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35 Strong Persuasive Writing Examples (Speeches, Essays, Ads, and More)
Learn from the experts.
The more we read, the better writers we become. Teaching students to write strong persuasive essays should always start with reading some top-notch models. This round-up of persuasive writing examples includes famous speeches, influential ad campaigns, contemporary reviews of famous books, and more. Use them to inspire your students to write their own essays. (Need persuasive essay topics? Check out our list of 60 interesting ideas here! )
- Persuasive Speeches
- Advertising Campaigns
- Persuasive Essays
Persuasive Speech Writing Examples
Many persuasive speeches are political in nature, often addressing subjects like human rights. Here are some of history’s most well-known persuasive writing examples in the form of speeches.
I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Sample lines: “And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Woodrow Wilson’s War Message to Congress, 1917
Sample lines: “There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts—for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.”
Chief Seattle’s 1854 Oration
Sample lines: “I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends, and children. Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as they swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch.”
Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, Hillary Rodham Clinton
Sample lines: “What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations do as well. … If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.”
I Am Prepared to Die, Nelson Mandela
Sample lines: “Above all, My Lord, we want equal political rights, because without them our disabilities will be permanent. I know this sounds revolutionary to the whites in this country, because the majority of voters will be Africans. This makes the white man fear democracy. But this fear cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the only solution which will guarantee racial harmony and freedom for all. It is not true that the enfranchisement of all will result in racial domination. Political division, based on color, is entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one color group by another. … This then is what the ANC is fighting. Our struggle is a truly national one. It is a struggle of the African people, inspired by our own suffering and our own experience. It is a struggle for the right to live.”
The Struggle for Human Rights by Eleanor Roosevelt
Sample lines: “It is my belief, and I am sure it is also yours, that the struggle for democracy and freedom is a critical struggle, for their preservation is essential to the great objective of the United Nations to maintain international peace and security. Among free men the end cannot justify the means. We know the patterns of totalitarianism—the single political party, the control of schools, press, radio, the arts, the sciences, and the church to support autocratic authority; these are the age-old patterns against which men have struggled for 3,000 years. These are the signs of reaction, retreat, and retrogression. The United Nations must hold fast to the heritage of freedom won by the struggle of its people; it must help us to pass it on to generations to come.”
Freedom From Fear by Aung San Suu Kyi
Sample lines: “Saints, it has been said, are the sinners who go on trying. So free men are the oppressed who go on trying and who in the process make themselves fit to bear the responsibilities and to uphold the disciplines which will maintain a free society. Among the basic freedoms to which men aspire that their lives might be full and uncramped, freedom from fear stands out as both a means and an end. A people who would build a nation in which strong, democratic institutions are firmly established as a guarantee against state-induced power must first learn to liberate their own minds from apathy and fear.”
Harvey Milk’s “The Hope” Speech
Sample lines: “Some people are satisfied. And some people are not. You see there is a major difference—and it remains a vital difference—between a friend and a gay person, a friend in office and a gay person in office. Gay people have been slandered nationwide. We’ve been tarred and we’ve been brushed with the picture of pornography. In Dade County, we were accused of child molestation. It is not enough anymore just to have friends represent us, no matter how good that friend may be.”
The Strike and the Union, Cesar Chavez
Sample lines: “We are showing our unity in our strike. Our strike is stopping the work in the fields; our strike is stopping ships that would carry grapes; our strike is stopping the trucks that would carry the grapes. Our strike will stop every way the grower makes money until we have a union contract that guarantees us a fair share of the money he makes from our work! We are a union and we are strong and we are striking to force the growers to respect our strength!”
Nobel Lecture by Malala Yousafzai
Sample lines: “The world can no longer accept that basic education is enough. Why do leaders accept that for children in developing countries, only basic literacy is sufficient, when their own children do homework in algebra, mathematics, science, and physics? Leaders must seize this opportunity to guarantee a free, quality, primary and secondary education for every child. Some will say this is impractical, or too expensive, or too hard. Or maybe even impossible. But it is time the world thinks bigger.”
