Whether it’s a business proposal or a persuasive paper, writing to persuade can be a difficult undertaking. However, it is possible with a little bit of training and a whole lot of understanding about what it takes to truly “sell” a message – or yourself. Here are some easy ways to encourage readers to see things your way:
Be honest. When you are writing with a specific goal in mind, it’s important to make sure that you are presenting your facts both accurately and logically. Honesty is the best policy in sales or persuasive writing, so don’t deviate from the truth. Make it your policy to double-check your content – and when possible, to cite exactly where you found it.
Be engaging. The opening line of a novel tends to garner a lot of attention; specifically, readers believe that it sets the tone for the entire piece. (Take a look at the 100 best opening lines here.) In your business writing – whether you’re working on an opening paragraph or an executive summary – remember that first impressions are equally important. Be clear and concise so you can hook a reader’s attention and hold it through the end.
Be focused. Chances are that your readers will not be interested in your background in whaling, or your uncanny ability to snowboard blindfolded. Although you may want to share certain information in a pitch, proposal, or presentation, make sure that it is relevant to the topic at hand, and that it is clearly highlights specific benefits for your readers. Whenever possible, include information and statistics that helps them to see just how much their business can benefit from your idea.
Proofread. Every sentence is important when you are writing to convince. Don’t allow a few silly grammatical and spelling errors to cloud the reader’s ability to focus on your topic. According to a recent study from Grammarly:
- Professionals with fewer grammar errors in their Linkedin profiles achieve higher positions. Those who failed to progress to a director-level position within the first 10 years of their careers made 2.5 times as many grammar mistakes as their director-level colleagues.
- Fewer grammar errors correlate with more promotions. Professionals with one to four promotions over their 10-year careers made 45 percent more grammar errors than those with six to nine promotions in the same time frame.
Good grammar is good business, and your ability to write may indicate to potential employers and employers, alike, your level of attention to detail, your critical thinking skills, and your intellectual aptitude.
Talk money – but not too much. Professionals read proposals and reports because they want to understand how to improve their business, and improvement almost always involves money. Don’t shy away from including monetary values in your business proposals or other writing – if they make sense. However, do not put too much focus on cost, as you want to establish value beyond just a number.
Set reasonable expectations. Providing a well-thought-out timeline detailing when specific tasks will be delivered is often expected in business. It is better to deliver a project early than to miss a deadline, so make sure that your timeline is an accurate, achievable representation of the work you plan to do. Keep in mind that it is possible to make an idea or product attractive to someone without being the cheapest, fastest or easiest option.
If you are not proposing work, and merely want to convince a reader to come around to your point of view, make sure that you are equally logical in your presentation. Outline your ideas in sequential order so that readers may take away a clear picture of what you are suggesting.
Writing is a skill that involves attention to detail, technical knowledge, and finesse. Persuasive writing requires each of these skills along with a strong sense of salesmanship. What makes a good salesperson? Among other things, a belief in what you are selling. So believe in yourself; believe in your writing.