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It can be difficult to distinguish between writing to argue and writing to persuade. The ideas you offer can be almost the same -
you basically want readers to agree with you. What makes the difference is how you go about convincing them.
When writing to persuade you can be single-minded and opinionated.
This difference means that when you write to persuade, you can afford to be:
• more one-sided - making your ideas seem like the only sensible
choice.
• more personal
• more reliant on passion and emotion.
• more reliant on rhetorical language and devices.
I’m not pig-
headed; I’m
single-minded
and determined!
There are many different persuasive techniques that you could use in your writing:
Colloquial /
Chatty style
Rhetorical
questions
Use contrasting
ideas/images
Criticise
opponent
Use personal
pronouns
Shock tactics
Hyperbole Emotive
language
Play on the
reader’s guilt
Short
Sentences
Humour Quote an
expert
Use statistics Clusters of
three
Forceful
phrases
Imagery Repetition Play on
sympathy
Figures of
speech
Memorable
words/phrases
Anecdote
However, we are going to focus on just eight of the most effective techniques:
ower of three
motive language
hetorical questions
ay again
ndermine opposing views
necdote
irect address
xaggeration
Born on 15 January 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, King was an American clergyman, Nobel Peace Prize
winner and one of the principal leaders of the American civil rights movements. On 28 August 1963,
Martin Luther King delivered his magnificent, and very famous, "I have a dream speech" on the steps of
the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
Listen carefully to Martin Luther King’s speech and answer the questions below.
What is the speech about? Are there any key words or phrases in the speech that provide clues as to the
subject matter?
How does the author/speaker feel about the subject? What can we infer from the speaker’s
tone voice? Consider specific words (for example ‘liberty’ and ‘negro’) what are the connotations?
This speech makes me feel… Your initial ‘gut’ reaction.
Consider the extracts from Martin Luther King’s speech below. Identify the
PERSUADE techniques used, highlight/underline the corresponding sections
and annotate.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic
shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation
Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great
beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had
been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as
a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One
hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly
crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of
discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on
a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of
material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is
still languished in the corners of American society and finds
himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here
today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a
check. When the architects of our republic wrote the
magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of
Independence, they were signing a promissory note to
which every American was to fall heir. This note was a
promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men,
would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life,
Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today
that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar
as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring
this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a
bad check, a check which has come back marked
"insufficient funds."
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is
bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient
funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And
so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us
upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of
justice.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of
great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh
from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from
areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you
battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the
winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of
creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that
unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go
back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to
Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and
ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this
situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you
today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and
tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted
in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live
out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to
be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the
sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners
will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a
state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with
the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of
freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live
in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of
their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its
vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping
with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one
day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls
will be able to join hands with little white boys and white
girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
Why are these techniques effective? How do they make you feel?
When writing to persuade, you need to be very aware of your audience; you want to be
forging a link with them by establishing a common goal, not irritating them by completely
ignoring their needs.
When you set out to persuade someone, you want them to accept your
opinion on an issue: you want to change that person's mind to your way
of thinking.
There are three areas we should attempt to appeal to when trying to get our audience on side:
Most people believe themselves to be reasonable, so appealing to a person's sense of reason is the most
effective means of convincing them to change their way of thinking ('If we don't do this... then... ).
We all share certain common ideas of what is just and fair! Appealing your audience’s sense of what is right
and fair can be a powerful persuasive device, e.g. 'Like you, I share a sense of horror and repulsion at what is
happening...'.
Persuasion often succeeds by the careful and considered use of emotion - especially showing how
passionate you feel for your point of view.
Recognise that your audience feel they hold
a reasonable view already, but try to
dissuade that view by showing how much
more reasonable your own position is.
Provide evidence to support your ideas to
suggest that they are reasonable and
logical.
An effective way of appealing to your
audience’s sense of reason, while still
presenting your view as the only correct
view, is to use rather
than objective ones.
(However, do not overuse this as it can make you
seem untrustworthy / insincere.)
You need to try to convince your audience that
you and they are very similar, sharing parallel
ideas and views
One way to do this is to create a sense of a
shared personal or cultural experience.
You can make your audience feel as though
they have shared experiences with you by
including .
These illustrative ‘real’ stories add a human
and personal dimension that can be
irresistible and fascinating.
Use an appropriate tone
to suit your audience and
purpose.
people often put their
own interests first. What
can you offer your
readers to help them
change their mind?
no one will listen
to an arrogant,
impolite big-head.
Persuasion works best when you know your
audience well so consider your reader, think about
what their current views are and what has brought
them to think that way - think about addressing
them as a 'friend using the pronoun 'You'.
show that you share
your reader's
concerns - even if
your view is
different.
