Using Informative and Persuasive Techniques
You can write an informative proposal and use persuasive techniques to "sell" the ideas, concepts, or programs you are promoting in the document. Or you can write the document to either inform or persuade.
An informative document alone will provide information to the audience, but will not attempt to persuade them to do anything other than absorb the information.
A document that was written for the sole purpose of selling something relies much more on appeals to emotion than presenting facts. Before determining the type of document you want to write, you must first review the purpose of the document.
There are some techniques you can employ to make your documents more persuasive:
- Rhetorical questioning
- Rebuttal to arguments
- Appeal to the audience
Let's look at some examples of each of these techniques.
Repetition is a technique where the writer re-states the point in multiple ways. Sometimes even just a single word or phrase is repeated as-is in order to get the attention of the reader. Here is an example:
"We have a very severe problem here. We cannot go any longer without making changes. Again, the problem is very severe."
A rhetorical question is one that does not require an answer. It is asked merely for effect. Some examples of rhetorical questions are:
- We have a serious problem in our shipping department?
- How long can we put up with it?
- How long will it be before our customers go somewhere else?
Statistics can be very powerful elements in a proposal. They can also be quite distracting. The key to using statistics is to balance the information, present it in an understandable way, and not overload your reader with a lot of numbers, facts, and relationships between those numbers.
Here is an example of a paragraph with a lot of emphasis on statistics.
"Overall the company had another excellent year. We shipped 14.3 tons of fertilizer for the year, and averaged 1.7 tons of fertilizer during the summer months. This is an increase over last year, where we shipped only 13.1 tons of fertilizer, and averaged only 1.4 tons during the summer months. (Standard deviations were as followed: this summer .3 tons, last summer .4 tons)." (Purdue OWL: Writing with Statistics. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/672/04/ )
While the above paragraph is fine, it may bog your reader down with all the numbers. A much simpler way to present this information would be to write a simple statement about the excellent year that was had, and then present a chart or graph of some kind that shows what all these numbers mean. We will discuss the use of visuals in the last section of this class.
Rebuttal to Arguments
This is another technique that will make your reader pay attention. If you anticipate the arguments against your proposal before you present it, you can include your rebuttal in the initial proposal. State the argument and follow up with your suggestions for resolving that issue.
Your reader will appreciate you taking the time to consider these arguments before they even happen.
Appeal to the Audience
This is an emotional device that can effectively persuade your audience. For example, if you run an art gallery and you want to upgrade the security system, but you know there will be opposition to the proposal because of the cost, an emotional appeal might be to compare the cost of the upgrade to the loss that would be incurred if one of the priceless masterpieces in the gallery were stolen.