Persuasive Writing Examples in Advertising Campaigns
Ads are prime persuasive writing examples. You can flip open any magazine or watch TV for an hour or two to see sample after sample of persuasive language. Here are some of the most popular ad campaigns of all time, with links to articles explaining why they were so successful.
Nike: Just Do It
The iconic swoosh with the simple tagline has persuaded millions to buy their kicks from Nike and Nike alone. Teamed with pro sports star endorsements, this campaign is one for the ages. Blinkist offers an opinion on what made it work.
Dove: Real Beauty
Beauty brand Dove changed the game by choosing “real” women to tell their stories instead of models. They used relatable images and language to make connections, and inspired other brands to try the same concept. Learn why Global Brands considers this one a true success story.
Wendy’s: Where’s the Beef?
Today’s kids are too young to remember the cranky old woman demanding to know where the beef was on her fast-food hamburger. But in the 1980s, it was a catchphrase that sold millions of Wendy’s burgers. Learn from Better Marketing how this ad campaign even found its way into the 1984 presidential debate.
De Beers: A Diamond Is Forever
A diamond engagement ring has become a standard these days, but the tradition isn’t as old as you might think. In fact, it was De Beers jewelry company’s 1948 campaign that created the modern engagement ring trend. The Drum has the whole story of this sparkling campaign.
Volkswagen: Think Small
Americans have always loved big cars. So in the 1960s, when Volkswagen wanted to introduce their small cars to a bigger market, they had a problem. The clever “Think Small” campaign gave buyers clever reasons to consider these models, like “If you run out of gas, it’s easy to push.” Learn how advertisers interested American buyers in little cars at Visual Rhetoric.
American Express: Don’t Leave Home Without It
AmEx was once better known for traveler’s checks than credit cards, and the original slogan was “Don’t leave home without them.” A simple word change convinced travelers that American Express was the credit card they needed when they headed out on adventures. Discover more about this persuasive campaign from Medium.
Skittles: Taste the Rainbow
These candy ads are weird and intriguing and probably not for everyone. But they definitely get you thinking, and that often leads to buying. Learn more about why these wacky ads are successful from The Drum.
Maybelline: Maybe She’s Born With It
Smart wordplay made this ad campaign slogan an instant hit. The ads teased, “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.” (So many literary devices all in one phrase!) Fashionista has more on this beauty campaign.
Coca-Cola: Share a Coke
Seeing their own name on a bottle made teens more likely to want to buy a Coke. What can that teach us about persuasive writing in general? It’s an interesting question to consider. Learn more about the “Share a Coke” campaign from Digital Vidya.
Talk about the power of words! This Always campaign turned the derogatory phrase “like a girl” on its head, and the world embraced it. Storytelling is an important part of persuasive writing, and these ads really do it well. Medium has more on this stereotype-bashing campaign.
Editorial Persuasive Writing Examples
Source: New York Daily News
Newspaper editors or publishers use editorials to share their personal opinions. Noted politicians, experts, or pundits may also offer their opinions on behalf of the editors or publishers. Here are a couple of older well-known editorials, along with a selection from current newspapers.
Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus (1897)
Sample lines: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.”
What’s the Matter With Kansas? (1896)
Sample lines: “Oh, this IS a state to be proud of! We are a people who can hold up our heads! What we need is not more money, but less capital, fewer white shirts and brains, fewer men with business judgment, and more of those fellows who boast that they are ‘just ordinary clodhoppers, but they know more in a minute about finance than John Sherman,’ we need more men … who hate prosperity, and who think, because a man believes in national honor, he is a tool of Wall Street.”
America Can Have Democracy or Political Violence. Not Both. (The New York Times)
Sample lines: “The nation is not powerless to stop a slide toward deadly chaos. If institutions and individuals do more to make it unacceptable in American public life, organized violence in the service of political objectives can still be pushed to the fringes. When a faction of one of the country’s two main political parties embraces extremism, that makes thwarting it both more difficult and more necessary. A well-functioning democracy demands it.”
