Tips on persuasive writing can help prepare you to teach this unique type of writing. Persuasive writing is exciting for students because they can talk about things they are passionate about. There are so many activities that teachers can use to make persuasive writing fun. We get to pull real-world examples into our classrooms from advertising, writing, and conversations with friends.
No Tips on Persuasive Writing
When I first started teaching I didn’t have a quick list of proven tips on persuasive writing that could help me get started. I had one or two lessons I had watched other teachers teach and an over-complicated curriculum that was frustrating rather than helpful. I had my students write persuasive papers, but they weren’t that great because I didn’t have a solid foundation on which to base my teaching.
What are Your Tips on Persuasive Writing?
Did you start teaching persuasive writing with a decent list of tips or lessons that could make it easier? I’d love to hear about your favorites in the comments. If this is your first year teaching or your tenth year teaching these are some of the basic takeaways that you want your students to learn about persuasive writing. You can base most of your lessons on these ideas and your student writers will be pretty successful.
The Best Tips on Persuasive Writing
I have two great tips on persuasive writing that lay a great foundation for the rest of the tips. They are actually really more about understanding the concept of persuasive writing than tips about it, but this knowledge can change teaching persuasive writing.
First, there is a difference between opinion, persuasive, and argumentative writing. Opinion writing is when the writer simply wants to share what they think with anyone who is willing to listen.
Persuasive writing is when the writer is trying to convince the reader that their idea is right and everything they write is to prove that. Persuasive writing is very emotional.
Argumentative writing is when the writer chooses a side and argues for it, but the writer presents both sides and gives the reader some breathing room to decide their opinion on the topic. Argumentative writing is very logical.
It’s also important to note that the Common Core requirements want us to teach opinion writing in 4th and 5th grade and argumentative writing starting in 6th grade. Most teachers talk about all of these types of writing as persuasive (and so do I for the most part). If you want to know more about the types of persuasive writing you can read about it in my article Discover this Powerful 3-Part Detailed and Simple Guide to Persuasive Writing Essays.
Second, it’s important that you know the three modes of persuasion ethos (ethics), pathos (emotion), and logos (logic). These greek terms identified by Aristotle are the foundation of persuasive writing. Every strategy for persuasive writing is going to stem from these. If you want a full explanation then you can look at my article 3 Ancient Techniques of Persuasive Writing That Empower Writers.
More Tips on Persuasive Writing
How Can Tips on Persuasive Writing Help You Teach It?
These tips are concepts proven to work in persuasive writing. They are taken from the teaching world and beyond to give you some of the best tips to support your students while they learn persuasive writing. These powerful tips on persuasive writing are powerful because they are the aspects of persuasive writing that turn a paper from blah to engaging and interesting.
I have organized these tips into four subheadings to give some organization to them. Several of them could fall under more than one heading, but this made the most sense to me.
Prep Work Tips on Persuasive Writing
These prep work tips on persuasive writing are meant to set the rest of your students’ work up for success. If they make clear decisions here the rest of their papers will be easier.
- Pick a Topic You are Passionate About
Your students must choose a topic that they feel passionate about. It’s very hard to argue for something that you don’t believe in. It’s possible, but since your students are still learning how to write a persuasive essay, letting them choose a topic they are passionate about is going to make it so much easier to learn all the other skills involved.
- Research All Sides of Your Topic
Once your students have picked a topic they are passionate about they must spend time researching all the different opinions and sides of the topic. They need to make sure they are knowledgeable in their stance. Your students need to know the other opinions, ideas, and facts of the opposing sides. They will not be able to write a very convincing essay if they have little knowledge or understanding of the topic.
- Choose a Clear Position
In persuasive writing, students can change their opinion during the research process. Once they have great knowledge and understanding of a topic they could decide their initial thought was wrong. Students need to choose a clear position after they research. You may have them write a thesis before researching, but they need to revise it once the research is done.
Sometimes when students find out that their initial thoughts are wrong they are devastated because it could have been something they believed their whole lives. If this is the case for a student remember that it is okay to let them choose a new topic.
- Create an Outline or Road Map
Your students need to take their research and create an outline of what they want to write. They should choose the strongest arguments and pick evidence for each argument too. This outline will help them write their paper, but they will also use it to prepare their reader for what is coming in the rest of the essay somewhere in their opening paragraph.
The outline of their persuasive writing paper is also the first place that students will start to take what they learned, facts and research, and form it into a clear argument that supports their ideas and opinions. This is a huge skill and creating an outline will make it easier.
Tips on Persuasive Writing: Know Your Audience
All of these tips concern the audience of your students’ persuasive essays. If you have not already considered how your students might share their work beyond the classroom, please do it now. Help them find a real audience for their work. Having a real and specific audience will help your students write their papers successfully. They need to know who their audience is.
- Identify Their Audience
Your students need to know who their audience is to write persuasively. Writers write differently for teenagers, adults, and kids. They write differently for politicians, doctors, teachers, and stay-at-home moms. They write differently for men, women, and other gender identities.
Writers use different vocabularies, tones of voice, paragraph lengths, sentence lengths, and essay lengths depending on who they are writing for. Until your students know who their audience is they can’t write successfully.
You could tell your students who their audience will be. Or you could have them find their audience. Who could they persuade with their writing now that they know their topic? Peers, teachers, principals, the mayor, the governor, the senator, scientists, or parents. Who will they write for?
You can also hold a special persuasive writing event where students with similar topics try to persuade parents who have influenced that area or industry. Invite several classes to join the event.
- Be Empathetic
A great persuasive writer will be empathic with the reader. They will let the reader know that they understand where they are coming from, that have been through something similar, or that they used to believe that too. However, the writer must truly become empathic and connect with their audience through emotions. They can’t fake it.
