How to Convince Anybody with Your Persuasive Essay

Use your personal opinion and our persuasive essay writing guide to adjust your reader’s point of view.

Andrew Newman
Updated on

Many conspiracy theories such as The Mooning Landing Hoax, the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, or aliens in Area 51 circulate the net every day. Although these videos are wacky and fun to watch, they also turn out to be somewhat convincing. You believe these videos because the creators use remarkable tactics to mess with the evidence and convince you that their absurd ideas are rational. To cut a long story short, this is the goal of persuasive writing.

This article consists of guidelines, steps, and tips on how to write a persuasive essay. We will discuss topics and compose an outline and ideas for convincing readers.

What is a Persuasive Writing?

Early on in schools, students are taught the most common writing technique, which is persuasive writing. Persuasive writing aims for students to take a clear stance on a particular subject or use convincing claims to persuade the audience to agree with the author’s position. This is an entertaining and exciting type of writing that aims to create a discussion on a specific matter.

What is a persuasive essay? A  persuasive essay is an academic writing task assigned to students at schools, colleges, and universities. The primary aim is to convince readers using solid facts and evidence into accepting a particular perspective.

Vital requirements when composing a persuasive essay are: conducting thorough research on the given matter, assessing it, and taking a solid argumentative position. Afterward, using logical arguments and compelling facts, a student is supposed to dismiss biases and guarantee readers that there are no correct viewpoints than the author’s.

Why is Persuasive Writing Important?

Persuasive writing comes in handy in ensuring that students are engaged and more involved in their school work. In addition, students develop various vital skills when writing this type of assignment, such as research, critical thinking, the ability to form evidence-based conclusions, etc.

Students are able to understand that through persuasive writing, they can influence or change another person’s thoughts or ideas, and this assists them to comprehend the persuasive nature of the marketing they are exposed to through the television, the internet, or other media.

Finally, persuasive writing could pave the way to someone’s success in their career. For instance, when people pitch ideas to big companies, they persuade them to accept or agree with what they present, and without persuasive skills, not many will agree with your ideas.

Argumentative vs. Persuasive Essay 

Confusion arises where students think that these two types of writing are the same. Usually, a persuasive essay is known as an argumentative essay. Nonetheless, there is a difference between argumentative and persuasive writing techniques.

It is worth noting that both writing approaches have a similar goal which is to persuade readers to accept or agree with something using logic and reasoning. However, apart from straight facts, persuasive papers depend on emotions. While writing a persuasive essay, you work with compelling claims, but also to make the reader feel your well-defined perspective, you need to deal with emotions.

Persuasive Essay Format

The basic requirements for a persuasive paper are as follows:

  • Fonts: Times New Roman or other easy-to-read fonts like Georgia or Arial.
  • Font Size: 16pt for the headline(s) and 12pt for the rest of the text.
  • Alignment: Justified
  • Spacing: double, or in some cases 1.5
  • Word count: as a rule, from 500 to 2000 words- keenly check your professor’s guidelines to learn what word count applies to you.

The List of Topics and How to Pick One 

When brainstorming about persuasive essay ideas, you should select a topic with contrasting perspectives. Unless you are writing a dissertation, avoid topic ideas covering broad issues such as gun control or abortion rights that can result in lengthy discussions.

Suppose you want to argue in support of space exploration. This is a widely explored contemporary subject that could create a broad basis of discussion, which means that it might be a bit challenging to create a structure where each body paragraph explores a distinct planet. To make it easier, you can narrow it down to arguing in favor of building a base on the moon? In this case, you can persuade the audience of the benefits of creating a moon base and provide them with a small idea of what can be achieved from space exploration on a larger scale.

Therefore, you have convinced your audience on a small topic linked to a much broader one. This will leave them inspired with plenty of thoughts to feast on, allowing them to dive further into the world space.

Remember This When Picking a Topic

All persuasive essays are about perspective/opinion. Finding good topics which you are well-conversant with or topics you can support or oppose is vital. The most incredible persuasive essays written focus on real-life circumstances and direct the audience towards social problems most people have ignored. For instance, Martin Luther King Jr.’s A letter from Birmingham Jail or Hillary Clinton’s Women’s Rights are Human Rights.

Topics for High School

We have prepared a simple list of persuasive essay topics for high school. Maybe you have already debated on some of these with your classmates: 

  • Standardized testing should be eliminated
  • Explain why advertisements should be banned from social media
  • Eating meat should be banned within the next five years due to the growing concern over the environment.
  • Historically, business people in positions of power are a bad idea.
  • The Velvet Underground is the most significant and influential American rock band of all time.
  • Advertisements directed to children should be restricted.

