The Art and Science of Persuasion
Much workplace or professional writing has a persuasive purpose–at the very least, you want to convince your readers that what you say is accurate, credible and worthy of their attention. Sometimes the persuasive aspect goes further–we request a raise, try to change corporate policy, or petition for social justice. Our success relies on numerous factors, not the least of which is understanding our readers and the constraints they face in making a decision. Being able to write a convincing, persuasive document is an important part of developing as a writer–and thinker.
For this first project, you will think about a change you would like to see, something that really matters to you. For example, you might want your local gym to start recycling plastic bottles, or to convince your employer to underwrite child care. Whatever you choose, it should be (1) a real problem; and (2) something for which action can be taken by a particular person or organization. This latter requirement is important, because you will be writing a persuasive letter to that person or organization as your audience.
“Persuasion” by Tom Simpson is licensed under CC by 2.0.
Not the kind of persuasion professional writers use!
To be successful in this project, your letter should address these questions:
Is it really a problem and for whom?
Why should the person/organization care enough to solve it?
What is a possible solution? Why do you believe it will work?
Are there alternative solutions?
What results should be expected (good and bad)?
What objections might your reader raise to your idea and how can you address them?
What benefit will result to the person/organization if they solve it?

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