How to Persuade People

Do you feel the need to persuade someone for something from time to time? How do you do that? Imagine, your favourite theme park has finally opened in your city, but it is miles away. What is worse? The first five hundred visitors get a free pass to any three rides of their choice. But it is a school day. How do you get your parents to take you there? 

The key lies in the language that you use. Be it for an individual or a group of people, the art of persuasion through language is both subtly and overtly used. Let’s look at some examples below: 

1.     Rhetorical questions:

Did you know that a question is always more effective than just a plain statement? Did that make you think? Would you have had the same reaction if it was just a sentence? Are you imagining questions that could be more effective than simply stating the facts? Now do you agree that a plain statement is only passively telling you something without eliciting an action? (Do you also see how the reader has been mildly manipulated by these questions above?)

Reread the last paragraph. Do you see how questions are better than statements? It’s all about rhetorical Questions. They are questions that have obvious answers and it is the author’s way of getting a particular answer from the readers:

I think The Sandcastles is the best fair in the country.

Don’t you think that The Sandcastles is the best fair in the country?

Which according to you sounds better? Or yet, which will elicit the more favourable answer?

2.     Alliteration:

A melting pot of common and complex cultural cuisines that has a contagious effect on everyone that comes close and is constantly calling out to new connoisseurs.

The cry of a helpless puppy in distress can melt even the coldest heart. Warm up your home this winter by adopting a stray.

Did you have a second look at the above examples? Has anyone ever told you to make your language more beautiful, more flowery? Some writings catch more attention than the others. Undisputedly, metaphors and alliterations are at the centre of it. Attract viewers by adding beauty and attractiveness to your pieces. They are the highlights of any writing. They create a rhythm almost like music. Add some emotions to your sentences to bring home the point.

3.     Direct address: 

Imagine this: In a classroom, the teacher needs a volunteer to put up the decorations for the upcoming fair. 

She says, “Would anyone like to volunteer their time this afternoon?  

How many of you will raise your hands? 

What if she said this? “Would you like to volunteer this afternoon?” addressing a particular student. 

Now, would it be possible for the said pupil to say ‘no’? 

Direct address is another effective persuasive method that compels people to take the necessary action. It is all about the psychology of our minds, and all you need to know is that when you point out to a particular person, he/she is more likely to do it than when generally addressing a group of people.

4.     Statistics

Precise statistics and facts are another method to prove your point. It is a fact. It has been proven by established organisations. There can be no dispute regarding the factuality of it. So, use them while making a point:

In the UK alone, the average age of death of homeless people is 43-45 years old.

Advertisements on flyers are likely to attract 26% more customers than those on physical newspapers.

Do you see how precise statistics and facts are more attractive to the readers than simply stating something with vague ideas? Numbers look good on any kind of persuasive genres.

 5.     Rule of three or triples:

Thus, it is established that using the outdoors during a lesson can open the minds to new ideas, break the monotony of a walled classroom and give you a fresh perspective on the same topic.

The Summer School Fair will be fun, educational and memorable.

Three words or three ideas together will emphasise a point and make it memorable. Triples carry an idea forward with more gravity. They reinforce the point and make it sound good at the same time.

 That’s it for today! Now do you feel more confident about your writing techniques? Next time you want to subtly (or overtly) persuade someone, slip in these techniques and create magic!

Remarkable Sketches: Volume 5

This post talks about this week's chosen student assignment - an arresting persuasive speech. Its merits include: effectual vocabulary, appropriate rhetorical expressions and sufficient supporting statistics.
The child directly exhorts the audience in favour of her argument by hurling multiple rhetorical questions at them. Other relevant data is presented to substantiate her statements, importantly packed in compelling diction.
The long term repercussions of flippancy in youngsters are predicted along with advocating suggestions to counter the same. The overall tone of appeal is strong throughout the piece, keeping the readers glued to the writer's entreaties till the end.

