Writing a persuasive essay can be one of the most daunting tasks you encounter in high school or college classes, especially if you’re not very confident in your own point of view.
Fortunately, while persuasion requires you to make your argument thoroughly and compellingly, it doesn’t mean that you have to be 100% correct on every count, just that you give yourself the best possible chance of winning your audience over to your side of the argument.
To help you out with this challenge, here are some simple tips to help you write a persuasive essay and win your argument convincingly!
What makes for a good persuasive essay?
Persuasion is about convincing your audience that you are right and they should believe what you believe.
When it comes to essay writing, persuasion takes on an even greater role as argumentative essays are meant to persuade an audience of readers in support of your thesis.
Persuasion can take many forms, but the two most common ways of persuading an audience is through ethical appeals and evidence-based reasoning.
The best persuasive essays will use both types of persuasion to reach a wide range of readers who might have different views on the topic at hand.
Persuasive essays don’t require a certain tone, though it’s usually best to stick to a level, even-keeled, nonaggressive style.
However, sometimes the situation calls for you to break out of the mold. As such, there are two different types of persuasive essays: one that argues for something (pro), and one that argues against something (con).
A pro persuader needs to tell readers why they should accept the thesis and refute contrary views.
It’s also important to make a convincing case by providing evidence that supports the argument.
Con persuaders do just the opposite–they need to provide evidence that refutes or debunks what their opponents say in order to convince readers not to buy into it.
That means providing facts and stats that prove their point.
All other things being equal, however, it’s always better to be on the pro side of an issue because people like winners more than losers.
In contrast, if you’re arguing against something, odds are good that most people will want to disagree with you.
On top of this, they’ll be less likely to take your arguments seriously.
With these disadvantages in mind, it might seem easier at first glance to take the con position on a topic.
But as long as your counterarguments stand up to scrutiny and have logical explanations for where your opponent is wrong or misguided, going pro is almost always the way to go.
Remember, no matter which side you choose to argue for, there are some key points that can help make your essay more compelling.
- First off, give yourself a voice by using strong verbs and concrete nouns whenever possible.
- Secondly, use rhetorical questions that lead readers toward the answer you want them to agree with.
- Thirdly, keep sentences short; anything over 25 words risks losing people who might have been reading up until then.
- Fourthly, and finally, tie up any loose ends by summarizing the main points of your argument.
Once you know how to make an argument work in your favor, you can use a variety of techniques to strengthen your writing further.
One way to create a sense of urgency is through empathy–show your audience how strongly you feel about the issue.
They may share those feelings, but if they don’t then at least they’ll understand where you’re coming from, making it more likely they’ll listen to what you have to say next.
Another technique is comparison and analogy–people respond well when others are put in their shoes or when abstract ideas are made more tangible by relating them to another idea. Be sure to clarify similarities while noting differences so that readers get both the similarities and differences across clearly.
Finally, consider incorporating quotes from experts who support your view (or critique someone else’s) into your writing so that there’s greater weight behind the statement. If you’ve done your homework and have the proof to back it up, the final step is to write a killer introduction.
Persuading others through persuasive essays requires careful planning of three aspects: how to frame your argument, how to choose a suitable tone for the paper, and how best to use evidence or supporting statements from other sources.
1) How to Frame an argument
This is the most important aspect of crafting a persuasive piece of work because it will determine whether your paper is successful or not.
A poor framing of an argument might mean the rest of the essay’s construction may not make sense and ultimately undermine any attempts at persuading readers.
It’s critical to consider these questions before moving forward with your work: Who are you arguing with? What do they think about this issue? And why do they think this way? For example, when trying to convince someone of something using ethical appeals, you would need to understand their values and beliefs so that you can tailor your arguments accordingly.
On the other hand, if instead, you were trying to persuade someone based on evidence-based reasoning, then a strong understanding of facts and statistics would be necessary so that the opposing party cannot dispute your claims.
If we’re going to be strategic in how we construct our arguments (and write persuasive essays), we need to know where our opponent stands on this matter.
Effective framing of persuasive arguments also means taking into account where your reader stands on the issue.
They’ll need to buy into what you’re saying in order to feel persuaded by your argument. In order to avoid confusing them with unfamiliar jargon, try summarizing each point you want to discuss beforehand so that you don’t go off on tangents during the body of your essay and risk losing their attention along the way.
Lastly, you need to decide which type of persuasion best suits your needs. Is the topic one on which people could come to different conclusions based on differing values and beliefs? In that case, you’ll need to appeal to people’s morals through ethical discourse. Are there plenty of numbers available to back up your argument? Then use statistical data as well as anecdotes to drive home your points.
2) Tone Choice
You need to decide early on whether you want a neutral tone throughout your paper or if it would be better suited for emotional appeals.
The choice of tone depends largely on your goal.