The Booster Isn’t Perfect, But Still Can Help Against COVID (The Washington Post)
Sample lines: “The booster shots are still free, readily available and work better than the previous boosters even as the virus evolves. Much still needs to be done to build better vaccines that protect longer and against more variants, including those that might emerge in the future. But it is worth grabbing the booster that exists today, the jab being a small price for any measure that can help keep COVID at bay.”
If We Want Wildlife to Thrive in L.A., We Have To Share Our Neighborhoods With Them (Los Angeles Times)
Sample lines: “If there are no corridors for wildlife movement and if excessive excavation of dirt to build bigger, taller houses erodes the slope of a hillside, then we are slowly destroying wildlife habitat. For those people fretting about what this will do to their property values—isn’t open space, trees, and wildlife an amenity in these communities?”
Persuasive Review Writing Examples
Source: The New York Times
Book or movie reviews are more great persuasive writing examples. Look for those written by professionals for the strongest arguments and writing styles. Here are reviews of some popular books and movies by well-known critics to use as samples.
The Great Gatsby (The Chicago Tribune, 1925)
Sample lines: “What ails it, fundamentally, is the plain fact that it is simply a story—that Fitzgerald seems to be far more interested in maintaining its suspense than in getting under the skins of its people. It is not that they are false: It is that they are taken too much for granted. Only Gatsby himself genuinely lives and breathes. The rest are mere marionettes—often astonishingly lifelike, but nevertheless not quite alive.”
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Washington Post, 1999)
Sample lines: “Obviously, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone should make any modern 11-year-old a very happy reader. The novel moves quickly, packs in everything from a boa constrictor that winks to a melancholy Zen-spouting centaur to an owl postal system, and ends with a scary surprise. Yet it is, essentially, a light-hearted thriller, interrupted by occasional seriousness (the implications of Harry’s miserable childhood, a moral about the power of love).”
Twilight (The Telegraph, 2009)
Sample lines: “No secret, of course, at whom this book is aimed, and no doubt, either, that it has hit its mark. The four Twilight novels are not so much enjoyed, as devoured, by legions of young female fans worldwide. That’s not to say boys can’t enjoy these books; it’s just that the pages of heart-searching dialogue between Edward and Bella may prove too long on chat and too short on action for the average male reader.”
To Kill a Mockingbird (Time, 1960)
Sample lines: “Author Lee, 34, an Alabaman, has written her first novel with all of the tactile brilliance and none of the preciosity generally supposed to be standard swamp-warfare issue for Southern writers. The novel is an account of an awakening to good and evil, and a faint catechistic flavor may have been inevitable. But it is faint indeed; novelist Lee’s prose has an edge that cuts through cant, and she teaches the reader an astonishing number of useful truths about little girls and about Southern life.”
The Diary of Anne Frank (The New York Times, 1952)
Sample lines: “And this quality brings it home to any family in the world today. Just as the Franks lived in momentary fear of the Gestapo’s knock on their hidden door, so every family today lives in fear of the knock of war. Anne’s diary is a great affirmative answer to the life-question of today, for she shows how ordinary people, within this ordeal, consistently hold to the greater human values.”
Persuasive Essay Writing Examples
From the earliest days of print, authors have used persuasive essays to try to sway others to their own point of view. Check out these top examples.
The American Crisis by Thomas Paine
Sample lines: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”
Politics and the English Language by George Orwell
Sample lines: “As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug.”
Letter From a Birmingham Jail by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Sample lines: “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was ‘well timed’ in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.'”
Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
Sample lines: “Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.”
Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Roger Ebert
Sample lines: “‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime.”
What are your favorite persuasive writing examples to use with students? Come share your ideas in the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .
Plus, the big list of essay topics for high school (100+ ideas) ..
Jill Staake is a Contributing Editor with WeAreTeachers. She has a degree in Secondary English Education and has taught in middle and high school classrooms. She's also done training and curriculum design for a financial institution and been a science museum educator. She currently lives in Tampa, Florida where she often works on her back porch while taking frequent breaks for bird-watching and gardening.
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Persuasive Articles: Analyzing the Structure
How to write a persuasive article:.
