You are the writer and you want something from your readers. In my nine years of teaching Argumentation and Reasoning to college students, I have found that persuading or stimulating a reader in article writing, journalism, or blogging, is most effective when you use a proven 5 step process. The 5 steps are based on the findings of Professor Alan Monroe of the 1930s and his construction of "Monroe's Motivated Sequence."
This article provides Step 1 in a 5 part series. Step 1 is the introduction. Remember, you are asking readers to feel or believe or do as you suggest. This is no small quest, depending upon how much knowledge of the topic a reader has, and to what degree the reader is in agreement with your point (s). People, generally, have carved out workable belief and action systems for them over a lifetime. We are often unwilling to adopt a new position on matters without good reason. Part of that good reason is created in the writer's initial approach. This is the introduction of the article, blog, book, etc.
How a writer introduces himself / herself and the topic will determine whether the reader will begin to listen with both ears, one ear, or completely disregard the writing. Step 1 in the introduction of a persuasive writing piece has four subpoints:
a. The first words / sentences, called the opening of your article or blog. This is also referred to as the attention-grabber.
b. The introduction of your persuasive plug or what you are trying to move people toward.
c. The introduction of yourself, your interest in this topic, and / or your experience / credentials in this area.
d. Your segue into Step 2, which is the gentle nudge in your intended direction.
Starting with subpoint a, you need to create opening lines that grab the reader's attention. You can accomplish this in a number of ways. Depending upon your personal style, you can begin writing with a starting statement, a rhetorical question, an anddote, or even a short story or illustration to usher the reader into a place of receptiveness. This is called your "attention-grabber." You want the reader to identify with and warm up to your persuasive writing. You then write a transitional sentence or two that will tie into your overall persuasion and lead the reader into your personal introduction, which is subpoint b.
This may sound ridiculous, but many writers and speakers often forget to clearly pinpoint the exact measures of what is being called for, or what the writer's main persuasion is. Sometimes, the main persuasion is never directly stated and the reader has to infer or wander around the article trying to figure it out. Often, the writer attempts to include too many requests in one persuasion and the reader is torn in too many directions. This can lead to disinterest in the overall persuasion. If you absolutely, by the conclusion of your article, want the reader to consider buying golf equipment that has been recycled / reused, do not convolute the purpose in the introduction by also asking the reader to donate used golf equipment to second-hand shops . In subpoint b, be clear about what you want your readers to do, think, or say by the end of your article and then state it clearly and simply in this part of the introduction. This is the thread the reader will follow through the article. You can best lead your readers to water if you take them directly there, rather than taking a circuitous route around numerous puddles. It helps to insert a simple transitional phrase or sentence at the end of subpoint b.
Subpoint c is quite necessary in writing or public speaking, for that matter, if you want to ensure a positive exit with your persuasion. The brief self-introduction basically states your authority on the topic at hand. Reader's will ask themselves, "Why should I be persuaded by you?" You are supplying the reader with pertinent reasons to adjust to your way of thinking. If you write an article that requests community members to go outside and pick up one piece of litter everyday in an effort to cleanup and improve the neighborhood, you should be able to provide an example or explanation of why you, in particular, are pushing this persuasion. Have you, as the writer, ever routinely picked up trash in the community and not aware a difference? Or conversely, have you regularly ignored trash in the vicinity and not aware a deterioration of the environment? Subpoint c gives the reader a chance to evaluate your investment and experience in the persuasion. If the reader feels that you, the writer, have a direct, connective experience, he or she will be more likely to develop interest in your topic. Finish off subpoint c with a simple transition into subpoint d.
Finally, subpoint d is your extended transition into Step 2, which will be covered next week in this series of "The Five Steps of Persuasion." Unlike the simple, one-line transitions between the other subpoints, subpoint d is a more fundamental connector. These are the final introductory words before the real journey through your persuasion begin. You want this transition to be a smooth segue into the body of your article. Subpoint d can be a directional statement or two, such as, "I'd like to now discuss the heart of the matter with you …," or "You're probably wondering where I'm going next. t keep you in suspense. What I'm trying to convince you about is a very emotional issue. Let me begin by saying … "Transitions purely act as road signs to the next part of your journey. Full transitions, like subpoint d, prepare readers for a major shift, whereas simple transitions prepare readers for slight shifts within a major Step.
Writing can be overwhelming but if you have a step-by-step blueprint, it can be as simple as connecting the dots. This first step in the series of 5 is designed to help writers begin the persuasive or motivational process in their articles, blogs, and other professional and personal written communication. Step 2 covers emotional benefits and the most effective ways to use them in persuasion. Stay tuned!