How to speak and write persuasively, not abrasively

Being persuasive is often confused with being abrasive, harsh and pushy. In contrast, persuasive speaking and writing all about being empathetic but at the same time, making an impact. A good communicator focusses on the following elements:


Ethos, which is a Greek term for “character” or “spirit,” describes the author’s persona. As a writer or a speaker, you should make sure to have good reputation with your audience. Experts on a subject are more likely to persuade better.


Pathos, which is the Greek word for “suffering” or “experience,” refers to an author’s use of appeals to emotions. As much as we are practical beings, people prefer to act more on the basis of emotion than on reason. A compelling writer/speaker is well aware of this.

In order to gain the reader’s sympathy or persuade them to take into account the sentiments of others, the author could draw on personal experience, such as narrating a powerful anecdote.


This refers to the use of logical reasoning and empirical evidence, the ancient Greek term for “logic” or “rationale.” A competent writer/speaker supports their viewpoint using numbers and facts in addition to a compelling argument. Research-heavy argumentation isn’t all that logos is about (although that is essential). In persuasive writing, logos also refers to organising your case as effectively as you can. This entails understanding how to begin, developing your ideas in the proper order, and concluding with a strong statement.

Persuasive Speaking

You will come certainly, at some point, across a situation where you have to be persuasive. This can range from debating politics, to making a collective decision for your team at office, or even, to discussing what to have for dinner. You must, in a way, meet the audience halfway, which is why persuasive speaking is particularly listener-centric.

Here’s what you can do if you have make a strong impact with your speech/presentation. Use this for any situation- be it a sales pitch, a business meeting, or even an interview.

Chalk out the goals of the speech:

What do you want to do with your speech? Urge the audience to take action, such as making a purchase, or getting aware of your brand? Have a clear purpose and align your audience towards that through your speech/presentation.

Identify the target audience:

There will almost always be a fraction of the audience who disagrees with your notions, doesn’t want to take the required action. It is generally not easy to try to convince the part of the audience that vehemently disagrees with the viewpoint presented. You should thus concentrate on the audience members who are still unsure of the answer. You can better address the concerns of this indecisive audience by speaking to them personally.

Recognise your audience’s reactions:

When the audience is listening to a persuasive speech, they use non-verbal cues like brow furrowing, head nodding, or rolling eyes to indicate whether or not they appreciate or agree with what the speaker is saying. You as a speaker can clarify some issues in greater depth by taking note of these non-verbal cues.

Pre-empt common objections:

A large portion of the audience will take your point of you view with a pinch of salt. As a result, you as an orator must acknowledge and address these criticisms throughout the speech. Instead of addressing them blindly by suggesting the facts, and address the concerns logically.

Let’s say you’re pitching a business deal and there are varied objections- mostly on how your offering is insufficient, meticulously address each of them with logical arguments. If there’s a potential flaw in your own argument, do not overrule it. Address it and say that you’ll come back to them. Apply all the techniques of negotiation that we addressed in our previous blog.

Persuasive Writing

Now that you’re clear on how to use ethos, pathos and logos, we will provide you with some highly useful tips which will help you write persuasively!

Use words carefully:

In order to establish a personal connection with the reader through persuasive writing, the right mix of word choice is the key. To persuade the reader that your viewpoint is correct, you should constantly choose the strongest words and phrases feasible in each situation. Emotional language, or words and phrases that express sentiments, is another technique used in persuasive writing to persuade readers to identify emotionally with the subject.

Ask the right questions:

Although questions are excellent for making transitions from one topic or paragraph to another, they have a purpose in persuasive writing. Any question you ask will elicit an immediate mental response from your reader, or at the very least, a brief period of thought.

Questions can be used by persuasive authors to stimulate the reader’s critical thinking. First, questions can be used to seed concepts and direct readers to the author’s solutions. Second, the ultimate aim of persuasive writing—getting the reader to come to the author’s conclusion on their own—can be achieved by just asking the proper question provided you’ve organised your case and presented your evidence effectively.

Direct your speech to the reader:

The relationship between the author and the reader is quite important in persuasive writing. Speak directly to the reader, occasionally even using the pronoun “you,” since this is one way to build a connection with them.

An excellent writing technique is to address the reader directly. Even if it is one-sided, it gives the writing a more conversational feel, which may persuade the reader to let down some barriers and give your arguments a fair go.

How you can be consistent at being persuasive:

In addition to using these tips in your speaking and writing, keep course-correcting based on the lessons learnt- gauge the response from your readers, check if your calls to action are working. If you’re someone who’s just starting out on the journey of improving your communication, check out our other blogs on improving confidence, your listening and negotiation.

5 responses to “How to speak and write persuasively, not abrasively”

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