For instance, if you’re crafting a piece to sway opinion against discrimination, it might be more effective to approach the argument emotionally.
Think of Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech – he didn’t spend much time discussing the facts behind his claims; rather he focused more on giving voice to those who had none. This was a powerful, persuasive argument because it appealed to the emotions of listeners and made them feel like they mattered.
On the other hand, for an argument on economic reform, a neutral tone might be better suited as it does not provide any fodder for critics to argue that you are playing on people’s emotions. Regardless of the tone you choose, it’s always important to show empathy for your opponents and respect their opinions.
This doesn’t mean that you need to completely abandon your own position, but it does mean that you should acknowledge they value of theirs as well. Empathy and respect will allow you to get your point across without upsetting the other person.
This will help you to win the argument.
3) Evidence or Supporting Statements
The main idea of this section is that it’s not enough to just have a good argument.
You need to back it up with solid evidence so that your audience has no reason to disagree with you. You might be tempted to skip this step because it’s a lot of work, but it will pay off in the end.
You need to back it up with solid evidence so that your audience has no reason to disagree with you. You might be tempted to skip this step because it’s a lot of work, but it will pay off in the end. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is not being able to answer any of their opponent’s arguments.
When you’re crafting your persuasive essay, be sure to devote ample time to answer all possible counterpoints so that they’re rendered irrelevant.
To support your arguments, including both factual and anecdotal evidence from a variety of sources. This will add credibility to your claim and give your argument more weight. Be sure to only use reputable sources as these will carry more weight than ones that lack a strong reputation.
Supporting statements can come in many forms including testimonials, statistics, case studies, research studies, and expert opinions. These statements could also be quotes from experts in the field or examples of how current policies have failed to produce desired results.
If you don’t know where to find supporting statements, try looking at articles written by journalists and academics alike for credible information. It may take some time to gather sufficient evidence for your argument, but this is necessary for it to be successful.
It’s okay if you don’t have everything at the beginning of your writing process-you can easily go back later and add more material.
How to Write a Persuasive Essay in Five Steps
Writing an essay is not the same as writing an article or even a paragraph.
When you write an essay, your goal is to convince your reader of a certain point of view, whether it’s related to the economy or personal growth, or any other relevant topic.
To do this well, you must present reasons and evidence that support your argument and make it clear why your reader should agree with you instead of anyone else making opposing arguments.
First Step – Identify the Audience
The first step of a persuasive essay is to identify your audience. If you can’t identify who you are writing to, how do you know what they want? Are they reading an essay for the sole purpose of being entertained, or do they want more information?
Make sure that you know the age and education level of your readership before writing.
It’s also important to identify whether you’re persuading them through logic or emotions.
Most importantly, figure out what you want your reader to do once they’ve read your essay (e.g., buy something).
Next, consider what kind of tone you want to use in order to convey your message.
Lastly, choose which type of persuasion technique will work best for your topic–logical arguments or emotional appeals–then apply it!
For instance, if you want people to agree with your opinion about a social issue because they feel passionate about it, then use emotional appeals.
However, if you are trying to make logical sense of your idea by explaining all the facts and background information related to it, then make logical arguments.
The audience should not be so specific as to be a single person, but rather groups of people that share similar characteristics.
When deciding on the tone of your essay, ask yourself what would I like my reader to think or feel after reading this piece.
Logical arguments usually appeal to a person’s intellect while emotional appeals are most often used when dealing with issues such as religion, political views, abortion rights, and animal rights.
Some effective ways to present an argument include listing reasons and examples, pointing out flaws in other people’s opinions, discussing future consequences of one choice over another, and drawing from personal experience or statistics/data.
One way to get others on your side is by making connections between different ideas that might seem unrelated at first glance. You could start with the assumption that everyone agrees with you on some basic principle and build off of that foundation until they see why your position is correct.
Another strategy is to turn the opposition’s argument against itself by showing how even their strongest point against your point still supports it.
Listing advantages and disadvantages is a good way to offer two perspectives without committing to either one while pretending that both sides have equal merit.
Asking questions of the reader gets them thinking, too.
Second Step – Prepare the Persuasive Essay Introduction
A persuasive essay introduction is the most important part of your essay. It is your opportunity to grab your reader’s attention and to make them want to read what you have to say.
To write a good persuasive essay, you need an introductory paragraph that contains two things: first, it needs a catchy opening sentence or two; and second, it needs a thesis statement.
In other words, the intro should tell readers why they should care about this topic and what exactly you are going to talk about in this paper.
