by: Courtland Bovee
All good writing involves persuasion-getting the reader over to your side. You may be writing to persuade a colleague to take on a new project, writing a blog post trying to persuade people to accept a new idea, or writing persuasive advertising copy for a new product. In each situation, your goal is to persuade your readers that you have something to say and that it is in their best interest to take the action you have requested.
Here are five elements to keep in mind when writing persuasive messages.
1. “You” attitude. Too much business writing has an “I” or “we” viewpoint, which causes the writer to sound selfish and not interested in the reader. If you want to get your point of view across, convey information, or persuade the reader, you have to talk in terms of the reader’s interests, hopes, wishes, and preferences. Good writing psychology requires that you present your message in light of the reader’s viewpoint rather than your own.
“I” or “We”
To help us process this order, we must ask for another copy of the requisition.
We trust you will extend your service contract.
So that your order can be filled promptly, please send another copy of the requisition.
By extending your service contract, you can continue to enjoy topnotch performance from your equipment.
2. Warmth. You can make all sorts of mistakes in your messages yet still leave your readers with a good feeling if you can convey the magic intangible of personal warmth. Warmth is more difficult in writing than it is in oral communications. Essentially, warmth is an aspect-possibly even the measure-of the “you” viewpoint. You should not only demonstrate concern for the audience’s problems but interest in their attitudes and an appreciation of the ways in which handling the situation is going to be helpful to them.
3. Parallel experience. One way of touching the right spots with your reader is to draw on a parallel situation in your own experience. Build your writing around this experience, or use what you learned as a basis for your writing. By creating a sympathetic bond between you and your reader, you enhance the person-to-person connection and help your reader to become more open to what you are saying.
4. Good manners. If you want to persuade your reader, you must show impeccable manners. In other words, be nice. If you are rude or overly aggressive, your reader will shut down to your argument and turn elsewhere. When in doubt, put yourself on the other end of the writing and ask, “How would I feel if this was directed at me? Would I be offended, or would I be open to listening to more?”
5. Tone. The tone of your writing goes beyond the content of your words and offers the reader an overall feeling or indication of your meaning. The overall tone of your message will depend on the subject, but a general guideline is to stay positive. Suggest to your reader that you are interested in his or her problems and in solving them. A good tone is ruined by using harsh words or phrases. Some examples:
the alleged loss
you claim that
you neglected to send
in which you assert
if we were at fault
we request that you send us
the loss you refer to
we understand that
you did not send
you tell us
please accept our apologies
please send us
Persuasion is an art, not a science-but that does not mean there is no winning formula. By incorporating these five elements into your business communication, you will have a greater chance of getting your reader to stop, listen, and take the action you want.