Topics for College

Persuasive essay topics for college can be a little challenging. As a college student, the topics that take heed of events of contemporary life, discussing moral, ethical, technological, and environmental issues, are the best to write about. Students have the opportunity to use their writing skills to advocate for change and be the voice to the voiceless. It is vital to choose controversial persuasive essay topics because they challenge the writer to engage in relevant intellectual issues. Below are some examples:

  • Beauty contests should not be encouraged.
  • Federal courtrooms must have live cameras that televise all trials.
  • Create a prisoner rehabilitation system using music and art.
  • Arguing in favor of Net Neutrality.
  • Media marketed for teenagers advertise morally and ethically wrong messages.
  • With the amount of information available online, college education should be made significantly cheaper.
  • Why should modern students study business-related disciplines?
  • Do violent video games make you violent in real life?

Persuasive Essay Outline 

To write an incredible persuasive essay, you need to compose an outline. An outline simplifies the writing process because it assists a reader in getting their thoughts well-organized.

Just like other essay structures, the persuasive essay structure consists of three primary elements: an introduction, body, and conclusion. Every element has its role in the paper. Your instructor will provide some guidelines for you to follow, such as the citation style, which could be either APA or MLA style.

Below is a brief note on what each part of this paper consists of and what purpose each part has:

  1. Intro: Includes a hook, background information, and a thesis statement. It should be brief, clear, and engaging. The primary purpose of the introductory paragraph is to specify your topic and standpoint, grab the reader’s attention and give a preview of the topic’s background.
  2. Main body: Comprises of several paragraphs. Each paragraph concentrates on a distinct idea with supporting evidence. The sections should contain logical, captivating, and valid arguments. Usually, most essays follow the 3 to 5 body paragraph structure. To strengthen the persuasive effect of your text, you can state the opposing opinion and provide counterarguments in the final body paragraph of your paper.
  3. Conclusion: contains a brief overview of the primary ideas, a restatement of the thesis, and additional information to leave readers with something to think about. To enhance the convincing effect of your paper, it should be clear, logical, and powerful.

Below is a sample topic to give you a better idea of how a persuasive essay should be composed.

“ Are Women Weaker Than Men Today.”

  1. Introduction
  • Hook: “ In the 21st century, women are more than housewives.”
  • Background Info: “ For ages, the debates on whether women are weaker or stronger than men have not faded.”
  • Thesis: “ The era of male dominance has to come to an end. Today women can do and be pretty much everything men can.”
  1. Main Body 
  • Argument # 1: The strength of a woman from a family perspective + supporting facts, stats, and evidence.
  • Argument # 2: The strength from a work perspective + supporting facts, stats, and evidence.
  • Argument # 3: The strength from a society perspective + supporting facts, stats, and evidence.
  1. Conclusion
  • Summary of all arguments
  • Thesis statement: “Women were perceived as a weaker sex for centuries. However, today looking, at modern examples, we can mark this statement as false.”
  • Food for thought: “Over the past decades, women from all over the world have proven that they can do anything a man can do and succeed. Their success is the best indicator of their strength. And, even though there is nothing else to prove, women are still seeking to take a more active role in modern society.”

How to Use Arguments in Persuasive Essays

To begin and write a persuasive essay effectively, you need to first comprehend the essential principles of this type of writing. Your primary objective is to make readers accept or agree with something. Supporting your ideas with credible, reasonable, and verifiable arguments is the only way you can achieve your goal. Aside from that, you will have to draw to human emotions and logic. The mixture of logical and emotional elements in your writing is what makes it persuasive.

That said, let’s get back to the basic elements of persuasive writing. According to Aristotle, there are three elements of rhetoric that you should always have at the tips of your hands when writing persuasive papers.

  • Ethos: This rhetorical device assists readers in determining the author’s credibility. This means that readers will trust your ideas because they find you as a credible author. In case you lack ethos ( implies not proven as a professional or expert in a particular field), you can use ideas/ claims stated by credible individuals and organizations. Using ethos from credible personas will assist your arguments in sounding more solid.

Example:

The National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America has conducted a study that has shown that women are able to survive for longer than men under extreme conditions such as epidemics, famines, enslavement, etc.

  • Pathos: Authors use this strategy to evoke their reader’s emotions, such as anger, happiness, nostalgia, fear, and compassion, etc. In this case, it is essential to know your readers’ values, morals, and beliefs because when you concentrate on them, you can evoke the said emotions.

Example:

This is a man’s world, but where would we all be without a woman? A woman is a person that gives birth to us, a person who guides each of us through this world, and a person who inspires and motivates us. How can such a person be called weak?

  • Logos: This is a rhetoric device that appeals to reasoning. Logos mean using data, statistics, facts, and indisputable evidence to persuade readers to accept your opinion.

Example:

Numerous studies have confirmed that women are mentally stronger than men in numerous domains of cognition.