If you’re writing a persuasive essay on whether or not we should ban plastic bags in grocery stores, for example, your intro might look like this:
Over 500 billion plastic bags are used each year worldwide. That’s almost one million per minute! They take up space in landfills, float out into our oceans and sometimes end up as litter on the ground. There is now evidence linking these bags to serious health problems in both humans and animals alike. Scientists at Plymouth University recently released new findings showing that plastics can release harmful chemicals into food which could increase cancer risks by 40%. They also found that marine life such as turtles and fish confuse these plastics with jellyfish, which can lead to their deaths because they try to eat them. The average person consumes 11 pounds of microplastics every single day—that’s equivalent to five credit cards worth! What does all of this mean? Plastic bag usage is linked to poor human health, and some scientists believe that there is enough evidence to show that if nothing changes soon then we will see more people dying from preventable cancers. Meanwhile, billions of sea creatures are being killed off due to the toxic chemicals in these bags when they break down. And while many people may think that just recycling will solve this problem (in addition to taking reusable cloth bags), most Americans don’t recycle even when they know it exists and only 27% of plastic waste actually ends up getting recycled annually! We need better solutions than just recycling and reusing those same old products again–this time responsibly–if we ever hope to reduce pollution levels, save endangered wildlife populations and stop cancer rates from climbing any higher.
This example introduction would work well in a persuasive essay, but you can tailor your intro to the subject matter of your essay.
Remember that you want to get right to the point and be concise in your explanation of why the reader should care.
For example, if you were writing an essay on how humans create too much trash, instead of citing all sorts of statistics in your introduction and delving into environmental issues right away, you might start with something like You’ll never be able to travel through any city without noticing trash everywhere.
You would then follow this sentence up with something along the lines of
We generate so much garbage that no matter how hard we try, there will always be mountains of trash piling up somewhere. Not to mention, all of the plastics we use are choking up our waterways and killing tons of different species. The trash doesn’t disappear after it’s thrown away either: tons of trash is still sitting in landfills where it will stay forever unless we come up with a better solution. Of course, the best way to fix this problem is to cut back on all the excess stuff we buy and produce. But until that happens, you can help minimize your personal contribution by reducing your own household garbage output.
Persuasive essay thesis statement
A persuasive essay introduction is not complete without a thesis statement.
This is the main point that you want to convey to your reader. It is usually found at the end of your introduction, and it should include a general idea of what your essay will be about.
A simple way to think of a thesis statement is as the underlying question of your paper.
If you were writing a paper on whether or not people should be allowed to drink while they’re pregnant, your main question might read:
Should women who are pregnant consume alcohol? This question could then lead to a thesis statement such as:
Many people believe that pregnant women should abstain from drinking altogether because there is evidence suggesting prenatal exposure to alcohol may lead to fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
Remember a good thesis statement includes a general idea of what your paper is about, followed by a short answer.
Once you have your thesis statement, you can move on to the body paragraphs.
Third Step – Create a Persuasive Essay Outline
An outline is a blueprint for the essay. You can write an outline in two ways – structured or unstructured.
Structured outlines are typically used by academic writers, while unstructured outlines are more suitable for creative writing projects.
A structured outline consists of three parts; Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. The introduction provides an overview of the topic and introduces your opinion as well as supporting evidence to prove it.
The body consists of paragraphs that further develop your argument with additional facts and examples to back up your opinions.
The conclusion sums up all points made previously in the essay and reemphasizes why they are important to your reader. It should include a strong call to action that leaves the reader feeling motivated and compelled to take action.
With this information in mind, here is an example of a typical persuasive essay outline :
- Thesis statement
- Body Paragraph 1 (Supportive Evidence)
- Body Paragraph 2 (Supportive Evidence)
- Body Paragraph 3 (Summary of Supportive Evidence)
- Counter Argument (optional)
- Personal Connection (optional)
- Call to Action
It is important to note that some persuasive essay outline formats may differ slightly.
If a framework doesn’t work for you, feel free to adjust it so it does. After all, you know your assignment best!
There is no right or wrong way to make an outline, but there are plenty of bad ones.
To make sure your outline works, ask yourself these questions: Is the thesis statement clear? Do I have at least 3 main reasons why my opinion is valid? Have I included other perspectives in my counterargument? Do I have any personal connections that could help me persuade my reader?
Does my conclusion have a clear call to action? Does my essay follow a logical structure?
Do I have any spelling errors or grammatical mistakes that need correcting before moving on to the next step?
If you answered yes to all of those questions, then congratulations! You’ve successfully created an organized and effective persuasive essay outline.
Fourth Step – Create Body Paragraphs
There are many ways to go about structuring a body paragraph depending on the topic of your paper.
Oftentimes, especially when it comes to persuasive essays, writers like to provide proof for their claims using evidence from scholarly articles and research studies.
To start off each body paragraph, state your main claim followed by some supporting information or anecdotal stories that support that claim.
That way readers know where you stand before reading more of your argument; this also gives them some context for understanding what they’re reading.
As you continue to add points, be sure to tie them together and reference your thesis statement.