The most important persuasive technique is to
sound authentic and passionate (as if you
really mean what you say!) and this requires a
confident tone: sound like you are sincere
and believable.
Some words have connotations that evoke an
emotional response.
Because we often have an emotional
association to words, our choice of vocabulary
can be a powerful tool for persuasion. We can
use words to make our audience feel guilty
about a situation, angry and even hopeful.
Consider the
difference between
the words buildingbuilding,
househouse and homehome.
The words all come from the same semantic field, with
similar denotations; however, the connotations of words
are very different.
Old man hit by robbers
A hundred peasants killed by troops
Train seats cut by teenagers
House prices fall throughout the
country
Shortage of money creates problems in
schools
Trouble on roads after snow fall
Player hits referee
Hele’s HeraldHele’s Herald
The first for all your local news.
2
5
p
2525
pp
pp
‘‘ImprovImprov
e’e’atat
leastleast44
oftheseofthese
headlineheadline
sbysby
makingmaking
themthem
moremore
emotive.emotive.
You have to persuade the overworked customer services assistant at your local department
store to refund/exchange your unwanted Christmas present.
• How will you start your conversation in order to get her
‘on side’?
• What tone will you use?
• What persuasive techniques would it be most
appropriate to employ?
Make your notes in the space provided below.
The distinction between writing to persuade and writing to argue is incredibly subtle.
In both cases you need to present a supported written argument. What is the difference when
writing to persuade?
I’m sure you all agree that supermarkets need to start
taking responsibility for the environment, and stop over
packaging goods.
Recycling and the conservation of our planet’s natural
resources are key concerns to many responsible citizens,
yet the supermarkets ignore this. They need to stop
wrapping goods in multiple layers of unnecessary
polythene, plastic and card board.
How many of you, like me, have done your bit for the
environment diligently, but found yourself in the
situation where you are forced to throw recyclable
products into the non-recyclable bin, because you have
simply run out of space in your recycling bin?
More than 77% of consumers questioned said that they
were irritated by the amount of wasteful packaging they
had to dispose of, while 52% of shoppers try to avoid
buying over-packaged goods.
Why then do supermarkets insist on continuing this
pointless practice?
Since when has an apple pie been such a perishable
product that it requires four layers of packaging to
protect it? Last night, fancying one such sweet pie, I
made the mistake of popping to the shops and buying a
box of pastries by a well-known brand. By the time I had
helped my poor apple pie from its foil, plastic, polythene
and card board prison, I had lost all appetite for the
thing. Furthermore, two of the offending ‘protective’
elements weren’t even recyclable.
You are chairman of the school student council. It has been suggested, by the
student body, that students should be allowed to not wear ties in the summer.
As chairman, it is your job to put this proposal forward to the school
governors and persuade them that this is a justified and beneficial
suggestion.

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Persuasive techniques activity

  • 1. It can be difficult to distinguish between writing to argue and writing to persuade. The ideas you offer can be almost the same - you basically want readers to agree with you. What makes the difference is how you go about convincing them. When writing to persuade you can be single-minded and opinionated. This difference means that when you write to persuade, you can afford to be: • more one-sided - making your ideas seem like the only sensible choice. • more personal • more reliant on passion and emotion. • more reliant on rhetorical language and devices. I’m not pig- headed; I’m single-minded and determined! There are many different persuasive techniques that you could use in your writing: Colloquial / Chatty style Rhetorical questions Use contrasting ideas/images Criticise opponent Use personal pronouns Shock tactics Hyperbole Emotive language Play on the reader’s guilt Short Sentences Humour Quote an expert Use statistics Clusters of three Forceful phrases Imagery Repetition Play on sympathy Figures of speech Memorable words/phrases Anecdote However, we are going to focus on just eight of the most effective techniques: ower of three motive language hetorical questions ay again ndermine opposing views necdote irect address xaggeration
  • 2. Born on 15 January 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, King was an American clergyman, Nobel Peace Prize winner and one of the principal leaders of the American civil rights movements. On 28 August 1963, Martin Luther King delivered his magnificent, and very famous, "I have a dream speech" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Listen carefully to Martin Luther King’s speech and answer the questions below. What is the speech about? Are there any key words or phrases in the speech that provide clues as to the subject matter? How does the author/speaker feel about the subject? What can we infer from the speaker’s tone voice? Consider specific words (for example ‘liberty’ and ‘negro’) what are the connotations? This speech makes me feel… Your initial ‘gut’ reaction.
