Professional and Technical Writing/Rhetoric/Purpose

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Persuading the Reader[edit]

In order to create persuasive and effective professional documents, it is important to develop a persuasive style. Almost every document you will write will try to persuade or inform the readers. What is important to take into account is that readers have viewpoints on everything they are looking at so sometimes you want to be more or less obvious in your persuasive style. It begins with an initial thought and continues to change throughout the time they are looking at your document. It is important to realize that readers goals, concerns, feelings, and responses are likely to change from situation to situation. You may use your persuasive powers to change your readers' attitudes by reversing an attitude that they have, by reinforcing your attitude and by shaping their attitude on a subject which they currently have no opinion. The following points are centered around being able to successfully communicate with the readers, so your documents can correctly persuade or inform the readers the way they are suppose to.

-It is important to help your readers locate the valuable information first. In professional documents you often can see that the main idea and purpose is stated in the first paragraph and usually in the first few sentences. This is unlike papers that you may have written in regular writing classes throughout your time in school. Use headings, topic sentences, and lists to guide your readers towards specific points and information that you would like them to comprehend. Then later in the document you can go onto explaining why your points make sense. Your first goal should be to give them a reason to read on. If they don't care to listen to you, you won't be able to persuade them of anything.

-Use easy to read styles to make it readable to all levels. Take away unnecessary or more inter specific wording to make sure that your document can be understood. Put in action words to effectively make your point. Use low impact versions to make it easier to read, and so people can read the document faster. This is especially important in business. Managers and executives are extremely busy, all the time. They want to be able to find the information they need right away, so they don't waste time wading through filler.

-Highlight persuasive points you are trying to make. Put main points in the beginning to capture the reader’s attention. Show how their actions will enable them to achieve their own goals. When deciding on what elements are persuasive, look at arguments that are credible and compelling to insure they believe what you are trying to say.

-Communicate with your readers. Before you write a document, understand who is going to be reading your documents and what their current beliefs are. This will allow you to write towards the correct set of people. Then when writing your document, ask readers how they will use the presented information and what they are looking for in the communication.

It is believed that if you cannot communicate with your readers, they will not understand the introduced concepts and strategies that are serving as a springboard into you argument. Without having a jumping point into your supportive information, you will not be effectively communicating your document. You also need to be creating an ethical dimension to you documents that are not going against any of you reader’s viewpoints and personal thoughts. It is said that you are suppose to be talking with your readers and not towards them. This is explaining that you are not directing them towards something they are not willing to pursue. Instead, direct them towards something they are considering and offer those ideas and concepts that can pursue them towards a certain idea.

Advice for Persuading Your Readers[edit]

1. Listen to Your Readers

Make sure that you listen to the audience's goals, needs, aims, and concerns. Things you hear can help structure your persuasive document successfully, or it may help improve the action or idea that is being advocated.

2. Understand Readers' Goals and Values

If you know your reader's goals and values, you can structure your communication in a way that produces favorable thoughts about your action or ideas.

3. Respond to Readers' Concerns and Counterarguments

Address your reader's concerns and counterarguments to show that you understand their points and values.

  1. Ask questions such as: "What do other people who have looked into this matter think?"
  2. Offer a reason for relying on your position rather than the opposing position.

4. Reason Soundly

Use facts, statistics, and expert testimonies as evidence to show actuality of your idea or action.

5. Organize Your Communication

Organizing your communication will provide a favorable response from readers.

  1. A direct organizational pattern goes directly to the main point and then presents evidence.
  2. An indirect organizational pattern presents evidence and related information before stating the main point.

6. Build a Relationship With the Reader

  1. Present yourself as a credible person by showing expertise, associating yourself as a member of a readers group, or using your position of authority.
  2. Present yourself as a friend by praising your readers, showing understanding of your readers, or maintaining a positive and helpful position. Avoid sounding confrontational. If you come across as attacking your readers view, your reader will shut down and become unreceptive. This is the easiest way to lose your readers attention.

7. Appeal to Readers' Emotions

Appealing to reader's emotions is considered inappropriate in scientific research reports, test reports, and many other communications. For some communications, appealing to emotions can be very successful. Emotional appeals are common among government agencies and private health providers advocating healthy lifestyles. Be sure to think carefully about whether emotional appeal is appropriate for a specific situation.

8. Adapt to Readers' Cultural Backgrounds

If you are writing to readers in a culture other than your own, you will need to cater your persuasive strategies to their values, beliefs, and norms. The best way to do this is to do your homework. You won't be able to completely adapt to your reader by listening to them alone. You will have to do some research to get some background when dealing with other cultures.

9. Persuade Ethically

You never want to mislead or manipulate your readers. This does not only deprive your readers of their rights, but if they come to find out about false statements you could be negatively affected.

10. Keep your goal realistic

When most adults make up their minds, that idea is set in their heads and becomes very difficult to change. It is important to keep this in mind. If you know that your reader is set in their ideas, trying to completely change their mind is going to be extremely difficult. Instead, try to get your reader to consider your view. If you can accomplish this, then you never know what might happen. If the reader has time to think on the idea, they might start to agree with you in time.