All business writing is in some ways persuasive. You need to persuade readers to believe what you say and to think it is important.
But some messages require serious persuasion. Your readers are disinterested or even actively hostile to your ideas. Reaching resistant readers is an art.
How can I persuade resistant readers?
Start by thinking about what your readers want. You can’t persuade by showing how your ideas benefit you, but rather how they benefit your readers.
I want to go to the beach on Tuesday because the weather is going to be perfect and I can’t stand the idea of being cooped up in the warehouse, so could you cover my shift?
You were hoping to get more hours this week, and you wanted more experience driving the fork truck, so I wonder if you could cover my shift on Tuesday.
Then, organize your message to persuade readers.
How should I organize persuasive messages?
Use the AIDA formula: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
- Get readers’ Attention by appealing to what they want.
You’ve been hoping for a chance for advancement, and that chance might be here.
This formula lets you persuade a resistant reader by showing benefits before you make your call to action: “Please see Ms. Wilson’s email below and follow the directions to indicate your interest.” If you had started with that command, the reader likely would have just said, “No.”
How should I form my call to action?
Create a command sentence, starting with a verb that tells the reader what to do (or “please” plus the verb).
I want you to fill out this survey about the company picnic.
Fill out this survey about the company picnic.
Please fill out this survey about the company picnic.