitions can be useful is in communicating complicated information. When you are writing every day advice we have read a thousand times before, it is best to avoid repetition if possible, since on its own the information can be boring.

Empathize

This one trait separates compelling writers from make-by writers, and it is not so much about grammar or vocabulary as you may think.

How this works is by first of all identifying your audience’s pain points. After the identification of the pain, you can apply gentle pressure on the pain points – a process referred to as agitation – before offering solutions that can take the pain away.

Understanding how your reader thinks is very important when writing persuasively. That insight will enable you anticipate objections and proffer satisfactory explanations.

The value of your solution goes up a notch if your writing demonstrates that you both understand and feel your audience’s pain.

Tell a Story

This is my favourite tool of persuasion.

Humans process information better when they are presented as stories. This is because stories do not force conclusions, but allows the reader to arrive at one ‘independently’. As a result, they are easier to remember.

There is nothing as easy to forget as a dry recitation of facts.

Despite that, what we see in most marketing communications are facts on facts on facts.

“Our product has this, does this and is better than this.”

That doesn’t stick.

If you want your writings to be animated with vibrancy and life, if you want your writing to be memorable, you need to turn your facts into stories.

No passive voice

Passive voice gives you away as deficient in the technical knowledge of grammar.

If someone’s doing something, it’s active. If something was done by someone, it’s passive.

What makes passive sentences less effective?

They suck the live out of your writings and leave your sentences flabby and lifeless. On the other hand, active sentences are full of energy, compact and immediate.

For example:

  • Passive: The plate was broken by the boy.
  • Active: The boy broke the plate.

Notice how passive voice uses more words without adding information — usually a sign of fluffy writing.

Passive voice is not always wrong. When used in the minimum, they can add balance to your structure and make your writing more realistic. The emphasis is the word “minimum”.

I have listed just 8 elements here and this list is far from complete. What other elements of persuasive writing do you employ in your writing?

About Yeremi Akpan

Yeremi Akpan is the founder of Pro Blogger Tips. Connect with him on Twitter, Google Plus and Facebook. You can also hire him to provide content marketing services for your business.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for these great tips. I am start using “No Passive Voice” right now.
    Dart Wooden’s Empower Network recently posted..Are you part of the 54%My Profile

  2. Bhushan says:

    Hello there,
    I think this post will help to newbies but i think it can be for Oldies also.I can’t use that type of sentence because it is difficult for me.Thanks for that post Mate.
    Bhushan recently posted..Computer Inventory SoftwareMy Profile

  3. Hi Yeremi, another great post, I love using metaphors, so much so my good lady says… ‘wait here comes the analogy or metaphor’… lol She knows me so well.

    Stories are an incredibly way to pass on information and also to remember information. That is why the Icelandic people pass on their nations history through song and stories.

    I love the idea about passive and active voices in writing, I have never thought about it before and it is possible that I have written many posts in a passive voice.

    Cheers for now
    Andi
    Andi the Minion recently posted..Long Tail Keywords: The Golden Egg of Free Traffic?My Profile

  4. Julia Reed says:

    Hi,
    I just wanted to say thanks you for this post. Yes, these strategies are not breaking news for most bloggers. However, I love the manner in which you present them. Thank you for reminding of these amazing time-proven strategies (especially the one about positive writing).
    Julia Reed recently posted..College Halloween Costumes: Unique Ideas for Cheap OutfitsMy Profile

  5. Yeremi Akpan says:

    Hi Julia,
    Quite true, these strategies are timeless, but sometimes we can forget them in our hurry.

    Thanks for your kind words.
    Yeremi Akpan recently posted..8 Elements of Persuasive WritingMy Profile

  6. Adrienne says:

    Wow Yeremi!

    You can tell I’m no writer because I haven’t been doing a lot of what you’ve shared here. Even some of the verbiage that Michael recommended, I would never have thought of that.

    Now the story telling I think I have down but I don’t catch myself repeating things too much. Probably a time or two.

    Okay, I have some lessons to brush up on now. Thanks for sharing this and giving me something to think about.

    Great share Yeremi!

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted..Discover The Mystery Behind Alexa RankingsMy Profile

    • Yeremi Akpan says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      I found myself doing a “me-take” too after reading Michel’s post. As writers we have so much learning to do to make our craft better and more deliberate.

