When you need to convince your reader of something, look for inspiration from ancient Greece.
That's where Aristotle, the father of rhetoric, introduced three effective means of appealing to audiences. You can use them to write more persuasively:
- Appeal to ethos: Establish your ethical trustworthiness as a writer.
- Appeal to logos: Use logic to argue for a conclusion.
- Appeal to pathos: Connect to your reader’s needs and desires.
How can I show that I am trustworthy?
Treat yourself, your reader, and your subject ethically, making realistic statements that are backed up with solid support. Always avoid overly emotional statements. Once you have established trust, maintain it.
Don't Say: You got a hankering to shoot some big game? Come on down to Grand Teton for the annual elk shoot. They’re monster-sized, and they gotta go!
Do Say: Grand Teton National Park will conduct its annual Elk Reduction Program beginning Saturday, October 8. Licensed hunters can sign up to help reduce the oversized herd and ensure elk population health.
How can I use logic to convince the reader?
Build your argument carefully using sound reasoning. If readers can follow your logic, they are likely to accept your conclusion.
Don't Say: We make sure to feed the elk too much every winter so that by next fall we can shoot as many as we want. And they’re big targets, so they’re easy to hit.
Do Say: The winter-feeding program at the National Elk Refuge has prevented starvation, but lack of predators and an artificially low mortality rate make elk numbers problematic.
How can I connect to the reader’s needs?
Analyze what your reader needs, wants, and values. Then responsibly connect your position to those needs. Don’t manipulate the reader with emotional statements, as commercials often do. Instead, show how the reader benefits (not how the writer benefits).
Don't Say: Help the National Park Service conduct its Elk Reduction Program so that our national park won't become overrun by the problem.
Do Say: Participating in the program helps the environment and provides excellent game for your dinner table.