- State your issue and point of view.
- Use the best arguments and evidence you have.
- Be logical and consistent.
- Use influential language (power words, persuasive writing techniques, transitions).
- Write in present tense.
With tons of persuasive essays to write in college, you want to understand this concept better, right? Persuasive articles are among the most common writing types to convince readers of a writer’s opinion, so they have a definite structure and language units to communicate arguments.
And while some persuasive articles (political speeches or argumentative essays in newspapers) try hard to make the audience act, persuasive essays you write in college share arguments with readers to prove them your point of view.
We believe you’ve checked our long read on how to write a persuasive essay already. Now, let’s take a look at the structure of a persuasive article to understand what tricks make it… well, persuasive .
Persuasive Articles: The Structure
In plain English, persuasive writing is an essay that offers a polemical opinion and provides an argument and evidence to prove it. When writing it, you want the audience to agree with you, so your task is to convince them.
All persuasive essay examples demonstrate that the structure of such articles reminds a standard five-paragraph essay :
- You need to write an introduction.
- Then, write 2-3 paragraphs with arguments and counterarguments (remember about the evidence to include).
- And finally, finish the essay with a conclusion.
To make it easier for you, here goes a template you can use when writing a persuasive article. Fill it in, and the detailed outline for your essay is ready.
Persuasive Essay Template
Persuasive Articles: The Language
Yes, the structure of persuasive articles is simple. But, as far as you understand, it’s not what makes them so convincing. Clear yet emotional language, concise writing style, power words that reinforce a writer’s opinion with facts and evidence – that’s only a few persuasive writing techniques to use when structuring your essay.
A persuasive article is a mix of emotive language, critical thinking, and successful arguments with hard evidence. To convince the audience, you need to write an essay with particular words, phrases, and persuasive writing techniques in mind.
Persuasive Writing Techniques
Persuasive essays are those written with the right combination of emotional and rational elements in mind. Writers appeal to logic and emotions, which makes their texts sound reasonable and credible.
The basic strategies, also known as the rhetorical triangle , to use for that are:
- Logos: logic and facts to persuade the audience.
- Ethos: credibility and expertise (appealing to big names and their reputation) to persuade the audience.
- Pathos: emotional language to persuade the audience.
For these elements to sound persuasive in writing, authors use techniques such as clarity, consistency, repetition, specific and precise language, calls to actions, power words, etc. All they help to make texts more interesting and memorable.
Carefully-chosen words do wonders. We bet you heard of Robert Cialdini and his principles of persuasion: commonly used in marketing texts to influence buying decisions, they work for other writing styles too.
Top blogger and storyteller, Jon Morrow described power words like this:
In his article , Jon shares the fragment of Winston Churchill’s speech (with power words underlined) to illustrate how carefully-chosen words can turn a text into persuasive writing.
So, don’t forget about persuasive writing techniques when structuring your essay.
Words and Phrases to Use
As you see, vocabulary matters in persuasive writing. Sure enough, you can’t use all power words at once. And you shouldn’t use too difficult language and long sentences with vague phrases. Plus, too emotional phrases won’t work well in academic writing.
Too many can’ts and don’ts, huh?
No worries! Once you’ve figured out the persuasive writing techniques for your essay, feel free to choose among these words and transitional phrases to include. They will help to describe relationships between the arguments in your essay and demonstrate how much you believe in what you’re writing.
More words to use in persuasive essays are here .
Writing Tips to Follow
Besides power words and relevant transitional phrases, the structure of persuasive articles involves a writing style and tone of voice that would make it sound credible and convincing enough for the audience to believe it.
For that, it needs to be brief and concise, clear and argumentative, punchy and to the point. Consider these tips when thinking about how to write a persuasive essay:
- Use active voice and Simple Present tense.
- Use straightforward language, and don’t leave any doubts about your point of view.
- Make sure to find strong and up-to-date evidence to support arguments in your persuasive essay.
- One paragraph = one argument.
- Use power words and strong transitional phrases to convince readers.
