The Art of Persuasive Writing

Businesswoman making notes on a business report at her desk

The Art of Persuasive Writing

Copyright © Nina Sunday. All rights reserved.

Have you ever composed an email to persuade your reader to take an action or motivate them to agree to an idea or opinion?

And did you ever wonder . . . are some words more ‘influencing’ than others? This is where the art of persuasive writing comes in…

Here are suggestions around using language that’s proven to be effective to achieve a desired outcome.

1. Instead of a commanding tone, use a tone of possibility. Words such as:

• must
• should
• ought to
• have to
• need to

come across as ‘bossy’. They force the reader to obey. But humans respond more positively when given the perception of choice. These phrases work better:

I suggest . . .

• I recommend . . .
• You might like to . . .
• Please . .

This business writing style makes you appear as a trusted advisor, (not a police officer.)
Persuasive Sentence Starter

Do these sentence starters create an influencing effect?

• If you do decide to . . .
• Would you be willing to . . .
• Are you open to . . .
• I’m wondering if . . .
• I don’t know if . . .
• If you can . . . please, I’d appreciate it.

You might like to test how using these sentence starters result in a better response in your recipients.

Have you ever wondered the best way to give feedback about poor performance that does not alienate the receiver or create friction?

Here’s a BFIR (Behaviour – Feeling – Impact – Result) verbal template you can use to guide a change in behaviour.

‘When you ….(describe their behaviour)
I felt . . . (feeling e.g. frustrated, disappointed)


. . . (describe the observable impact)
And what I’d like to see in future is . . . ‘ (state the new result you’d like to see).

(Then ask)

What are your thoughts?
Here’s an example:

‘When you (arrived late to the meeting)
I felt (frustrated)
Because (we lost time recapping what had already been discussed)
And what I’d like to see in future is (you arrive a few minutes early
so the meeting can start sharp on time).
What are your thoughts?’

This Leadership tactic is used universally by mentors and coaches. Try it not only co-workers, but also with family and friends.

Final Tip: avoid using these phrases:
You always . . .(that’s catastrophising)
You never . . . (that’s also catastrophising)
You made me feel . . . (it’s a different nuance to ‘I felt’)

Are you looking to learn more about persuasive writing techniques? Contact us to discuss how we can help you improve your team’s ability to influence through written communication with either face-to-face training in your workplace or a live online workshop, or one-on-one online coaching. Visit our Business Writing training web page.