How to Write Persuasively

Published Monday, June 28, 2010 8:28 AM

Writing clear, compelling communications that seduce readers with style and conviction is a must in the modern workplace. Need persuasion? Consider how many work products are written: e-mails, cover letters, sales pitches, internal memos, presentations and blog posts. Even the 140-character Tweet needs to pack a pint-sized punch.

Writing is a crucial part of daily work. Writing should convince readers of your viewpoint and clearly communicate information or intentions. If it doesn't, it's a wasted opportunity.  

Techniques, Not Talent

Writing best-sellers or award-winning work requires enormous talent. Clear, compelling persuasive writing does not; rather it calls for techniques anyone can master. Persuasive writing is characterized by certain qualities, including:

  • Strong Ideas (Simply state main ideas. To be persuasive, opinions must be understandable.)
  • Logical Organization (Chose to present ideas directly or indirectly; don't meander between the two.)
  • Appropriate Voice (Is a formal or casual tone appropriate? Most businesses writing has a conversational, yet professional tone.)
  • Precise Words (Leave out qualifiers, excessive adjectives/adverbs, long lead-ins, clichés)
  • Sentence Variety (Vary sentence rhythm. Use a mix of short, punchy sentences to offset longer ones.)
  • Correct Copy (There's no place for typos and grammatical errors.)
  • Polished Presentation (How does the copy look? Make use of bullets and formatting, creating white space that is easy on the eyes.)

Style Speaks Volumes

Compelling prose uses a range of stylistic conventions. Repetition of words and themes is one device; vivid metaphors and similes is another. Keep writing energetic; avoid the passive voice. And remember that while brevity may be "the soul of wit," it is also the hallmark of good writing. Keep it short and sweet.

For more tips, learn from the pros at the Top 10 Blogs for Writers  and consider investing in two classic references: On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction  and Strunk's Elements of Style.  

Above all, practice your writing. Honing a skill takes time. We hope you're persuaded it's worth a try.


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