  • 3. Consider the extracts from Martin Luther King’s speech below. Identify the PERSUADE techniques used, highlight/underline the corresponding sections and annotate. Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
  • 4. I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today! Why are these techniques effective? How do they make you feel?
  • 5. When writing to persuade, you need to be very aware of your audience; you want to be forging a link with them by establishing a common goal, not irritating them by completely ignoring their needs. When you set out to persuade someone, you want them to accept your opinion on an issue: you want to change that person's mind to your way of thinking. There are three areas we should attempt to appeal to when trying to get our audience on side: Most people believe themselves to be reasonable, so appealing to a person's sense of reason is the most effective means of convincing them to change their way of thinking ('If we don't do this... then... ). We all share certain common ideas of what is just and fair! Appealing your audience’s sense of what is right and fair can be a powerful persuasive device, e.g. 'Like you, I share a sense of horror and repulsion at what is happening...'. Persuasion often succeeds by the careful and considered use of emotion - especially showing how passionate you feel for your point of view. Recognise that your audience feel they hold a reasonable view already, but try to dissuade that view by showing how much more reasonable your own position is. Provide evidence to support your ideas to suggest that they are reasonable and logical. An effective way of appealing to your audience’s sense of reason, while still presenting your view as the only correct view, is to use rather than objective ones. (However, do not overuse this as it can make you seem untrustworthy / insincere.)
  • 6. You need to try to convince your audience that you and they are very similar, sharing parallel ideas and views One way to do this is to create a sense of a shared personal or cultural experience. You can make your audience feel as though they have shared experiences with you by including . These illustrative ‘real’ stories add a human and personal dimension that can be irresistible and fascinating. Use an appropriate tone to suit your audience and purpose. people often put their own interests first. What can you offer your readers to help them change their mind? no one will listen to an arrogant, impolite big-head. Persuasion works best when you know your audience well so consider your reader, think about what their current views are and what has brought them to think that way - think about addressing them as a 'friend using the pronoun 'You'. show that you share your reader's concerns - even if your view is different.
  • 7. The most important persuasive technique is to sound authentic and passionate (as if you really mean what you say!) and this requires a confident tone: sound like you are sincere and believable. Some words have connotations that evoke an emotional response. Because we often have an emotional association to words, our choice of vocabulary can be a powerful tool for persuasion. We can use words to make our audience feel guilty about a situation, angry and even hopeful. Consider the difference between the words buildingbuilding, househouse and homehome. The words all come from the same semantic field, with similar denotations; however, the connotations of words are very different. Old man hit by robbers A hundred peasants killed by troops Train seats cut by teenagers House prices fall throughout the country Shortage of money creates problems in schools Trouble on roads after snow fall Player hits referee Hele’s HeraldHele’s Herald The first for all your local news. 2 5 p 2525 pp pp ‘‘ImprovImprov e’e’atat leastleast44 oftheseofthese headlineheadline sbysby makingmaking themthem moremore emotive.emotive.
  • 8. You have to persuade the overworked customer services assistant at your local department store to refund/exchange your unwanted Christmas present. • How will you start your conversation in order to get her ‘on side’? • What tone will you use? • What persuasive techniques would it be most appropriate to employ? Make your notes in the space provided below.
  • 9. The distinction between writing to persuade and writing to argue is incredibly subtle. In both cases you need to present a supported written argument. What is the difference when writing to persuade?
  • 10.
  • 11. I’m sure you all agree that supermarkets need to start taking responsibility for the environment, and stop over packaging goods. Recycling and the conservation of our planet’s natural resources are key concerns to many responsible citizens, yet the supermarkets ignore this. They need to stop wrapping goods in multiple layers of unnecessary polythene, plastic and card board. How many of you, like me, have done your bit for the environment diligently, but found yourself in the situation where you are forced to throw recyclable products into the non-recyclable bin, because you have simply run out of space in your recycling bin? More than 77% of consumers questioned said that they were irritated by the amount of wasteful packaging they had to dispose of, while 52% of shoppers try to avoid buying over-packaged goods. Why then do supermarkets insist on continuing this pointless practice? Since when has an apple pie been such a perishable product that it requires four layers of packaging to protect it? Last night, fancying one such sweet pie, I made the mistake of popping to the shops and buying a box of pastries by a well-known brand. By the time I had helped my poor apple pie from its foil, plastic, polythene and card board prison, I had lost all appetite for the thing. Furthermore, two of the offending ‘protective’ elements weren’t even recyclable.
  • 12. You are chairman of the school student council. It has been suggested, by the student body, that students should be allowed to not wear ties in the summer. As chairman, it is your job to put this proposal forward to the school governors and persuade them that this is a justified and beneficial suggestion.