- Use descriptive language (emotive adjectives and adverbs) if relevant, but don’t go crazy. Stay brief and rational.
Still wonder what the structure of a persuasive article looks?
Check these samples of elementary persuasive essays from students or ask us to write a sample essay to use for illustrative purposes next time a teacher assigns such a paper to you.
Our Writing Guides
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Home » General Articles (Random Topics) » Persuasive articles
Persuasive articles, also known as argument essays, use logic in proving that one idea is more legitimate than the other. They convince readers to adopt a particular viewpoint or take a certain action.
These articles are not blarney but they use sound reasoning and evidence by stating facts, citing examples, quoting experts and giving logical arguments. Persuasive writers employ techniques and writing styles that improve the quality of their claim. Therefore, a persuasive essay may be defined as an essay which “offers, promotes and supports an opinion”. Early rhetoricians were particularly concerned with persuasive writing and oratory. Cicero defined persuasive writing in his work “Oratory” as “This eloquence has the power to sway man’s mind and move them in every possible way”. There are three “appeals” connected with persuasive writing which are discussed in the forthcoming paragraphs.
While writing persuasive articles,
writers may make their opinions believable by appealing to credibility. According to Aristotle, this is called an appeal to “ethos”. The writer will appear further credible to the intended audience by writing with clarity and eliminating contradictions, within the text. Syntax and mechanics of the write-up should be free of errors. In addition, the absence of factual errors in the subject matter will help in building credibility.
The second appeal called logos
serves as a writer by appealing to logic so that the readers could be persuaded. Supporting statements for the writer’s claims manifest this appeal. An effective appeal to logos needs tangible evidence and this may be provided by a quote from the acknowledged written material. By paying heed to this consideration, a writer will appeal to the rationality of the audience.
The third and the most powerful
An appeal is the appeal to emotions or “pathos”. Mendelson has rightly said that “a successful pathetic appeal will put the audience in a suitable mood by addressing their knowledge of or feelings about the subject”. Pathos is effective in conquering the audience and molding their views according to the writer’s choice. All three appeals, when aptly availed, can result in a convincing combination.
There is a traditional structure;
the parts of which could be used to enhance argument in persuasive articles. Although, compulsory use of these parts in precisely the same order is not advisable, yet they assist in building a clean and persuading structure. The parts are: • Exordium – the introductory part • Narration – this is the background statement of facts • Partition – prediction of the topics to be covered • Conformation – contemporary English language will call it the body of the text • Refutation – a discussion of available alternatives • Peroration – this is the conclusion. When preparation is connected back to exordium, it may turn into a substantial persuasive force. • Rhetorical Questions – these are to make the readers ponder.
These steps should be remembered to produce effective persuasive articles:
1. Decide your position. In which camp will you accommodate? Do you have solutions to offer? 2. Analyze the audience. What the majority of the audience believes? 3. Research the topic. For the sake of ethos, you should be willing to go beyond your knowledge and gather information. The basic steps have been discussed; there may be hundreds of more techniques. However, persuasive writing is more an art than a science. You will be successful only when your writing is artistic rather than merely stating the facts and figures.
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6 Successful Persuasive Writing Strategies
Persuasive writing is any written work that tries to convince the reader of the writer’s opinion. Aside from standard writing skills, a persuasive essay author can also draw on personal experience, logical arguments, an appeal to emotion, and compelling speech to influence readers.
Persuasive writing relies on different techniques and strategies than other written works: In a persuasive essay, it’s not enough to simply inform; you also have to convince the reader that your way of thinking is best. So to help you get started, this guide explains all the basics and provides persuasive writing examples.
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What is persuasive writing?
Unlike other forms of writing meant to share information or entertain, persuasive writing is specifically written to persuade , which is to say it convinces the reader to agree with a certain point of view.
Persuasive essays are most closely related to argumentative essays , in that both discuss a serious issue with logical arguments and offer conclusive resolutions. The main difference between a persuasive essay and an argumentative essay is that persuasive essays focus more on personal experience and appeal to emotions, whereas argumentative essays mostly stick to the facts.