How to Shape a Powerful Persuasive Argument 

Below are a few essential tips to assist you to produce compelling arguments for your paper:

  • Research. You can thoroughly research the given topic using credible sources, expert opinions, and facts. This is because you have to be well-informed about the selected topic to form solid and convincing points.
  • Ensure that there are two sides to your topic. Your thesis needs to have two sides- the one you support and the one you oppose. It is impossible to compose a good persuasive argument if the selected topic is not arguable.
  • Comprehend conflicting opinions. To make powerful arguments in this case, you should comprehend the opposite standpoint and find solid counterarguments to disprove it.
  • Use evidence. Lastly, remember that a persuasive argument will look incomplete and invalid if you don’t have sufficient and compelling evidence to back it.

How to Support your argument 

Now that you already know how to form a solid argument, here are various ways to back it:

  1. Statistics-  Defending your ideas with all sorts of statistics is a great idea. Generally, statistics look persuading. Nonetheless, ensure only to give relevant stats from trustworthy sources.

Example: 

Today women represent 18% of the officer corps and about 16% of the enlisted military forces in the US, which once more reinforces that women have the ability to do anything men can.

  1. Facts- Another powerful means of persuasion is using proven facts.

Example:

According to studies, when it comes to longevity, women are likely to survive illness and cope with trauma.

  1. Examples- You can also provide examples from real-life situations such as personal experiences, literature, or history. These examples can assist enhance the influence of your persuasive paper and provide good support for your arguments.

Example:

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, is a true, real-life example of a woman’s strength. Merkel had the strength to enter the world of politics and compete against men. She has proven to the entire world that a woman can be a good politician. It is not without reason that she has held the first spot in Forbes’ list of the most powerful women in the world for nine years in a row.

  1. Quotes- Directly quoting from the words of credible and trusted people is another way to support your ideas.

Example: 

“ To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength, brute the strength meant, then indeed, a woman is less brute than man. If by strength, moral power is meant, then the woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with the woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?”- Mahatma Gandhi.

How to Write a Persuasive Essay: Step-by-Step 

When students are assigned to write a persuasive paper, they make the mistake of heading straight to writing the essay despite some preparational steps that should not be disregarded.

Below is a complete step-by-step guide that will assist you in traversing through the entire process:

Take a stance

First and foremost, you need to identify a distinct standpoint. After weighing both sides, you should determine which side to back up based on what is more appealing to you and your personal beliefs. In addition, remember to do some research to ascertain that you will have adequate evidence to support your ideas.

Research

After you have identified your standpoint, you need to look for more in-depth information about the topic. To shape clear arguments, you should be well-informed on the matter.

One of the most crucial elements when conducting research is the sources you pick. The sources should be credible and valid. Also, ensure that you highlight the most interesting facts, statistics, and quotes. Afterward, they will help support your claims.

Evaluate and Prioritize Evidence

As you conduct your research, you will discover a wide variety of evidence. Sadly, it is impossible to fit all the information in a single paper. This is where you analyze the collected proof and determine the most compelling facts that will add the greatest value to your essay.

Compose an Outline 

Utilize the tips and examples stated earlier to create a well-detailed and structured outline. An outline will assist you in covering the essential details and ensure that you won’t get lost in the writing process.

Write Your First Draft

Once you have composed an outline, you can now begin writing the actual essay. Before starting your paper, it is a great idea to check out a few good persuasive writing examples to know how yours should look like. Afterward, you can start working on it.

Refer to your outline while writing. It will assist you in keeping all ideas well organized and logical.

Proofread and Edit Your Paper

Lastly, the final steps to a top-notch paper are proofreading and editing. When you complete writing your essay, take some time off to restore your energy. A  fresh mind is vital for proofreading.

Remember that proofreading and editing are not just about identifying and correcting grammar errors. This is where you detect all areas that require improvements and polish them.

Tips for Persuasive Writing

Below are several writing tips for writing a flawless persuasive essay:

  1. Despite using fancy vocabulary, ensure that your work makes sense. It is a great idea to use various vocabularies in your essay but don’t count on that for a better grade. Find your style and write comprehensively and logically.
  2. To make your paper smooth and easy to read, add logical transitions between different parts of your essay.
  3. Utilize the various persuasion techniques. In this article, we mentioned the essential elements of persuasive writing. That should not stop you from searching for more of them from different mediums.
  4. Thoroughly check your work! Proofreading is essential in making your work look perfect. You should check readability, logic, style, coherency, tone, grammar, and punctuation in your assignment. Ensure that everything flows in synchronization with the thesis. Find a second or third perspective on your work by giving your essay to friends or family for them to read.
  5. Ask yourself the right questions? Once you have written and proofread your work, take some time to ask the following questions:
  • Does my work look convincing?
  • Did I meet my instructor’s requirements?
  • Did I answer the primary question provided in the task (if any)?
  • Is my essay structured well?
  • Is my choice of words throughout the paper good?
  • How can I further improve the quality of the paper?
  • Is my paper free of errors?
  • Does my content flow smoothly?
  • Is the text clear and coherent?
  • Did I provide enough supporting evidence for my ideas?

This simple checklist will assist you in ensuring that your persuasive essay is flawless.

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