Publishing

Three Tips to Get ‘Em to Listen

By Erin Nelsen

Want people to believe what you write? Persuade them.

It’s not complicated, but there’s a lot of competition out there fighting for your audience’s trust and attention. You can’t afford to sound unsure or unqualified.

Here are three techniques guaranteed to get more people listening:

  1. Use clear, strong language. As The Elements of Style so famously declares, “Vigorous writing is concise.” Avoid clutter. Structure sentences with active verbs. Use the right word, not the longest or most “impressive” word. (Often this means the Anglo-Saxon instead of the Latinate: not utilization, but use; not prevaricate, but lie.) Reduce clauses, trim sentences, clarify meaning. You don’t want to bore your reader with inert vocabulary and flaccid structure.
  2. Give evidence. Readers may be taken with your bold style, but they appreciate substance as well. Support your argument with your reasoning or your proof. A reader who can follow your logic is much more likely to agree.
  3. Use your own voice. If what you write sounds forced or uncharacteristic, you lose credibility. Don’t ignore etiquette or grammar, but don’t affect any styles or mannerisms that aren’t natural unless you do so for a reason.

Listen to the responses you get, and try to tailor your message to address the obvious complaints.

The art of persuasion is a powerful one—just try not to use your power for evil. 😉

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