Five Tips for Engaging Writing

Are we not all envious of those who can make us smile and wonder at every word of their writing? Adept writers adopt charming twists and turns to hook readers’ attention. It is that perfect combination of meaty content and interesting presentation that wins you the million dollar heed of audiences.

Here we discuss a few handy techniques that can make one want to read more and more of what you write.

1. Humour

What intense knowledge can’t, probably the comic can. People love to be tickled with the witty, wacky, silly, satirical, ironical, amusing, hilarious, exaggerated and the like.

You can jostle the funny bone of your readers by writing something similar to the below examples:

‘Finally, the slaughterer took all his arms and ammunitions out, all ready-get-set-go to do the ACT!’ (Going to the dentist)

‘When the world can ban child labour, why can’t I be spared this menial work? After all, Tom bought me just a year back.’ (Story from the point of view of a school book bag)

2. Novel Figurative Expressions

No one appreciates the mundane and commonplace. Clichéd sentences may peeve your readers, driving them to distraction. ‘As green as emerald’, ‘as fast as light’, ‘the sun smiled’, ‘the wind howled’ etc. now seem time-worn and trite.

 One may try a hand at innovative, outlandish figurative techniques – no matter the subject is animate or inanimate.

 ‘For all my power, I aimed being an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient pair of eyes, like God’s, you know.’ (Story with the given title – A pair of binoculars)

‘Mr. Incredible for all his flaws and foibles was a man of marvels and miracles.’ (Story from the point of view of another character – Mr. Incredible or Elastigirl)

3. References to current affairs or relevant social events

A well-researched, factual write-up is grounded in its immediate social reality. Every writer belongs to a certain cultural, economic, political and social milieu which reflects through his writing.

 Contemporary affairs make writing authentic and credible.

 ‘Education has always been all-important for children in our country. The Duchess of Cornwall’s recent article in the Sunday Express implores parents ahead of the World Book Day to ‘read to….children every day of the year.’  (A letter to your cousin about a child's life in England.)

 ‘We are aware of the University and College Union strikes making a great uproar out there. I hope the government intervenes to settle the agitation which is affecting student life in major ways.’ (Letter to elder sibling studying at a university, who can only visit home in school holidays.)

4. Punchy sentences

Never bombard the readers with hackneyed information. Even if you’ve thoroughly researched a topic, present the facts in a comprehensible manner. So is it with words. Fascinating vocabulary is desirable in writing; yet, remember never to overwhelm your sentences with unnecessary words. Sentences should be short, crisp and never draggy.

However, this is just the basic rule. The next step to cracking catchy sentences is to add the much wanted powerful punch. It could be your striking diction, sentence construction, literary technique, or a unique idea around which the whole sentence is framed.

‘This story is going to refute the time-honoured, established knowledge that camels got their humps due to laziness. The narration unfolds a giant camel, full of sloth, achieving the massive victory of being the most active creature on Earth.’ (Story that has in it: a giant, a sloth and a victory)

5. Expressive, candid narrator

To get the ball rolling in a write-up, you need a communicative, involved narrator. It could be a first or third person speaker, an animal, a bird or an object. The narrator must be so dynamic and animated that he enthuses your writing with a new found excitement for the readers.

 His creative energies must flow unstoppably:

‘This Sleeping Beauty was no damsel in distress; she took charge and broke the enchantment all by herself.’ (Story with a given title – The Sleeping Beauty)

“Phew! How the library staff cruelly thrusts me on jam-packed shelves,” thought the book which had just been forcibly shoved on the shelf. (Describe a library)

Incorporate these five tactics in your writing and leave a lasting impression on your audience. You can explore more such possibilities for creative play.


Five Tricks to Frame Rhetorical Questions in Persuasive Writing

What is that mysterious quality that makes certain lines truly memorable? Why do we remember and cherish those opening words of Marc Antony’s speech so well?“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” (William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar). Antony’s character is legendary for his great oratorical skills. He is able to mesmerize the audience with words that make an immediate impact.

