Module 5: Persuasive Writing (May 31, 2012)
Objectives: By the end of this module, you should be able to:
describe the appeals to emotion (pathos), logic (logos) and ethos,
arrange ideas to form a logical appeal, and
analyze a piece of persuasive writing according to Toulmin’s theory of argument.
Readings Chapter 8
We will all need to ask for a favour, present a new idea, promote a product, or explain
how to solve a problem.
We will need to persuade someone of something.
Persuasion is the act of persuading (or attempting to persuade); communication intended
to induce belief or action (www.dictionary.com).
Five Steps to Help You Write Persuasively
Know your purpose and what you want the reader to do.
o Make your request seem reasonable and beneficial.
o Include information that will overcome resistance and make follow-up easy.
Understand what motivates your reader (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).
o Know your reader’s goals and needs.
Write from the perspective of what your reader needs
o Will your goal save time or money, solve a problem, or help to achieve a work
Consider the design and layout.
o Opinions will be made on the “look” of your document.
o Layout, typography, and white space should be professional and attractive.
Be positive and accurate.
o Use a sincere, confident tone, and “you”-centred language.
o Avoid creating the impression that you are “giving orders.”
Anticipate objections and plan how to deal with them.
o Respect the views of your reader
o Frame your request as “win-win.”
Make sure they see how they will gain from your proposal
o Use a “concession statement.”
o Consider the longer-term benefits or the “bigger picture.”
Persuasive messages appeal to the reader’s:
o Sense of reason
Support your argument with evidence, such as non-numerical facts, expert
opinions, statistics, examples, and analogies.
Show clarity and use logical argument development:
o Problem/solution o Chronological
Answer questions the reader will ask or will be thinking about.
Avoid errors in logic:
o Mistaking coincidence for cause
o Circular arguments
o Begging the question
o False analogies
o Emotions, and
Appeal to the reader’s emotions:
Use emotions to create a desire to act.
Base an emotional appeal on fact or reason.
Select words with emotional power (e.g., “special,” “deserve,”
Create “sense impressions” (by using words like “see,” “feel,”
“hear,” “taste,” “smell”).
o Sense of right (ethics)
Appeal to the reader’s sense of right (ethics).
Establish your credibility before you write (if possible), or in your
Strive to be believable, responsible, ethical.
Personal credibility is based on specialized knowledge, reputation,
position, and familiarity.
Specialized knowledge is the evidence you use to make a logical
Cite experts or sources trusted by your reader.
Reputation is determined by your character and past conduct.
o Business titles add leverage and respect (when not
perceived as pompous or bullying).
o Trust is built by having a relationship or sharing common
Toulmin’s Model of Argumentation
The Claim. The Grounds.
o The claim is the statement that describes the idea you are attempting to persuade
the reader to accept.
An example of a claim is: We should advertise on local radio.
o The grounds are the facts that support your claim. The grounds should be as based
on strong sources of evidence or they run the risk of becoming claims themselves.
According to a Smith and Smith marketing report, our customer
demographic aligns with the largest listener group of the local station,
estimated to be 200,000 individuals
The Warrant . Backing.
o The warrant is the link between claim and grounds. Often it is left implied, but at times is written as part of the argument.
The warrant of our example is:We can reach our customers via local radio.
o Backing provides additional support for the warrant. Backing differs from
grounds in direct relevance; it supports the warrant with additional, but less
crucial facts. For example,
We can redistribute our marketing budget by decreasing our expenditures
in newspaper and flyer marketing to allow us to add local radio to our mix
without increasing our overall marketing expenses.
The Qualifier. The