      I am pleased this post contained something to learn from. (You are most kind!)

      Heading over to your blog. I am interested on your take on this Alexa thing. ;)
      Yeremi Akpan recently posted..8 Elements of Persuasive WritingMy Profile

  7. Yeremi Akpan says:

    Hi Adrienne,

    I found myself doing a “me-take” too after reading Michel’s post. As writers we have so much learning to do to make our craft better and more deliberate.

    I am pleased this post contained something to learn from. (You are most kind!)

    Heading over to your blog. I am interested on your take on this Alexa thing. ;)

  8. Felicia says:

    Hi Yeremi,
    I believe this is my first visit on your blog. I came via Amazing Bloggers.

    Regarding your post, I know how to write, but I guess I never knew what persuasive writing really meant and how it is really done. I implement some of the tips your mentioned with I write on my personal blog, but actually I was not aware I was doing some persuasive writing techniques.. kinda weird, right?

    Anyways, when I write in most of my posts, I usually tell a story, and I try to think of real-life experiences to share whenever I can so that my readers will be able to easily relate to my topics.

    I agree also that using passive voice in your sentences can make your post rather dry, but I think I sometimes write in passive voice and I guess it does not annoy any of my readers, well so far nobody’s complaining.

    Thanks for sharing these useful tips!
    Felicia recently posted..Cabdriver Found $221k In the Back Seat of His VanMy Profile

  9. Jessie B says:

    very encouraging article for budding writers like me who are just willing to spread the wings and fly free in this writing world. all points mentioned above by you are true and really trustworthy as your own writing style encourages readers to read your complete article. Well i liked the point of using passive style of writing in balance. high five to you.
    :D
    Jessie B recently posted..Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola – comedy movie of Imran Khan & Anushka SharmaMy Profile

    • Yeremi Akpan says:

      Hi Jessie,
      I am glad to know you pass so high a vote of trust on my content. And it surely feels good too to know that you read my posts to the end.

      The web is a crowded place and without deliberate effort to get in the mind of your readers, they would find nothing that connects them to your content.

      Thanks for your kind words and I can’t wait to stop by your blog for a look see.

  10. Jessie B says:

    very encouraging article for budding writers like me who are just willing to spread the wings and fly free in this writing world. all points mentioned above by you are true and really trustworthy as your own writing style encourages readers to read your complete article. Well i liked the point of using passive style of writing in balance. high five to you star writer.
    :D
    Jessie B recently posted..Charming Actor Abhay Deol Movies ListMy Profile

  11. Chadrack says:

    Writing a piece of persuasive content should really be the target of every blogger. Blogging is about connecting with your readers in your posts and I must say every one of your points here stands. The one I will always go with any day any time is writing with empathy. If you get this right, your blog posts will always create an impact that will result in positive outcomes!
    Chadrack recently posted..The Watertight Strategy for effectively Writing Content for SEO in A Post-Penguin Internet!My Profile

  12. Ranjan says:

    Hi Yeremi an excellent post again,
    One more thing about persuasive writing is that, start with a deep first paragraph and go more deeper in the middle of your content or article because of most of the readers get bored in the middle, and they read with fast scroll. Thanks for your great and informative post.
    Ranjan recently posted..How to Prepare For InterviewMy Profile

  13. Yeremi, you have some good ideas about writing. I can see my style could benefit a lot from your changes, thanks
    Michael Belk @ethical behavior recently posted..Energy drinks blamed for deaths. Drink makers accused of unethical labeling.My Profile

  14. Alyssa says:

    It’s a great Article, but why do you seem to never have numbers beside your Top X lists? I don’t know about others, but its nice to know which number I’m on so that I know how many I have left to read.
    Alyssa recently posted..ANGULAR CHEILITIS TREATMENT – Home Remedy updated Mon Nov 26 2012 10:58 am ESTMy Profile

  15. Sapna says:

    Hi Yeremi

    This was something I was looking for and now I have bookmarked it for my future references. Hope the link won’t break :)

    I will give my best to inculcate that in my writing.

    Thanks for that, a great knowledge shared.

    Sapna
    Sapna recently posted..A Day in Naive Bloggers Life – Part 2(Infographics)My Profile

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