Communicating Persuasive Messages

The Elements of Persuasion

A persuasive message is a balance of Logic, Evidence and Emotion. A successful communicator must use all 3 when trying to persuade his or her audience.

- Logic
- Emotion
- Evidence/Examples

The two important things to ensure is Balance and Consistency. You must ensure you have all 3 Logic, Emotion and Evidence, and balance it based on what you audience prefers. If your audience is very logical, they will prefer more logic, but still have a little evidence and emotion. 

You also should be consistent. The Logic, Evidence and Emotion should be related to each other and help each other. If you Logic and Evidence is about something sad or angry, then your emotion should also be that way. 

1. Exact purpose. What exactly do you want to persuade your audience?

  • You can persuade them of a larger goal, rather than to just fulfill your immediate need. Example: Instead of "Buy my health product", persuade "We must lead healthy lives"
  • Must be direct. Asking directly can be uncomfortable, but not asking leads to never receiving. At some point in your communication,you must clearly and directly state what you want. Never simply assume your audience understands.
  • To realize your limitations and correct them. If you are not direct, you don't really understand what you are asking of your audience and thus may be asking them too much. Example: If you are in real-estate and are sending a letter to someone to sell them a building. You can't ask someone to buy a 10 million dollar building through just one letter, the purpose of the letter is not to get them to buy the building, but to get them interested enough to meet with you.

2. Knowing your Audience is very important for persuasive messages. In addition to the usual questions we ask ourselves as part of Audience Analysis, we should also ask

  • What facts and examples will influence them more?
  • What is the right balance of logic and emotion?
  • What values and beliefs do they share with you?

3. Direct vs. Indirect Approach

  • direct approach
    • stronger, clearer
    • better for smaller change
    • usually from a position of authority
    • can sometimes be rude
  • indirect approach
    • diplomatic, polite
    • better for larger change
    • heavily influenced by cultural context, position of authority
    • can sometimes be weak and confusing


1. A four step process : AIDA

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

- get reader's attention
- what are the benefits? start with a stimulating question, a shocking fact, an amazing offer.
- short, simple, provocative.
1. The strongest benefit
2. Common ground with the audience
3. Piece of real news
4. Appeal to emotions or values
5. The promise of Savings
6. A solution to a problem

- appeal to interest - further explain benefits, balance logical and emotional appeal, use examples

- show how you can help your audience, connect the solution to the problem, give more specific information.
- anticipate objections

- encourage your audience to take action, make it clear and easy for them
- call this number? email? visit website? discount for first 100?

General Tips
1. Use Simple Language - don't want to confuse audience. Also, audience will be critical, so don't try to manipulate them.
2. Support Message with facts - Examples, statistics, research reports, all add to your credibility. Must name your sources.
3. Establish Common ground - what do you and your audience have in common?
4. Be objective - helps you be fair and logical.
5. Display your good intentions - be sincere and honest. Helps build trust