Let’s try to grapple today with the fine art of the rhetoric. It is essential in persuasive writing with students being continually asked to frame rhetorical questions.

Here lies the answer to their immense significance: rhetorical questions are forceful assertions in favour of your argument. They reinstate your cause loud and clear. You may quote statistics, reproduce a famous maxim, rely on universal truism or use some other technique to make your audience consent to your argument.

Rhetoric is a proclamation. Different from traditional sentences, it carries the add-on advantage of sounding more confident. It is the writer’s declaration that something is really the case. The audience is jolted off their comfort zone and urged to heed to what is being delivered.

Therefore, it is important to design your rhetorical questions with utmost creativity. Essentially, oratorical in nature, rhetorical questions must sound well prepared, yet natural. These should be crafted skillfully, sound inspirational, yet connect you with your audience in a tie of intimacy.

Let’s try a hand at some of the techniques of the rhetoric one by one.

1. Statistics: Appalling figures may convey what words cannot. Numbers are always remindful of an abject state of affairs. They ring a bell in the mind of the listeners/readers, as well as substantiate your write-up with well researched data. Here are some examples to assist you in quoting statistics as rhetorical questions.

Do you know that one million children around the world have been diagnosed as malnutritioned by WHO?

Does it surprise you that 25% of the cases registered for eye weakness in children owe to overuse of gadgets?

2Maxim: Established sayings win sure shot credibility. A maxim is a simple-to-repeat line, quote, rule or advice aiming an individual’s betterment. It is highly motivational and thought provoking in character. For the purpose of your writing, you need to pick a relevant maxim and tweak it to your end.

Isn’t ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’ a well acknowledged truth?

Why aren’t children encouraged to participate without giving a thought to victory first?

3. Universal truism: Let’s now return to the folds of collective knowledge. Generally accepted truths give your answer an edge. Bank on truism and turn it craftily into rhetorical questions.

 Isn’t a decent lifestyle the birth right of every being born on the face of Earth?

4. Quotes: You can always chant the wise words of renowned men, adding a twist of rhetoric to them.

‘Do more than belong: Participate; Do more than believe: Practice; Do more than dream: Work.’ Why do parents forget this age old wisdom to instill in kids an acquisitive attitude?

5. Arresting questions: The last of our tactics seeks to directly relate to your audience. In a one-on-one encounter, you can probe them with regards to the matter at hand.

 Did you plant a tree this year? Are you caring enough for Mother Nature?

 What does it really take to be grateful for a favour, apologize for a mistake and request for an act of kindness? Probably, just ethics!

Hope you utilize the above strategies to formulate rhetorical questions in your persuasive write-ups. Depending on which suits a case the most, choose a trick which garners maximum notice from your audience.

Five Often Forgotten Essentials of Persuasive Writing

Changing someone’s mind is easier said than done. You need to take out every tool in your persuasive kit to ensnare the reader in the net of your rhetoric. We are already familiar with the requisite ingredients of persuasive writing: rhetorical questions, facts, statistics, anecdotes, inclusive language, emotive language etc. But how many of these do we actually use? Time and again, we come across students picking some at the heavy expense of others. On the other hand, students who ace their creative writing exams give equal emphasis to all the persuasive tools. They know that variety flavours the art of persuasion. Where one technique might fail to impress the audience, the others will surely have them nodding along.

Today’s post is a discussion of such five persuasive techniques that often find themselves on the margins of student writing. Without further ado, let’s begin with the first one on our list.

1. Topic Statement

No, it is not the title of your essay. And no, it is not the summary of your essay. A topic statement is like (key word) a sub-heading for a paragraph, but unlike a heading or sub-heading, it is written in complete Standard English sentences. What is its purpose? To give the reader an idea of what to expect in the paragraph. Typically the first sentence in a paragraph, the topic statement is then elaborated and explained in the subsequent lines.

