Persuasion Essay AND ARGUMENT — what’s the difference?
Okay, so you’ve been asked to write to persuade. In fact, you’ll be creating two very similar styles of writing. When you set out to persuade someone, you want them to accept your opinion on an issue: you want to change that person’s mind to your way of thinking. This does not mean you should ignore your opponent’s views — far from it. That’s a sure fire way to ‘put their back up’ if ever there was one! You’re looking only for success and high marks. When writing to argue, you’re expected to take account of opposing views and find ways to counter and overcome these, mostly through the use of well-reasoned points.
This is because when you are asked to argue, you need to show you have recognises that other equally valid views exist on the subject. Your reader or listener needs to feel «warm» towards you — to be brought to feel that you are worth listening to — worthy of their time. In your opening paragraph explain this. One way to bring your reader to start agreeing with you, right from the outset, is to «forge common ground».
Persuasion Essay means finding a way to show that both you and your opponent have a similar goal. This reduces the differences between the two of you to something much more manageable and achievable. There’s much more on this later. An anecdote is a brief and fascinating story from life, often from personal experience. Its purpose is to create a powerful and emotional illustration of why your view is the right view to hold. The art of argument and persuasion is a very ancient art indeed. We all share certain common ideas about what is right, just or fair.
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By demonstrating your own, or appealing your opponent’s, sense of what is right and fair, you can create quite a powerful persuasive device. It is said that when emotion comes in through the door, reason leaves via the window, thus when trying to persuade, using emotional pleas need great care. Can we genuinely call ourselves human beings when we allow this kind of thing to continue unabated. Just imagine how difficult it would be to persuade a stranger! Always ‘get to know’ your reader by working out what brought them to think the way they do. Showing a close awareness of your audience is a key aspect of the mark scheme for this particular question in the exam.
Be generous ‘What’s in it for me? What can you offer your readers to help them change their mind? Be interesting especially as you open and close your writing aim for maximum interest! Don’t be shy — be different! It gains attention and it gains marks!
Be personal Persuasion works best when you know your audience well so consider your reader, think about what their current views are and what has brought them to think that way — think about addressing them as a ‘friend using the pronoun ‘You’. Be concerned and show that you share your reader’s concerns — even if your view is different. Be reasonable To change a person’s mind, you need to recognise that they feel they hold a reasonable view already. You must use reason in return and show how much more reasonable your own position is. So find ways of convincing your readers that you are a sound individual with your feet firmly on the ground. Sound sincere and authentic — even earnest and passionate if it is appropriate to the cause.
So the evidence you choose to support your case will need to be made up to suit the question. Read your question with care until you are absolutely absorbed into the scenario it requires: try to become the person that holds this viewpoint. Only then will you be at your most convincing. But be realistic: your purpose is to change minds and sometimes a compromise is the most sensible next step in the process. Minds rarely change quickly and easily: take this into account when working out your objectives — maybe a meeting to discuss the issue is a sensible objective to hold?
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