The art of persuasion

Good writing is good for your career. It gets you noticed, builds relationships and drives sales. So how can we write with more impact? Here are five tips to help you be more persuasive.

1. Have clear purpose

End goal

Before you start to write, have a clear goal in mind. What do you want the reader to do as a result of your writing?

A lot of writing fails due to unclear purpose.  Without it, emails don’t receive replies, blogs and websites don’t get noticed, and presentations don’t lead to further dialogue and leads.

2. Focus on the reader

The art of persuasion in writing

Clearly show the benefit to the reader straight away. How will they be better off from hearing what you have to say? Identify their desired future and confirm you’re the best person to help.

Focus your writing from the reader’s point of view. Have twice as many yous as wes and I’s. A simple example is instead of writing we’ll be sending you, write you’ll receive.

3. Trim the fat

Writing to persuade

Great writers are ruthless editors. Get rid of unnecessary words and phrases like:

  • office jargon/corporate speak (blue sky thinking, touch base, no brainer)
  • ‘fluffy’ phrases (as a consequence of instead of because, in the event of instead of in case)
  • lazy describing words (very, quite, significantly, etc.) and
  • tautology (repeating the same meaning: working in partnership together, completely accurate).

When we write less we often say more. People will trust you more if you’re concise and straightforward.

4. Choose the right words

Writing to persuade

Use everyday words. Churchill did not say we shall commence hostilities on the coastal perimeter.

Go for more informal Germanic derived words like ask and answer ahead of their Latin equivalents of request and respond. If you wouldn’t say it outside work, don’t use it in your writing.

Keep your sentences short to make them easy to read. 24 words should be the maximum. Read it out loud. If you have to pause for breath, break it up.

5. Tell stories

Writing to persuade

An important principle of good writing is to ‘show, don’t tell’. Your company might call itself dynamic, say, but how does that work in practice? What does your dynamism look like? What is the end result?

Be specific—use concrete words, not vague terms. Select words the reader can touch, feel or hear to be memorable. Use metaphors to make complicated ideas simple and ‘active’ language to be clear.

You’ll get chance to practise all the above at the next Writing to Persuade.

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