We know the golden rule for writing: one paragraph for one idea. Often in the mad rush of meeting deadlines, we forget this commandment. The result is a potpourri of ideas: scattered and scrambled. A topic statement gives shape and unity to the paragraph. As a constant reminder, it prevents the writer from going off the track.

Here are some examples:

There are several ways in which plastic bags contribute to the degradation of our      environment. (Topic statement)

First and foremost, plastics release harmful chemicals into the soil and water. (Elaboration)

Taking calculated risks is the secret of a successful venture. (Topic statement)

But a natural fear of the unknown makes people averse to taking risks. (Elaboration)

2. Hyperbole

Exaggeration for effect in persuasive writing shows the urgency of an issue: it refuses to be ignored anymore. Hyperbole infuses humour or a breather in what can otherwise turn out to be a sombre-like-a-funeral writing. It is almost always a highlight of A+ writing and has the audience saying, ‘I know what you mean!’

Check out the following examples:

Bullies can sniff out a vulnerable person from a mile away.

Politicians live on another planet; they are clueless about what ails the people.

Ban homework: Let no child be stooped by stacks of books.

When the shape of your body begins to imitate that of a hamburger, it signals the right time to make a move.

3. Counter-argument

How annoying is it to listen to Mr/Ms "I know it all"? A persuasive essay which does not take its opposition into consideration is a lost case. After all you are writing not to flaunt your skills, but to bring the other side to yours. It is reasonable then to anticipate the queries of a sceptical reader. Counter-arguments make your writing powerful and trustworthy. They show that you have done a thorough groundwork and know what you are talking about.

For an effective rebuttal, first acknowledge the counter argument briefly and fairly. Then offer evidence and reasons to the contrary. Remember to change tracks again using a contracting conjunction or phrase (such as but, however, on the other hand etc.)

Below are some phrases to introduce counter-arguments:

 Indeed it can be argued ... But ....

It can be easily proven ... However ...

Of course it cannot be denied ...On the other hand...

But what about ... Surely ...

You may wonder ... It is understandable ...

Our detractors are quick to point out ... Let’s pause and think ...

4. Repetition

Say it not once, not twice, but thrice if needed. Not all repetition is unnecessary. Drilling and droning are good medicines for wandering minds. However, this must be accomplished in subtle and sophisticated ways. Repetition makes your readers convinced about your sincerity as a writer as well as makes them pause for a moment to ponder upon the topic at hand. The significance of the matter under discussion goes several notches high. You can foreground your cause right away and keep accenting it with a resounding echo.

There can be a number of nifty approaches for repetition. Take a look at these examples for better comprehension:

Triples: A call to action may be repeated thrice in different terms.

Act, contribute, save lives. (Topic: A charity event)

Topic: Good Manners are More Important than Good Grades

Grades, grades, grades! Parents seem to want only that and neglect everything else to achieve those golden figures.

Topic: The Fast Food Industry is Responsible for Obesity

Foods made faster. Foods which make you fatter. Foods that satisfy. But, foods which load you with pounds.

5. Emotive Appeal

An appeal to the sentiments always works wonders. The audience understands the earnestness of a drive and in most cases comes to concede with your arguments. It keeps their motivation high to listen about your cause with a patient ear.

Now, your emotional plea can be made using a number of tactics: clichés, statistics, quotes, personal observations, reasoning and many more.

The examples below will help shed more clarity:

Topic: Importance of donation

Charity is a noble calling. (Truism)

“Charity does not like arithmetic; selfishness worships it.” -- Mason Cooley (Quote)

Topic: Should graffiti be legalized?

Art knoweth no bounds. (Personal observation)

Topic: Homework ruining childhood

Do not nip childhood in the bud. Let it blossom, flourish and show its true colours. (Appeal)

Hope this post helps. Surprise your reader or examiner next time with these five, often overlooked, persuasive techniques.