FPRA 2010 Annual Conference: Student Track, Breakout Session B, Influencing Your Audience: Crafting Messages that Motivate People to Say “Yes” – Ken O’Quinn

Ken O’Quinn has worked in daily journalism for 21 years, including 12 years with the Associated Press. In 1994 O’Quinn created the website www.writingwithclearity.com. His new book, “Perfect Phrases for Business Letters”, published by McGraw-Hill, is available at bookstores and online at Amazon.com.

In the break out student session “Influencing Your Audience: Crafting Messages that Motivate People to Say Yes,” O’Quinn discusses the practical uses of persuasive writing. This session explores idea of persuasion and why it is important to be able to craft a persuasive argument.

Persuasion is the reinforcement, change or establishment of a belief or attitude, according to O’Quinn. It is an important skill because persuasion can be used in public relations and almost every other profession. It is also important to understand persuasion so you can recognize when someone is trying to persuade you.

 O’Quinn offers the following tips to use when crafting a persuasive argument in any situation:

  • Plan your message
    • Research your audience and learn what their beliefs, attitudes and values are before you create your message.  It is also important to understand if your audience is interested or marginally interested the topic your communicating.
    • Build your message around something the reader wants, needs or values.
  • Craft your message
    • Include credible sources, strong arguments and emotional appeal in your persuasive arguments, but be realistic about what you can accomplish through persuasion. No matter how credible, strong s or emotionally engaging your argument is, sometimes you cannot persuade people to change their attitudes or behaviors.
    • With resistant or skeptical audiences, create a sense of urgency or importance to your writing. Supportive or neutral audiences are likely to read what you write regardless of the sense of importance.
    • Try not to use industry jargon; simplify terms so they are understandable. Never use buzz words.
    • Make sure your arguments engage your audience.

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