Moreover, argumentative essays discuss both sides of an issue, whereas persuasive essays focus only on the author’s point of view. The language and tone in persuasive essays tend to be more conversational as well—a tactic of persuasive speech intended to build a more personal and intimate relationship between the author and reader.
>>Read More: The Only Guide to Essay Writing You’ll Ever Need
Why is persuasive writing important?
For starters, there’s always a demand for persuasive writing in the world of business. Advertising, website copywriting, and general branding all rely heavily on persuasive messaging to convince the reader to become a customer of their company.
But persuasive writing doesn’t always have to be self-serving. Historically speaking, persuasive essays have helped turn the tide in many political and social movements since the invention of the printing press.
As you can see from the persuasive writing examples below, the techniques of persuasive speech can help change or challenge majority beliefs in society. In fact, if you look into any major cultural movement of the last few centuries, you’ll find persuasive writing that helped rally the people behind a cause.
Ethos, logos, and pathos in persuasive writing
There are lots of ways to persuade people, but some methods are more effective than others. As we mention in our guide on how to write a persuasive essay , good persuasive writing utilizes what’s known as the modes of persuasion : ethos, logos, and pathos.
First put forth by Aristotle in his treatise Rhetoric from 367–322 BCE, ethos, logos, and pathos have since become the core of modern persuasive speech and should be incorporated into any persuasive essay. Let’s break them down individually.
The ancient Greek word for “character” or “spirit,” ethos in persuasive writing refers to how the author presents themself. Authorities on an issue are most likely to convince the reader, so authors of persuasive writing should establish their credibility as soon as possible.
Aristotle suggests that the author demonstrates their useful skills, virtue, and goodwill toward the reader to present themselves in the best light.
The ancient Greek word for “logic” or “rationale,” logos refers to using logical arguments and evidential data. A good writer doesn’t rely only on persuasive speech—they also back up their perspective with statistics and facts.
Logos isn’t just about backing up arguments with plenty of research (although that is essential). In persuasive writing, logos also refers to structuring your argument in the best way possible. That includes knowing how to start an essay , progressing your points in the right order, and ending with a powerful conclusion .
The ancient Greek word for “suffering” or “experience,” pathos involves an author’s appeal to emotion. As much as we’d like to think of ourselves as logical creatures, study after study has shown that humans tend to make decisions more from emotions than from reason—and a good persuasive writer is well aware of this.
Persuasive speech often “tugs at the heartstrings.” The author might share a personal experience, such as describing a painful event to either win the reader’s sympathy or urge them to consider someone else’s feelings.
Aristotle emphasizes the importance of understanding your reader before employing pathos, as different individuals can have different emotional reactions to the same writing.
Persuasive writing tips and strategies
1 choose wording carefully.
Word choice —the words and phrases you decide to use—is crucial in persuasive writing as a way to build a personal relationship with the reader. You want to always pick the best possible words and phrases in each instance to convince the reader that your opinion is right.
Persuasive writing often uses strong language, so state things definitively and avoid “ hedging .” Persuasive writing also takes advantage of emotive language—words and phrases that describe feelings—to encourage the reader to form sentimental connections to the topic.
Wordplay like puns, rhymes, and jokes also works as a good memory tool to help the reader remember key points and your central argument.
2 Ask questions
Questions are great for transitioning from one topic or paragraph to another , but in persuasive writing, they serve an additional role. Any question you write, your reader will instinctively answer in their head if they can, or at least they’ll wonder about it for a moment.
Persuasive writers can use questions to engage the reader’s critical thinking. First, questions can be used to plant ideas and lead the reader straight to the author’s answers. Second, if you’ve presented your evidence clearly and structured your argument well, simply asking the right question can lead the reader to the author’s conclusion on their own—the ultimate goal of persuasive writing.
3 Write a clear thesis statement
A thesis statement openly communicates the central idea or theme of a piece of writing. In a persuasive essay, your thesis statement is essentially the point of view that you’re trying to convince the reader of.
It’s best to include a clear, transparent thesis statement in the introduction or opening of your essay to avoid confusion. You’ll have a hard time trying to convince the reader if they don’t know what you’re talking about.