This is called ‘backtracking’ in the academic world. One great way to do this is to make a list of points that support your thesis statement and then organize those points according to the theme. It’s important not to overcomplicate things: it’s better to keep things straightforward than risk confusing your reader.
A good rule of thumb is that if you find yourself having trouble figuring out how one point connects with another, chances are the connection isn’t strong enough and you should consider cutting it.
For example, let’s say I’m writing a paper on why I believe children should wear seat belts.
I could write my first point by stating
Many countries mandate wearing seat belts but I would need to come up with a second point that explains why this matters. In other words, why do we care if kids wear seat belts? Well, this means that kids can be safer during car accidents since their necks won’t snap back and hit their heads. This in turn means less head trauma for kids–something most parents would be happy about.
The thing is, you need a really compelling reason to make someone stop doing something–otherwise, they’ll just keep doing it no matter what you say.
So even though many countries mandate children use seat belts, convincing others that they should is much easier when you show how harmful it can be if they don’t use them. Persuasive essay body paragraphs should be structured in a way that is easy to understand.
Also, when you are trying to convince someone of your stance, be sure that you give a lot of specific details, so they know what they’re agreeing to.
Don’t overwhelm your reader by providing too much information though. Make sure the examples you give are relatable and easy to relate to so that the person reading understands your arguments better.
Finally, after finishing all of the body paragraphs for your essay, you should wrap everything up with a conclusion paragraph summarizing all of the arguments made in the paper.
Fifth Step – Write The Concluding Paragraph
The persuasive essay conclusion paragraph is just as important as the introduction.
At this point, you want to wrap up your arguments in a way that will leave your readers satisfied and interested in learning more.
You may also want to offer a call to action or ask them to take a survey or donate money to your cause at the end of your argumentative essay.
Remember to summarize all the points you made in order and reiterate your major points from earlier.
For example, if one of the main points was the dangers posed by GMOs, be sure to reference that again here before concluding with a final statement about how we can protect ourselves from GMOs through our choices.
A successful conclusion should sound like it’s tying everything together for the reader, but without repeating too much information that’s already been given. The goal is to simply make an impactful last impression on your audience so they remember what you’ve said throughout the whole essay and are left feeling fulfilled with their decision.
Here are more tips on writing an effective persuasive essay conclusion :
- Remember to retaliate your thesis statement.
- Avoid introducing new information in the concluding paragraph.
- Remind the reader of your main message.
- Make a request or otherwise encourage the reader to do something related to the topic of your paper (for example, change their diet).
- Be sure to address any unanswered questions. If there were any doubts raised while reading your essay, resolve them now
- Summarize any data included within the body of your paper that the reader might not have read yet.
- End with a call for action–this is where you can really drive home your argumentative stance! Just be mindful not to get too bossy because people might disagree with what you’re saying and start disagreeing back!
Editing and proofreading are the final steps before publishing/ submitting.
Editing is all about checking your work for errors.
Remember to fix any grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and capitalization issues that need attention.
Take time to review what you’ve written and correct any mistakes so readers will have a clear understanding of what you want them to think or do when they read your paper.
Proofread carefully to catch anything you may have missed. You can ask a friend or family member to proofread your essay if you feel like something might be missing. If they know the subject matter well, they can help make sure that there aren’t any inconsistencies in their knowledge of it.
For example, if I were writing an essay about abortion, I would ask someone who opposes abortion because they would be able to see inconsistencies in my arguments if I tried to say something pro-choice while being opposed to abortion myself. In some cases, this person could even give me new ideas and suggestions that I hadn’t thought of yet.
Having someone else edit your paper makes it better quality as long as you trust them enough to give constructive feedback without altering the meaning behind your words too much. However, if you don’t know anyone personally who has time to proofread your essay then don’t worry!
There are plenty of websites out there where you can find essay editors for hire and pay them by the page.
All you have to do is send them your assignment and they’ll start working on it.
They typically give you two revisions which should be more than enough to meet your needs. Some of these editors charge by the hour and others charge per word, but either way, they’re usually affordable and worth every penny!
Writing a Persuasive Essay Final Remarks
Persuasive essay writing is a valuable skill. You will need it in your future career to sell your ideas or convince others that you are right.
However, persuasive essays can be tricky and difficult to write.
The tips provided here may not cover everything, but they should give you an idea of how to start the process of writing your own persuasive essay. Remember that there is no one way to write a persuasive essay, so feel free to experiment with different techniques.
Just remember to follow all of the tips discussed in this post, from creating an outline to developing a point-by-point argument.
It is also important to focus on being concise while still being informative.
When writing your essay, think about who you are trying to persuade and why they might disagree with your position (either as part of a group discussion or as individuals).
Finally, always consider what evidence would help support your argument and keep it simple yet powerful.