Last night, I really wanted to finish a crochet project I was working on. I like to have something interesting playing in the background even if I can't necessarily look at the screen, so I started "watching" episodes from The Legend of Korra. Unfortunately, that meant I got stuck sitting through a lot of ads.

For some reason, I kept seeing the same ad for a certain weight-loss medication. In many cases, it played twice in a row! As annoying as it was, it did demonstrate some useful techniques for writing persuasively:

  • Connect with your audience by explaining the problem in a relatable way. This commercial begins by showing several characters exercising or preparing healthy food while explaining that they've always been told to just "eat less" or "move more" but still haven't been able to maintain their weight loss. Many viewers have tried these same methods to lose weight and also had limited success, so they instantly feel a connection to the characters.

  • Offer hope. Especially given the way our society judges people who are overweight, viewers who've tried and failed to lose weight are likely feeling discouraged or even hopeless. One character states that willpower isn't the silver bullet for weight loss; "there's a science to obesity." In other words, it isn't entirely viewers' fault that they haven't succeeded. This primes the audience to at least listen to what the commercial is about to propose. (Of course, make sure you're honest when offering hope. Commercials are notorious for suggesting that their products will make everything perfect, even when that's not realistic or possible.)

  • Introduce your thesis/solution to the problem. Another character describes how the advertised medicine affects her body to help her lose and keep off weight. 

  • Address opposing viewpoints. A character gives a long list of contraindications, side effects, and warning signs. 

  • End with something hopeful and memorable. The commercial closes with the characters saying, "We've always had the will. Now [name of medicine] gives us another way."

These techniques work for any kind of persuasive writing, from copywriting to editorials. So the next time you're having trouble writing a convincing argument, try implementing this structure in your piece. It'll make a big difference.

Write on,


P.S. What topics would you like to hear about in these posts? Comment below and let me know!

(Thanks to @chairulfajar_ for sharing their work on Unsplash.)