A strong opening is important to a persuasive appeal because it focuses the audience’s attention, but then what do you do to influence them the rest of the way?
The challenge in a persuasive message is to make it compelling enough that it will be memorable and will shape the reader or listener’s opinion or behavior. Here are a few tactics to make your persuasive message more effective:
– Appeal to something the audience values. If you want someone to lead a recycling campaign in the office and you know a person who is a strong advocate for a clean environment, you might tailor your message accordingly. Or if employees value time off more than higher pay, then your message should emphasize that as part of the incentive.
– Urge the audience to imagine a favorable outcome. Invoke a desirable outcome, and then encourage the audience to imagine that result. When psychologist Robert Cialdini sold cable TV subscriptions door to door as part of an experiment, he encouraged people to imagine all the great shows they would be able to see. He signed up considerably more subscribers than a control group that simply asked people to subscribe to cable TV.
– Include substantive information to support your argument. Be specific with facts, numbers, names, and other details, and pay attention to the quality of the information. Also, do not provide too much. Contrary to what many people think, cramming more details or more arguments into the message will not make it more persuasive but will do the opposite. It will overwhelm the reader (or listener), and also will give the impression you are a muddled thinker.