Writing to persuade is a tough task, but with a bit of planning it can be made easier and more effective.
When you try to persuade someone, often you'll be trying to doone of these three things:
In order to be as persuasive as possible, it's important todecide before you begin writing which of these three you'retrying to accomplish as they each need different strategies.
Clearly this is a topic that can have a great deal written aboutit, but here are a few starting points.
If you're trying to confirm a person's beliefs throughyour writing, don't simply provide them with information; rather,try to validate their beliefs and compliment them on them.
Try to make them feel comfortable, and remove any reason for themto doubt their existing choice. For example, you might say:
I recommend that we continue these environmentally soundprocedures.
Words like "sound", "tried and true", "trusted", "fiscallyresponsible" and "proven" reassure and subtly flatter the readerthat their current choices are good ones.
If you're trying to challenge a person's beliefs,you'll try to persuade them to question them. You'll deliberatelytry to upset the status quo and shake things up a bit. Forexample:
Our belief that the leach pads are not leaking dangerouscontaminants into the groundwater supply may be unfounded. Iurgently recommend a research study to investigate thispotentially damaging situation.
Here the language is deliberately worrying. Words like "leaking","dangerous", "contaminants", "unfounded", "urgently" and"damaging" all combine to persuade the reader that the currentsituation must be investigated.
If you're trying to change a belief (the hardest of thethree tasks), you'll have to be especially persuasive as it'shuman nature for people to resist such changes.
If the reader is to accept your argument for change then it mayrequire him to admit (even if just to himself) that his currentbeliefs or practices are in error, and many people are deeplyreluctant to do this. There are issues of loss of face,humiliation and status involved.
One approach to this problem is to be diplomatic andemphasise how existing practices were sound in the past butnow need to change to meet new circumstances. For example:
Our existing security practices were well suited toconditions in the early to mid-nineties. The changes broughtabout by networking and the rise of the Internet, however,mean that it is now time to change our attitudes. We need torecognise the mission-critical importance of heightened I.T.security.
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