4 Draw a persuasion map
A persuasion map is like an outline of your argument, designed as a writing tool to help writers organize their thoughts. While there are different formats to choose from, they all typically involve listing out your main points and then the evidence and examples to back up each of those points.
Persuasion maps work great for people who often lose track of their ideas when writing or for people who have trouble staying organized. It’s a great tool to use before you write your outline, so you know everything you want to include before deciding on the order.
5 Speak directly to the reader
As we’ve mentioned above, the relationship between the author and reader is quite significant in persuasive writing. One strategy to develop that bond is to speak directly to the reader, sometimes even addressing them directly as “you.”
Speaking to the reader is an effective strategy in writing. It makes the writing feel more like a conversation, even if it is one-sided, and can encourage the reader to lower their defenses a little and consider your points with an open mind.
6 Repeat your main arguments
Repetition is a classic technique in persuasive writing as a way to get ideas into your readers’ heads. For one thing, repetition is an excellent memory aid, as any teacher will tell you. The more someone hears something, the more likely they are to remember it. In persuasive writing, however, repetition can also influence readers’ way of thinking.
Repeating the same idea over and over essentially normalizes it. When combined with substantial evidence and rationality, repetition can make even radical ideas seem more grounded.
Examples of persuasive writing
As mentioned above, persuasive essays have assisted in many major historical events and movements, often when society was undergoing a significant shift in beliefs. Below are three such persuasive writing examples from different periods of American history:
- Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776): Not all colonial Americans thought a revolution against England was a good idea. Thomas Paine released this forty-seven-page pamphlet to the general public to convince them the American Revolution was not only a good idea but also an ethical one.
- Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States by Susan B. Anthony, et al. (1876): Written in the style of the Declaration of Independence, this document outlined the requests of the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). Mentioning the hardships of women and calling out the inequality between genders, this printed pamphlet was distributed illegally at the centennial Independence Day celebration in Philadelphia.
- Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963): Imprisoned for a nonviolent protest, King wrote this persuasive essay in response to published criticism of the Civil Rights Movement by Southern religious leaders. Although the essay addressed the critics directly, it was simultaneously approachable to anyone interested in King’s point of view.
Persuasive writing FAQs
What is persuasive writing?
Persuasive writing is a text in which the author tries to convince the reader of their point of view. Unlike academic papers and other formal writing, persuasive writing tries to appeal to emotion alongside factual evidence and data to support its claims.
What is an example of persuasive writing?
Some famous examples of persuasive writing throughout history include Common Sense by Thomas Paine, the Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States by Susan B. Anthony, et al., and Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
What are different types of persuasive writing?
While persuasive essays are the most famous example of persuasive writing, the same style also applies to writing in advertising, journalistic op-ed pieces, public speeches, public service announcements, and critical reviews.
How to Write a Persuasive Essay
Updated August 17, 2022 • 5 min read
So you've been assigned a persuasive essay: lucky you! This is your best shot at learning to influence people in every arena of your life.
Everyone wants to have influence of some kind: in their relationships, their career, their community, or their online spaces.
Persuasion is at the heart of influence. Good persuaders know how to convince an audience and even move people to action.
Persuasion is a skill you learn by doing, and one of the best ways to learn is by writing a persuasive essay.
What Is a Persuasive Essay?
A persuasive essay — also called a position paper or argument essay — is a piece of academic writing in which you employ logic and evidence to convince a reader to accept your point of view.
Whether you go to college in person or online, at some point you're going to have to write a persuasive essay.
Here are five simple steps to get you started.
5 Simple Steps for Writing a Persusive Essay
1. know your audience.
All writing is written to someone. With that in mind, you need to begin by understanding your audience.
- Who are you trying to persuade?
- What do they care about?
- What views and opinions do they already hold?
- Are they already open to your point of view, or are they skeptical?
- What arguments will they find most compelling?
What works with one audience may not work with another.
Are you writing for middle-aged conservatives or for a cross-section of leftist Gen-Z undergrads? Write directly to that audience.
