Persuasive Communication

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Persuasive Communication

By: Robert F. Abbott

Is all communication persuasive? Sometimes, it seems it is. At the least, we can say much of our communication includes a persuasion component.

Consider this article, which takes an editorial rather than an overtly persuasive approach. Yet, the underlying premise is that strategic communication works more effectively than communication without a conscious purpose. So, I'm trying to persuade you that one approach (the strategic) to communication works better than another.

Consider, too, the three most intriguing words in the English language: "I love you." At the same time, these words can be both self-sacrificing and self-serving. In the self-serving sense, we use the words because we want something from the person to whom we've uttered them.

Given our need to persuade through communication, let's explore a key starting point for getting the results we want.

Because persuasive communication focuses on the other person, we need to have that other person firmly in our sights when we write or speak. In other words, communication will be most persuasive when we build the message around the other person, rather than ourselves.

So, if you want to persuade me to do something, your communication should focus on my response. And to get a response from me, you'll have to address the issues in my terms, not your terms.

In sales and marketing, this idea is well developed. Copywriters and others know their chances of getting a sale go up dramatically when they communicate benefits. They point out how the reader or listener will come out ahead by buying or using their products. "Buy this shampoo and you'll have a more active social life," for example.

The link between product and consumer needs involves the connection between features (what the product does) and outcomes for users. In the case of the shampoo example, let's say the product's features include a new moisturizer that makes our hair more attractive. In turn, more attractive hair means we're more likely to enjoy a busier social life. So, the marketer who emphasizes the outcome or benefit (a more active social life) will sell more shampoo than a marketer who focuses on the product or its features (new moisturizer).

In non-sales fields that idea of addressing the needs of readers and listeners isn't nearly as well appreciated. Consider internal memos, composed and circulated by millions of well-meaning managers and supervisors. Many of them focus on the needs of the manager or the organization, and not on the reader, the person who needs to be persuaded by the writer of the memo.

Would internal memos work more effectively if their writers focused on the reader instead of themselves? Would people making in-house presentations get better responses by building their pitches on the needs or aspirations of the audience? I think so. The experience in sales has shown, overwhelmingly, that benefits outsell features (features being the characteristics of the product or service being sold).

When you next set out to send an important message, pause long enough to ask yourself whether persuasion is your goal -- either directly or indirectly. If you do want to persuade, then ask yourself if you've focused sufficiently on the recipients. That's the starting point for persuasive communication.

About The Author

Robert F. Abbott writes and publishes Abbott's Communication Letter. Each week subscribers receive, at no charge, a new communication tip that helps them lead or manage more effectively. Click here for more information:


freakinp 22.02.2011. 02:29

Can you give me examples of persuasive communication? Ok so i know that market advertisement is an example/type of persuasive communication. Can any1 else give me a couple more examples of what would be considered persuasive communication?
Like where else is persuasive communication used? (except when people have conversation)


Admin 22.02.2011. 02:29

Do it or I'll belt you with my fist.


susan B 08.01.2007. 01:24

Where can i find a good website to do research on psychology? I need to find out about persuasive communication and the ethics of social pyschology. Is there a good site where i can find these out.

susan B

Admin 08.01.2007. 01:24

Go to library and check out latest edition to:
Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology
and also a social psychology textbook.

My social psych. textbook only offer the principles of communication and doesn't cover persuasive communication though so make sure the book you look at includes persuasive communication before you check it out and take it home.

See if library has:
Arguing and thinking : a rhetorical approach to social psychology
by Michael Billig

Some websites to explore:

Hope this helps! I also hope you are getting good information from appropriate sources. Remember: Its good to get things from textbooks and Peer-Reviewed journals!


Just Wondering 12.11.2012. 22:46

Is there a Psychology website that just has definitions of words? Including
"Vested Interest"
"Accessability of Attitude"
"Persuasive communication route"
and so and so forth.

Just Wondering

Admin 12.11.2012. 22:46


??:) 23.04.2013. 00:59

Advice from someone in the publishing industry? Hi-
I am a freshman communications major in college,and am starting to plan my classes for the next couple years. I am planning to get into the publishing industry and am unsure of which classes would benefit me most in that pursuit. Below are the list of classes I may choose from as a communications major:
Public Relations

Copywriting/Storyboarding in Broadcast Advertising

Copyediting, Layout and Design

Website Design and Publishing

Principles of Marketing

Principles of Advertising

Sports-Related Marketing

Advertising Campaigns

Event Planning and Management

Advanced Public Relations

Survey of Broadcasting and New Media

TV Production I

Beginning Cinema Production

Radio Industry

Politics in Cinema

Advanced Cinema Production

Broadcast Sports Production

Freedom of Communication

Legal Issues & the New Media

Broadcast News Production

Argumentation & Advocacy

Persuasive Communication Campaigns

Business and Professional Communication

Small Group Communication


Working on the Echo


Film Theory (capstone, Film and Television Production Concentration)

Can someone in the publishing industry advise me on which classes would be best to take for the field? thanks !


