The aim of a persuasive essay is to convince your reader that your opinions and perspectives are correct. This can be done with a combination of emotive language and hard evidence to back up your viewpoint. You have to make the reader believe in the value of your opinion or standpoint, and sometimes to make the reader take action. Fortunately, there are a number of techniques and approaches that can be used to ensure your persuasive essay presents a coherent, logical argument that cannot be denied by the reader.
In terms of structure, persuasive essays are relatively simple. Your arguments or opinions need to be clearly stated, reinforced, and backed with facts and evidence. Your summation, or conclusion should ensure that the reader is very clear about where you stand on the issue, so you need to be consistent throughout.
The Structure of a Persuasive Essay
Your introduction should state the nature of the topic and is often based on a question or highly declarative statement such as “Is vegetarianism a good thing?” or “Gender stereotyping in novels is highly pervasive”. The statement of intent then needs to be followed up with a hook, that draws the readers interest and motivates them to want to read further. Quotations, anecdotes, or strong statistics (e.g., “smokers always get lung cancer”), can be an effective way of reeling in your readers.
Once you have gained your readers’ interest, you need to give some background to the topic as a foundation for your arguments. This ensures you have a context for your arguments and allows you to briefly look at some of the differing perspectives that may exist in the area before presenting your own viewpoint or opinion.
Your statement of opinion should be the concluding part of the introduction, where you clearly write your opinion and an overview of the reasons you hold this perspective, so that the reader understands what you will be covering in your essay.
Following the introduction, the main body of your essay should be separated into separate paragraphs for each point or argument you wish to week. There is an acronym “TEEL” which can guide your structure.
“T” stands for topic sentence, which means indicating what the paragraph will be about, based on the statement of intent already given. The first “E” is for explanation – which means giving further examples of your point of view and why it is valid, followed by the second “E” of evidence, where you deliver supporting facts and examples. In this section, you should include quotations, statistics and reliable, credible references and arguments. The final “L” refers to linking each paragraph to your opening statement as well as connecting it to the next paragraph or point. In this element of the essay, you should ensure you present some personalised analysis or interpretative indications of how you have come to the standpoint you are presenting. Linking is vital to ensure that your essay comes across in a logical and cohesive way.
Once you have written all your points and presented your supporting evidence, your conclusion should be a distillation of all your key points. You should not introduce any new facts or information in this section – it should be used purely as a summation of your arguments and perspectives before returning to your original statement of opinion in the introduction. Strong conclusions can be used to hammer home a clear point or perspective and thus finally persuade the reader that your view is correct.
Persuasive Techniques and Tips
Saying the same things in a range of ways can ensure that the reader clearly understands. It’s like rote learning, the more you say it, the more your reader will understand. A note of caution: repetition should be used carefully so that your essay does not repeat the same points in a dull and boring way, rather you use repetition to reinforce previously stated arguments so that they become strengthened.
Narration or Story-telling
We all remember stories and tales, so use anecdotes or personal information / experiences to illustrate your points. This ensures the points you are making are seen as less abstract and creates a potential with the reader through subconscious connections at a personal level.
Don’t avoid the opposition
You don’t want to appear biased, so ensure you state the opposing perspectives then refute them with clear, strong, and well-presented arguments. This ensures your reader has all the same information as you and is more likely to agree with your opinion because you have illustrated how the dissenting voice is incorrect.
Key persuasive words
To ensure your essay is clearly persuasive, include some of the following words and phrases:
- I am certain that
- It clearly follows that
- Although it may seem
- Considering…. this clearly indicates that ….
- I believe that
- By the same token
Learning to write persuasively can be challenging, but if you follow these tips and use some of the indicated key persuasive words, you will soon have your readers nodding in agreement with you.