3 Steps to More Persuasive Writing
Anytime you write, you're trying to persuade your readers to do or feel what you want them to. To be persuasive, you have to believe in what you're saying. And you have to believe in your ability to communicate it.
Consider: When you're talking with people face to face you can tell right away if they are nervous or uncomfortable. Their eyes won't meet yours, they talk too little or too much, their voices might be shaky, etc. And their discomfort makes you trust them less.
Readers can spot a writer's lack of confidence a mile away. If they sense you are uncomfortable with what you're saying, they won't feel comfortable giving you their money.
To be persuasive, you have to write with conviction and credibility. When you write confidently, your passion shows through and becomes contagious. Here are three ways to boost your professional confidence, by honing your writing skills.
1. Know what you're talking about. When I was starting out, I used to spend long hours at the public library researching public records, census reports, poring over various encyclopedias, and so on, to gather background on whatever I was writing about. It was slow, tedious business, with a lot of false leads and restarts. (Hard to believe now people used to be able to bill for that time!)
Now you can find out a lot about everything in just a few Google searches. What used to take hours, even days, take minutes. So really, there's no excuse for not doing your research. The only thing you have to learn is to separate the wheat from the chaff.
2. Find your voice or rather the voice of the person signing the letter. There aren't a lot of shortcuts for this, but it is time well spent. Start by writing a draft that captures what you want to say. Tell a story, describe the need, make an ask, show your readers why your mission depends on them and ask again.
Willis believes in expressive writing, exceptional fundraising, and exuberant living.
Willis Turner is the senior copywriter at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He was an experienced writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 20 years before making the switch to fundraising nearly 15 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, as well as collateral materials and communications, that get attention, tell emotional stories, and persuade people to take action or make a donation.