Writing a persuasive essay takes preparation and planning in order to be truly compelling and effective. Similar to when you prepare for a debate or argument you should form your thoughts into a logical form so that your main thesis is supported by argument after argument.
Organizationally each essay follows a similar pattern. You begin with your primary thesis and the fundamental reason that you believe that this position is correct. After that you add argument after argument to solidify your position with the most compelling argument being first. After drafting your arguments, you would generally re-state your position and summarize the vital points of your argument.
With that general structure in mind, as few points that you should remember when creating a persuasive essay are as follows:
- Speak to your audience. As you write, keep your target reader in mind. Know their reading level and use words that are easily understood by those who will be swayed by your arguments.
- Use illustration and stories to make your points compelling. This is where most essay writers fall down. The rely on dry facts without adding examples that will help convey the desired message. As you proceed through your paper be sure to include real world and hypothetical examples that help to make your arguments. People have always communicated through stories and it is still one of the best ways to get your point across. Instead of cold and uninteresting data, a printed story paints a thousand words.
- Whenever possible, use numbers. Have you ever wondered why people write down numbers when they are selling a car or negotiating a raise? Humans have been conditioned to accept printed numbers as factual, regardless of their source. As such, once a salesman puts a number into print it is actually much harder for the buyer to negotiate the price.Use this fact when drafting your essay. Instead of using generalities in your arguments, quote exact figures whenever possible and reference the source of those data to back up your statements. Arguments are much more persuasive when there are quantitative numbers backing them up.
- Avoid making absolute statements. For every argument there are two sides to the story and the critical thinker will always consider both. Keep this in mind when you are writing your essay. Saying something is absolutely a fact, regardless of the proof demonstrates a narrow-mindedness that may hinder the power of your arguments. Throughout history, people have clinged to facts they absolutely knew to be true, but were eventually proven wrong. Just to provide a simple example, Galileo was killed because made the un-founded claim that the earth revolved around the sun. His persecutors knew for a fact that the earth was the center of the universe.
- Spend time creating a compelling close to your paragraph. With the closing paragraph be sure to restate your position and summarize the reasons for your belief. While absolute statements are to be avoided, taking a strong stance in favor of your arguments is critical. In this last paragraph use language that communicates that your position is the only rational solution.
As above people believe what they see in print and the stronger your statements, the more likely they are to side with your argument. In general there is very little critical thinking that goes on while someone reads a paper. As such, most readers are more than willing to accept your opinion as fact, especially if you communicate from a position of authority or rely on hard facts to back up your story. Also, in some cases you can use this structure for different types of papers, like for descriptive paper, because sometimes it works.
By using these simple tips you can write a very persuasive essay. In addition, once you have developed some practice in taking this type of logical approach to communication, you will be able to expand your persuasion skills beyond that of the printed page. Indeed, this format not only lends itself to writing effectively, but also to any other form of communication. Whether you are writing persuasive speeches, or developing PowerPoints to sell a product, the format and fundamentals remain the same. These are simply to state your argument, support it, use numbers when presenting facts and use stories and alliteration to get your point across. By relying on this simple format and implementing these techniques you will quickly develop a set of skills that will help you throughout your education and your professional life.