If your students use their research well they should understand opposing viewpoints in a new light which will help them develop empathy.
- Speak to the Reader
Good persuasive writers talk to the reader. It’s important to connect with the reader and make it personal. It’s the personal connection and speaking to the reader that makes the reader continue to read. It helps the reader want to learn more and consider this viewpoint, even if it is different from their own. Speaking to the reader helps the reader connect with the writer’s idea and gain knowledge and increases the ability to persuade the reader to change their opinion.
Strategy Tips on Persuasive Writing
There are various writing strategies that have been proven to work in persuasive writing. They aren’t a secret, but they are powerful. These strategies are used by politicians, in advertising, and anywhere you see anything persuasive. As you teach your students about these persuasive writing strategies they will start to be able to identify them in the world around them as they live life.
- Emphasis and Hyperbole
Emphasizing a point is a great way to hook the reader. When a writer focuses on a specific point of their argument and makes it larger than life and draws attention to it, it helps the reader get on board.
A great way to emphasize a point is to use hyperbole. If you haven’t taught your students’ hyperbole then this is a great time to do it. Hyperbole is an obvious exaggeration that makes a point. It’s like when people say they are so hungry they could eat a horse. They are not going to eat a horse or that amount of food, but they are incredibly hungry.
- Repeat Yourself
I was often told people need to hear something 3 times to remember it. I am sure several studies say it’s 7 times or 10 times. The point is people struggle to remember what they are told.
In advertising, it’s referred to as a cold lead or a warm lead. A cold lead is someone who has heard about a product or company 1 time so they might buy something small. A warm lead has heard about a company or product many times, so they trust it, so they might buy something big. How often a person has had repeated interaction with a company influences if they trust and believe them.
Every time a student repeats information the reader is coming in contact with it again and is more likely to believe it and be influenced by it. The tricky part is the writer can’t repeat themselves word for word because that’s boring for the reader. The writer must repeat information in various ways that keep the reader engaged.
- Supporting Evidence
Persuasive writers need to use evidence to support their thesis and ideas. Evidence can come in the form of facts, statistics, and testimonials. Students must weave these facts into their own ideas so that they support the thesis and influence the reader. If your students have enough research this should be fairly easy to implement because they have the information they need right there. However, it will require some practice to do it well.
- Anticipate Objections and Counterarguments
The best way for persuasive writers to anticipate objects and counterpoints is by researching. But first, let’s look at the difference between these. Objections are when someone rejects an idea for one reason or another. The reader often says they don’t have time or money for this or that. Counterarguments (counterpoints) are when the writer states a thesis and a reason why it’s true and then the reader argues a valid reason why the writer is wrong. It’s almost like debating.
If a writer says the school should remove plastic straws from the cafeteria because it is better for the environment and will save money. A counterargument could be that drinks taste better in plastic straws, metal straws are hard to wash and get a lot of bacteria in them, or not every family can afford to go buy metal straws.
- Use Experts
Experts are great supporting evidence. Advertisements use experts all the time. They often put a celebrity in an ad to make you trust the company selling. Toothpaste commercials state how 9 out of 10 dentists recommend their toothpaste over other brands. Students can use quotes and research done by experts to support their thesis.
- Escalate From Small to Big
If a persuasive writer is trying to write something complex they will often start with a small and logical explanation. As the writer develops the essay they will escalate it to fully encompass and support their thesis.
As the idea slowly grows from logical to much bigger a persuasive writer might ask their audience to do something about it. This is a call to action. A call to action is the change or action the writer wants the reader to take. It can be anything such as looking at school schedules to make the days shorter, giving up plastic straws, or go vote in the next election.
- Ask Rhetorical Questions
When a persuasive writer asks a rhetorical question they are getting the reader to think about the topic on a deeper level. Their deeper thinking and involvement help to keep the reader reading and consider changing their mind.
Writing Tips on Persuasive Writing
Now you have several ideas on how to get your students’ writing. It’s time to get down to some of the details of persuasive writing. If your students can incorporate a few of these ideas then their writing will be more persuasive.
- Hook the Reader
Just like any other writing, it’s important to hook the reader. If the reader gets bored quickly then they will stop reading and no one will be persuaded. Some ways to hook the reader are statistics, facts, rhetorical questions, and a clear thesis. Anecdotal stories can be another powerful tool to help engage the reader.
- Use Active Language
Active language is more powerful, commanding, and convincing. An easy way to tell if language is powerful is if the subject of a sentence is first, in control, and taking action.
Students should also edit out wish-washy confident language. A persuasive essay is there to convince the reader the thesis is correct. It’s not trying to prove the thesis might be correct, maybe, if this and that happen. Students should take out unsure language. Active language is often a challenge for students. Expect to review it several times.
- Use Simple and Specific Language
The language a persuasive writer is using should be simple. They want to convince the reader and help the reader understand their idea and point of view. If the reader can’t understand because the language is complex or confusing then the reader will stop reading. The language should be friendly and fairly simple.
The writer should also use specific language. Using the phrase, “That thing,” isn’t very convincing. The writer should use language that is specific to the topic and well explained. It increases their credibility and helps convince the reader to consider their opinion.
- Use Influential and Persusiave Words
There are tons of lists of persuasive words on Google. All you need to do is search for a list of persuasive words. Your students should be trying to incorporate some of the words from this list to help entice the reader. This can be part of their revision process.
Tips on Persuasive Writing
Your students will be more successful persuasive writers if they follow some of these tips. Review these tips with your students for each practice assignment so they can start incorporating more of them. This is not every tip on persuasive writing and if you have a few you’d like to share in the comments that would be great.
Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry
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