It is always a mistake to assume your audience will understand what you meant to say. In fact, it can be helpful to imagine that your readers are both lazy and uncharitable (really!).
- Lazy: They will not make special efforts to understand unclear writing
- Uncharitable: They will assume your claims are false
It is your job to overcome these deficiencies in your reader by:
- Writing clearly, and
- Providing sufficient evidence for your claims
2. State Your Position
This might seem obvious, but every persuasive argument should establish a clear claim. What exactly are you arguing for? If the audience has to guess, you've already lost their attention.
You can avoid that problem by developing a strong thesis statement right out the gate. Reference it frequently to keep your reader focused on the matter at hand as you build each part of your argument.
How Do I Write a Strong Thesis Statement?
The trick to composing a solid thesis statement that can motivate an entire essay is to do your research first . That way, you won't commit to a position you can't make a compelling case for.
A thesis statement should be:
- Easy to understand
- Focused in scope
If your thesis statement is too broad — "I argue that we should do something to combat climate change" — the argument will be both harder to establish and less interesting.
But if your thesis statement has a tight focus — "I argue that local governments can combat climate change by funding urban gardening projects" — you will be able to present specific, convincing evidence. Your argument will be much more compelling and actionable.
3. Draw a Roadmap
Once you've stated your claim, create a roadmap for your audience. Let the readers know exactly what to expect by explaining what you are going to do and how you are going to do it.
Use keywords to guide the reader, like "first" and "second." Don't do anything in the paper that you haven't outlined in your roadmap. Tangents will only confuse your audience. Aim for a coherent, logical flow that is easy for the reader to track.
Creating a good roadmap can be a lot harder than it sounds. To make it easier, draft an outline of your entire paper before writing it.
- Thesis statement/opening paragraph
- Address objections
4. Support Your Argument
However, arguments stem from opinions. That's why we construct arguments in the first place: We have opinions, and we want other people to agree with them.
It's not enough to state your opinion with rhetorical flair. This isn't Twitter. You've got to back yourself up with good evidence and research.
Here are three things that will help you do that.
Statistics can be very convincing. It's hard to object to cold, hard numbers. Of course, stats can also be manipulated or misinterpreted, so be sure to provide the full context for any data you use and credit your sources.
Good examples, including testimony and anecdotes, can strengthen your point. Examples are vivid and exciting in a way that numbers aren't, which can help your reader see things from a new perspective. Make sure your examples are specific and applicable.
Referencing an expert's knowledge, experience, or researched conclusions is a persuasive way to provide evidence for your argument. Make sure to choose a relevant expert with good credentials. Otherwise, you'll weaken your position.
One way to absolutely sink your essay is to engage in any kind of logical fallacy to support your claims. Make sure you know what logical fallacies are and how to avoid them.
5. Anticipate Objections
One of the most persuasive things you can do is raise objections to your own points.
That may seem counterintuitive — why would I highlight viewpoints that oppose the one I'm arguing for? — but this is where knowing your audience really matters.
Your points might be brilliant and dazzling, but if your argument comes off as one-sided, your efforts at persuasion are going to fail.
On the flip side, if you can anticipate the objections your audience is most likely to raise and raise them yourself, you can then swiftly refute those objections with sound logic and good evidence.
In debate, this tactic is called a "prebuttal," and it makes your position look much stronger.
As an added benefit, the reader comes away with the sense that you have been very transparent, understood their perspective, and addressed their hesitations directly.
The result? Your audience is persuaded to agree with you.
If you want to ace that persuasive essay, dominate that debate, or learn how to effectively influence others, follow these five steps:
- Know your audience
- State your position clearly
- Draw a roadmap
- Support your arguments with evidence, including data, examples, and experts
- Anticipate and respond to objections
Also, check out your school's writing center! The folks who work there can help you master these techniques for free.
Meg Embry is a Colorado-based writer for TheBestSchools.org covering higher education. She is an award-winning journalist who has lived and worked in Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States.
Header Image Credit: Ezra Bailey, Elke Schroeder / EyeEm | Getty Images
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