Admin 23.04.2013. 00:59

If you plan to pursue a career in the publishing industry, its best to stick to the basics. Start with writing, once that's cleared you can branch out to other forms of media like video and film. Public relations is also necessary since publishing needs strong networks. Its like what they always say, "its about the people you know".

Here are a few classes I selected from your board:

Copywriting/Storyboarding in Broadcast Advertising


Film Theory (capstone, Film and Television Production Concentration)

Broadcast News Production

Persuasive Communication Campaigns

Advertising Campaigns

Principles of Marketing

Public Relations

Freedom of Communication

Legal Issues & the New Media

Business and Professional Communication

I hope this helps!


slam 17.02.2009. 07:54

what is the difference between communication arts and journalism? I am a highschool senior who wants to pursue a degree in the field of mass communication.The university I want to get into offers both Communication Arts and Journalism.But I am confused,how does the former differ from the latter?


Admin 17.02.2009. 07:54

Communication Arts is the study of rhetoric (public speaking), interpersonal communication and film, TV and radio production. Students interested in writing, directing or producing movies or television programs should pursue a communication arts major. Journalism focuses on objective or persuasive communication, with a strong emphasis on writing skills.


Squash 19.12.2011. 04:32

What is an easy topic for a persuasive speech? I have to give a persuasive speech for my communications final. I have a 100 in the class, so I'm not too worried about making it perfect, but of course I do want a good grade. I'm looking for an easy, but not too simple topic. Any ideas? By the way, I'm a senior in high school.


Admin 19.12.2011. 04:32

Why teenagers including adults should stop drinking to reduce the death rate in the US?


inuyasha#1 16.03.2012. 23:43

What could be a good conclusion for a persuasive essay supporting the death penalty? ok well im almost done with my persuasive essay for my communication class all i need is more of a conclusion about what we can do for the death penalty like more of a Solution to it like we can have a petition or a pic kiting Just don't know how to put it in word please help me?
Parvis? how do you know me?
and thanks to all of u the answers are the best


Admin 16.03.2012. 23:43

In your conclusion (this should apply for more than just this particular essay), start with your thesis, but state it as an accomplished fact. Instead of telling the reader you are going to prove the death penalty should happen, tell them you have proven the death penalty should happen.

From there, there is no science. I would suggest that you apply what you have proven to the world scene. You've spent a few paragraphs or pages or whatever explaining that the death penalty is a solution to the problem of felons (or whatever; example time). Now how is that going to benefit the world? How can you apply it to a department of corrections to make the department more effective?

Hope that helped. =)


SKSKSK 23.10.2006. 22:55

What are some good topics for a persuasive speech for a college speech class? I have to give a persuasive speech for my speech communication class. It needs to be on a controversial topic, and I am supposed to attempt to persuade people people to agree with my opinion or view or motivate them to do something. It can't be something product-oriented (meaning, I can't try to convince the class to buy something or use a certain product), and I don't want it to be about politics (or at least not overly political). I also don't want it to be something hackneyed and unoriginal. I can't think what I want to speak about. Does anyone have any good ideas? Or links to websites with information that will help me pick a topic?

Thanks so much.


Admin 23.10.2006. 22:55

I would speak about human rights, are they truly universal? What about culture? Has the West defined what human rights are? So where does that leave the East?

Controversial, indeed. (I would say they are universal, but there's a great argument to why they are not)

There is an article called Are Human Rights Universal? by Thomas Franke. My IAF class used it for an exam, it's excellent. I miraculously was able to find it online, it's linked below.

Good luck!


Inlove 23.04.2009. 16:20

How can I make a nonverbal communication paper persuasive? I got assigned a topic for a persuasive/information paper: Nonverbal communication. What could I write about to make it into a persuasive paper? I can talk about cross cultural things, gender things,... anything really but it has to be 15 pages.... so... something with a lot of material! thanks!!


Admin 23.04.2009. 16:20

There is a discipline (a pseudo-science really) called NLP (Neurological Programming) heavily based on body language. Maybe worth a look.

Non-verbal communication in politics is always interesting.

A comparative study of non-verbal gestures in different genres of popular music might be worth a try.

Hell, fifteen pages is a lot so good luck...


The Einstienian Spartacus Maximus Power the 1st 10.04.2012. 19:35

How to make a movie into a persuasive speech? I have to do a persuasive speech for my public communication class, and I was thinking of doing it on why they should watch The Dark Knight Rises. I was thinking of talking about the story/theme, the cinematography, and the director's history of movies and why he wants to return back. I'm kinda stuck, but I was wondering if this is effective?

The Einstienian Spartacus Maximus Power the 1st

Admin 10.04.2012. 19:35

Talk about the director and how he created these pop culture and critically acclaimed sensations in The Dark Knight and Inception. Talk about how the cast has multiple Academy Award winners (Bale, Freeman, Caine, Cotillard), multiple Academy Award nominees (Oldman, Hathaway) and up-and-comers Hardy and Gordon-Levitt. Talk about how this is the conclusion to a great story that is beyond epic proportions. And talk about the cinematography and how the epic scale will be brought to life in IMAX.


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