Posts Tagged ‘Assumptions

Have you ever had to ask someone to do something and then motivate them to act?

Maybe you’re trying to get people to donate to your cause, or prompt a customer to pay a bill, or inspire your employees to adopt a procedure, or get a company to give you a job interview, or ask strangers to vote for you. All sorts of situations require us to write persuasively in order to get what we want.

Swaying someone’s mind can be hard work, as we all know. So here are some tips for a better shot at achieving your goals:

What Is Your Purpose?

Before you begin the first draft, decide: What is the purpose of the piece I am writing? What is it exactly that I want my readers to do?

Be very specific in your answer, because your stated purpose becomes the focus for every detail, statistic, set of results, observation, fact, argument and data point you will include. Everything must support your purpose.

Who Is Your Audience?

To persuade people, you must know who they are, so that you can find a point of agreement where they can say “oh yeah, that’s true,” or “that’s right,” and get on board with you.

This means you need to identify who your audience is. Are they individuals you know? Consumers? Retailers? Strangers? Companies in a particular industry? People who have a certain type of job? Members who belong to a specific organization? People in a certain age group?

Research your audience as much as possible. Get all the demographic data you can. And then be prepared to make some general assumptions as well.

What Does Your Audience Care About?

Once you know who your audience is, you should be able to define the kinds of arguments they will respond to. This will help you determine whether to lean toward the logical or the emotional.

You also need to define the kinds of issues they care about. What moves your audience? Where do their interests lie? What are their touchpoints, those areas where they feel they have some skin in the game?

When in doubt, paint the issues with a broad brushstroke, so you include as many people as possible.

What Tone Works?

The tone you use in writing reveals your attitudes toward your subject and your audience. The right tone is absolutely critical. Control tone, or risk losing your audience.

In general, a positive tone is more persuasive than a negative, sarcastic, humorous or angry one. So write positively, and express confidence and hope, warmth and cheer. If you can do that, and make your readers feel empowered and good about themselves, you will write persuasively.

What other techniques can you think of to make your writing more persuasive?  Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower  The Write Ideas


Somewhere along the way in nearly every person’s life, there comes a time when it is necessary to write a letter of complaint to someone. A time when you feel you have exhausted all other reasonable avenues, yet still cannot get the offending party — merchant? neighbor? government agency? family member? colleague? — to cooperate and work toward a satisfactory resolution.

Now, assuming you truly wish to find a workable solution to your dilemma, let me share with you the most important secret you need to know and absolutely must use in writing your letter: Avoid emotionalism.

Emotional words are loaded words. They can be loaded with accusations, expressions of anger or hatred, insinuation, libel, spite, self-righteousness, sarcasm, condescension, sneering, blaming, and name-calling. They can be loaded with assumptions and indignation. They can be loaded with fact-free imaginings and derogatory statements.

Think such an emotional approach will help you win your argument? Surmount the problem? Resolve the issue? Enlighten the other person and help them see the error of their ways? Make them realize you are not someone to trifle with? No. Rudeness will only decrease the other party’s sympathy for you and reduce your chances of success. The road to disaster is often paved with emotionalism.

So before you pen the REAL letter, sit down and write the I-Accuse-You-Horrible-Person-Rant-Cant-Whack-‘Em-Smack-‘Em-You’ll-Never-Forget-This-Letter missive. Take out your verbal flame-thrower and scorch the earth. Discharge all your roiling emotions, so that your mind will be free to deal with the facts of the case in a cool, calm and equable manner.

Now, place another sheet of paper before you, and write the real letter, the one in which you methodically and logically state your case in a polite and businesslike way:

  • Explain the problem clearly.
  • Get to the point.
  • Be as brief as possible (save the over-wrought narrative, and do not go into excessive detail).
  • Use objective, neutral words to present the facts as you see them.
  • Stick to the issues.
  • Be honest in your descriptions.
  • Be clear in your objective. What action do you want your reader to take?

Keep the letter overnight, and review it the next day. Delete any shred of emotionalism. Remember, you want to win, and loaded words will not help you achieve your goal.  Elizabeth Lexleigh  The Write Ideas   lexpower

As you prepare for your information-gathering interviews with product and subject-matter experts, beware of making assumptions.

Do not assume that you and the experts understand and define in the same way the product, its operation, procedures, terms or applications. Ask for explicit definitions and explanations. Remember: As a writer, asking questions is part of your job!

If you do not understand the answer to a question, ask again. Try rephrasing the question. Ask for an analogy — what is it like or similar to. If the information is not clear to  you, then you will not be able to make it clear to your audience.

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