Get Readers to Say “Yes”


—Bite-sized advice for better business writing—

Get Readers to Say “Yes”

“It is wise to persuade people to do things and make them think it was their own idea.”

— Nelson Mandela

Persuasion is power. If you can convince readers to accept your ideas and act upon them, your ideas become real.

As Nelson Mandela states, the art of persuasion is making others think your ideas are theirs.

How can I get readers to say “yes”?

You can’t persuade readers by showing how an idea or action benefits you.

Buy ABC Vitamins to make me rich!

Instead, you have to persuade by showing how the idea or action benefits readers.

Boost your energy, immunity, vision, and heart health with ABC Vitamins.

Readers want better energy, immunity, vision, and heart health, so buying ABC Vitamins feels as if it is their idea. This call to action persuades in a single sentence by showing benefits for readers.

You can also persuade in paragraphs and longer forms—emails, memos, letters, and proposals.

How can I persuade in longer documents?

Don’t start with your call to action—”Buy ABC Vitamins!” Readers will probably say, “No.”

Instead, hook readers’ Attention, build Interest and Desire, and then call readers to Action. This is the AIDA formula, ending with your persuasive point.

Remember when you had boundless energy and never got sick?

Don’t you wish you could feel that way again?

Vitamins A, B, and C can boost your energy, immunity, vision, and heart health—with just one pill per day.

Use ABC Vitamins and feel like a kid again!

If this sounds like a commercial, that’s because commercials use the AIDA formula. They can persuade millions of viewers in just 30 seconds.

You can use the same approach to persuade—whether you are selling a product to a client, asking a colleague to help on a project, or suggesting that a supervisor give you a raise.

What if my readers are resistant?

Think about readers’ objections to your ideas and answer those objections:

  • Objection: Vitamins are for kids.
    Answer: ABC Vitamins are for adults who want to feel like kids again.
  • Objection: I don’t like to swallow pills.
    Answer: Choose easy-to-swallow ABC gel tabs or ABC chewables.
  • Objection: My doctor hasn’t said anything about vitamins.
    Answer: The National Institutes of Health recommend vitamin supplements for those with deficiencies.

How can I practice persuasive writing?

The online mini-course Writing to Persuade provides 5 hours of instruction and activities that teach powerful persuasive strategies. You’ll read explanations, see examples, watch videos, and complete exercises—writing about topics from your workplace. The exercises are scored, with feedback to deepen your learning. You can work on your computer, phone, or smartboard—anywhere you have Internet access.

Upon completion, you’ll receive a certificate for 0.5 continuing education units. Better yet, you’ll be able to persuade colleagues and clients to agree with you and take action!

If you want your team to improve their persuasive writing, check out the facilitator version of Writing to Persuade. You can brand the course however you wish, set up a class roster, track the progress of participants, and even drill down to see their individual answers.

Get More Support

Check out the Write for Business Guide, Courses, and eTips for more help with basic grammar.