What’s in it for your reader? Getting your audience to resist less.

When I reported on business news, I (very politely) refused pitches from eager publicists and mostly because their message felt off-base. Also, the writing didn’t clearly state what they wanted me to write on (or why) because of vague and promotional messaging.

And yet, small tweaks can fix most persuasive messages and yield an exciting ‘yes’ vs. no response (or a withering one). Whether you seek survey takers, funding, or back-up support, this blog provides tips for getting your reader on board.

Analyze why your reader ought to comply

Before writing a thing, ask these quick (but pivotal) questions: What do I want my audience to do? Why ought they do it? And, why ought they do it now?  Let’s apply this journalistic formula to a popular ask for flex-time work schedules:

  • What do I want my audience to do? We seek approval for a flex-time schedule starting this June. Specifically, we want our team to work when they want, from wherever, with the understanding they must come to work as needed and get given deadlines/tasks done within each day.
  • Why ought my audience say yes? Morale’s hit all-time lows. Half the team seeks alternative jobs. Also, most the work we do doesn’t require face-to-face time with anyone. Our team also saves time (and money) from commuting in.
  • Why ought we say ‘yes’ now? Why wait? It costs nothing to implement this vital change. Also, we can’t ignore disturbing national data showing 74% of employed Americans currently alternative employers. Distinguish ourselves. Offer more attractive, modern, (and productive) ways to work.

Provided you add specific responses to these three core questions, you’ve gathered excellent fodder for your opening paragraph. You’ve also created three solid themes to tease out in the body of your message.

Preempt why they (your audience) might say ‘no’

One step we often overlook when persuading: thinking why our audience might deny us. If we take the flex-time schedule request and preempt why our leaders will likely refuse, a few reasons surface:

  • Flex-time means we can’t monitor if anyone’s really working.
  • Flex-time workers mightn’t show up when needed.
  • We’ve no way to gauge if the approach helps.

To yield that ‘yes,’ counter reader concerns within the body of the message. Explain what measures exist to work with HR to ensure workers indeed come on site as needed. Provide parameters on gauging the success of the new work approach. Offer, for instance, a three-month trial and explain what success looks like.

Provided you stay specific and effectively preempt that push back, you have a better chance of a ‘yes.’

Offer specific logical and emotional appeal

Adding data, history, comparisons, etc. provides excellent logical appeal. Yet, many communicators overlook the emotional appeal. Read more on emotional appeal in this blog on oral persuasion.

Some examples can illustrate the power of cherry picking which emotions to appeal to. In the flex-time schedule example, appealing to the reader’s fear of turnover and pride/joy of boosting morale might work.  If you seek survey takers, then, alleviate worries by explaining the reasons for the survey, the time required for survey takers, and tactics to preserve anonymity. (Logical appeal.) Then, tell the reader(s) why the survey feels vital to you. What change do you seek—and why? Show examples of how you’ll use the survey input to offer hope for change. (Emotional appeal.)

We’ve offered three new approaches to weave into your next persuasive written message including: adding more emotional appeal, explaining specifically what you want your reader to do, and, preempting why they might say ‘no.’ Already, you’ll stand out with this approach and hopefully, find your reader(s) resist less.

More blogs on business writing live here. 


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