How to persuade a reader

  • When writing to persuade, try to convince the reader to agree with your viewpoint.
  • Persuasive writing in non-fiction can be in the form of a speech, a letter, an advert or even a magazine article.
  • There are lots of techniques you can use to make your writing more persuasive.
Learn how to persuade a reader using a variety of techniques

Persuasive writing should present a viewpoint in a confident and convincing way. It should be:

  • passionate and personal
  • focused on one side of the argument

Techniques to persuade

There are many different techniques that can be used to persuade a reader and you can use a selection of these techniques in your writing. A good starting point is to remember the word ‘persuade’. Each letter of this word stands for a writing technique that can be used to persuade, for example when writing about the argument against animal testing.

P is for personal tone - use language that includes the reader and makes them feel involved.

For example, ‘Many animal lovers, like yourself, will be horrified by these facts.’

E is for emotive language - use words that have a strong emotional impact on the reader.

For example, ‘The animals are killed’ could be replaced by ‘The animals are slaughtered’. The word ‘slaughtered’ is more emotive than the word ‘killed’.

R is for rhetorical questions - use questions to make the reader think about your viewpoint.

For example, ‘Do we really want our planet to survive?’

S is for say again - repeat key points to reinforce your most important ideas.

For example, ‘Time is running out to save this species. Time is running out and we must take action.’

U is for undermine opposing arguments - show that you recognise an opposing viewpoint and then undermine that argument.

For example, ‘Many people may argue that these tests are essential for the progress of medicine. However, evidence shows that other ways of testing are just as effective.’

A is for anecdotes - use a short, interesting story from real life.

For example, ‘Beanie the dog was in a terrible state, but slowly recovered his cheeky character after some careful treatment and care.’

D is for direct address - use personal pronouns, like ‘you’ and ‘your’, to involve your reader.

For example, ‘You must agree that this is a tragic image.’

E is for exaggeration - use exaggeration to make your point stronger.

For example, ‘This is the greatest tragedy facing our generation.’

More techniques

These are not the only techniques that you can use. There are plenty more that you can choose from. Also consider:

  • Shock tactics - include details or imagery that will shock or surprise the reader and get their attention. For example, ‘For the first time since the destruction of the dinosaurs, we face a global mass extinction of wildlife.'

  • Be convincing - For example, instead of writing, ‘Many people believe that animal testing is a waste of precious life' write, ‘Animal testing is a waste of precious life'. The use of the word ‘is’ makes the statement appear factual and therefore more convincing.

Shocking or surprising points can be used to get a reader's attention

Remember

Stay focused on points that will convince the reader. Effective persuasive writing is confident and uses techniques that help to influence the reader’s opinion.

Look out for other writers who use these techniques. See if you can spot when claims are exaggerated, or when opinions are being used as though they are facts.

Quiz

Find out how much you know about persuading a reader in this short quiz!