When writing a persuasive essay, your purpose is to convince your audience to embrace your idea or point of view. Keeping this purpose in mind is the key to writing an effective persuasion.
Essential steps for writing a persuasive essay:
- Identify your main idea or point of view. Your purpose will be to persuade your audience to accept this idea or point of view.
- Identify your audience. To write an effective persuasive essay, try to understand your audience. For example, are your readers undecided about your issue? Or are your readers hostile to your point of view?
- Considering your audience, identify the strongest supporting points for your persuasion.
- Identify the most significant opposing view. Explaining and then refuting the opposing view strengthens the credibility and scope of your essay.
How to organize your persuasive essay:
- Your introduction should hook your reader's attention and provide background information on your topic or controversy.
- The paragraph should end with a clear statement of your main idea or point of view.
- Your body paragraphs should present the points in support of your main idea.
- Each body paragraph should focus on one point.
- Be sure to provide evidence or examples for each point.
- After presenting your supporting points, develop one paragraph to accurately explain and then refute the most significant opposing view.
- Creatively restate your main idea and supporting points.
- Try to leave your audience even more connected to your topic and persuaded by your main idea or perspective.
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Persuasion essays are another common type of academic writing. This page gives information on what a persuasion essay is and types of support to use for this type of essay. There is also an example persuasion essay on the topic of human activity.
What are persuasion essays?
Persuasion essays are similar to discussion essays in that you will present your arguments on a topic. However, instead of presenting a balanced view considering both sides, a persuasion essay will focus on one side. To persuade means to convince someone that a particular opinion is the correct one, and so your task when writing a persuasion essay is to convince the reader that your view of the situation is correct. This does not mean you will not consider the other side; indeed, doing so, via counter-arguments, is an important step in strengthening your own argument.
Below are examples of persuasion essay titles.
Types of support
Most of the types of support used for a persuasion essay are similar to other essay types, such as using facts, reasons, examples and statistics. If it is a longer (researched) essay, then using evidence from sources, with appropriate citations, will also be essential. There are, however, two types of support which are particularly useful for this type of essay, namely predicting the consequences and counter-arguments. These are considered in more detail below.
Predicting the consequence
Predicting the consequence helps the reader understand what will happen if something does or does not happen. This type of support will therefore usually be introduced with 'If...'. For example, to convince your readers that same-sex schools are disadvantageous, you might say, 'If students do not go to mixed schools, they will lose many opportunities to interact with members of the opposite sex, which may hurt them in their development of important social skills'. Avoid exaggerating the consequences. For instance, telling the reader, 'If students do not go to mixed schools, they will be shy and will not be able to talk to members of the opposite sex' exaggerates the consequences of going to single-sex schools and will make your argument less persuasive.
Counter-arguments consider the opposition's point-of-view, then present arguments against it ('to be counter to' means 'to be against'). Showing that you are aware of other arguments will strengthen your own. This is often the most difficult type of support, as you need to think who the opposition is, consider their view, and think of a good response. Counter-arguments are often presented first in a paragraph. Useful language for this type of support are phrases such as 'Opponents claim that... However...', or transition signals such as 'Although...'. The following are examples of counter-arguments for an essay on same-sex schools. Language for counter-arguments is shown in bold.
Below is an example persuasion essay. Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay. This will highlight not simply the paragraphs, but also the thesis statement and summary, as these repeat the arguments contained in the main body.
Title: Consider whether human activity has made the world a better place.
History shows that human beings have come a long way from where they started. They have developed new technologies which means that everybody can enjoy luxuries they never previously imagined. However, the technologies that are temporarily making this world a better place to live could well prove to be an ultimate disaster due to, among other things, the creation of nuclear weapons, increasing pollution, and loss of animal species.
The biggest threat to the earth caused by modern human activity comes from the creation of nuclear weapons. Although it cannot be denied that countries have to defend themselves, the kind of weapons that some of them currently possess are far in excess of what is needed for defence.If these weapons were used, they could lead to the destruction of the entire planet.
Another harm caused by human activity to this earth is pollution. People have become reliant on modern technology, which can have adverse effects on the environment. For example, reliance on cars causes air and noise pollution. Even seemingly innocent devices, such as computers and mobile phones, use electricity, most of which is produced from coal-burning power stations, which further adds to environmental pollution. If we do not curb our direct and indirect use of fossil fuels, the harm to the environment may be catastrophic.
Animals are an important feature of this earth and the past decades have witnessed the extinction of a considerable number of animal species. This is the consequence of human encroachment on wildlife habitats, for example deforestation to expand human cities. Some may argue that such loss of species is natural and has occurred throughout earth's history. However, the current rate of species loss far exceeds normal levels, and is threatening to become a mass extinction event.
In summary, there is no doubt that current human activities such as the creation of nuclear weapons, pollution, and destruction of wildlife, are harmful to the earth. It is important for us to see not only the short-term effects of our actions, but their long-term effects as well. Otherwise, human activities will be just another step towards destruction.
Below is a checklist for the main body of an essay. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.