Skills for Clear and Persuasive Writing

Select Your Language

“It is often said that ideas make the world go `round. However, in truth, it is clearly stated and persuasively presented ideas that make the world go `round!” Hard to understand ideas presented in a sloppy fashion do not influence people.

THE SKILLS TO BE MASTERED

1. Target topic selection—what do you really want to focus upon?

“People from small villages have to go several kilometers to get basic supplies.”

2. Funneled Introduction (general to specific)

“Everyone wants more money. Most don’t know how to get it. But they can learn money making skills. We can teach community classes on making money.”

3. Thesis Statement (one concise sentence saying what you believe is true)

“If there is more than one supplier of a goods or service, they will compete for customers by lowering prices OR increasing the quality of what they offer.”

4. Keeping the reader oriented

“The reader needs to keep in mind that these people are not used to banking practices. And cell phone banking just came to them one year ago.”

5. Indicate the relative importance of the various ideas you present

“While the number of fishing ponds can be increased, remember that a lasting solution will involve investment leading to jobs.”

6. How to handle changes in topic

“But let’s consider another approach. Pretend you wanted more money. Perhaps you would think of raising a goat or some chickens. Keeping small livestock can be profitable.”

7. Referring to previously mentioned ideas

“As was mentioned in the second paragraph, ….”

8. Indication that an argument has been successfully built

“Given the three situations just mentioned, it is reasonable to conclude that …”

9. Using plausible and specific postulates

“Plastic make-shift raincoats are cheap.”
“It rains a lot in our country.”
“Some people are more enthusiastic than others.”
“If you keep working in the rain you will get more done.”

10. Drawing and presenting conclusions from the postulates

“If one is prepared, he/she can continue do work when it rains and therefore produce more.”

11. Using convincing documentation

“Using notes taken from Dr. Gonzales’ speech at the 2018 Rotary convention in San Pedro Sula …”

12. Reader friendly use of citations

This argument has already been made (Epps, 2016) and was supported by other experts (Sanchez, 2019) in the field.”

13. Thoughtful use of humorous examples

“Seldom do people think that chickens can talk. But if they could talk, I bet they would say, ‘if you want eggs, you better keeping feeding us!”

14. Suggest an action plan to the reader

“Now that you understand the benefits of pure drinking water—discuss with some of your neighbors the possibility of drilling a well together.”

Decor

WHY THESE SKILLS ARE NEEDED:

People have good ideas; but their ideas get lost because other people are opposed to them, think they won’t work, or are not inspired by them. Most of these difficulties are removed when the ideas are clearly stated and persuasively presented.

NGOs, like the Haitian National Congress, have a valuable untapped resource in the form of the good ideas of their members. But it is only when these members have the practiced ability to offer their ideas in a clear and persuasive written presentation that this valuable resource can be brought to the service of a society struggling to become a real democracy. Regardless of whether the reader of a good idea is a poor person, a wealthy businessman or a member of the government, if the idea is not presented in writing, clearly and persuasively, it will likely (a) not be received at all, (b) readily dismissed or (c) thrown in the nearest trash basket.

NOTE TO TEACHER: MORE THAN A WRITING COURSE ... SELF DEVELOPMENT TOO!

Dr. Epps believes that all people have a creative spark within them and an urge to express that creativity. A subtle but pervasive part of the course is his supportive and confidence building manner that urges each student to express him/herself. On the surface this is a writing course, but under the surface it is also an esteem building course. Dr. Epps is an enthusiast for people making their contribution to life. Effectively making a contribution often depends upon one’s ability to write clearly and persuasively. He gives students the tools to do that. In addition, he encourages each one to find their personal best and to express it in a useful way-to benefit the organization, their community and possibly the world.

SOME of the SKILLS TO BE MASTERED are demonstrated in the following article.

Ever since the first entrepreneurial cave man hired a few friends (“Funneled Introduction”- starts general, grabs the reader’s attention, rapidly but logically goes specific, ending with a clear message, the “Thesis Statement”) to help him operate his business people around the world have struggled between their urge to horde private gains and their urge to share the gains with the group! We can see this in corporate America today: on the one hand, owners want to rake in profits. On the other hand, they want to share the wealth so their employees can have a good life-but that would take away from the profits!

The ancient struggle is still with us. But there is hope. Corporate leaders can share something besides money. An inexpensive way to boost employee performance, reward desired work behavior and also benefit the worker is to honor an outstanding employee each month. Below this writer presents evidence that doing so will benefit both the corporation and the workers.

The industrial sociologist, Dr. James Britton of Central Missouri State University, holds that the majority of workers (Use convincing documentation) are more interested in being honored in the presence of their peers than they are in receiving small cash rewards. Few states of being are more desirable to a human than the warm glow that first floods the psyche, and then the physical body, as (plausible and specific postulates) his peers and bosses stand, clap and cheer him for a job well done! People like to be honored.

Furthermore, as Dr. Skinner, the father of behavioral psychology, (convincing documentation) so aptly demonstrated: when behavior is rewarded, it is more likely to be repeated. Seems like a no-brainer! (postulate, specific & believable)

Who doesn’t remember enticing the stray puppy to stay at your house by slipping it food when your Mom and Dad were not around. But some corporate chiefs fail to use this basic tool—they get trapped in the belief that folks ought to work hard just because it’s the right thing to do. Well, let’s wish them luck! But, if they are serious about wanting behavior repeated, they should reward it! They can use honoring as the reward.

Of the companies questioned by this writer over the years, the ones who have a plan to reward outstanding employees. This is true with Black & Decker, Hallmark Cards, Enrich International. (convincing documentation) all plan to continue it because they say it benefits the company! It increases worker output and makes work more enjoyable because of the spirit of camaraderie it creates.

Based upon their actual experience it is clear that companies benefit from honoring their employees. (postulate, specific & believable) As the reader can see from the evidence presented here, rewarding employees for desired behavior is a win/win- (Indicate argument is built) for the company and the employee.

Three points have been demonstrated thus far: (Keep reader oriented) people want to be honored, rewarded behavior tends to be repeated and companies who have tried rewarding say it works. Based on the above, it seems reasonable to conclude that companies will benefit from a rewards program. (DRAWING and presenting conclusions) (List the benefits)

The reader can sense by now that there is an abundance of benefits to having an employee rewards program. Some, but not all, are listed here: increases worker performance while costing the company very little, increases worker pride in achieving at work, lowers absenteeism-people like to come to work because they get rewarded and there is a spirit of camaraderie, clearly signals what work behaviors/attitudes the company thinks is important, allows management to feel good about themselves they don’t just “use” the workers they also do something good for them, promotes harmony-which leads to trust and so or-between management and workers.

Given these benefits, one wonders why every company doesn’t have an employee rewards program! If your company does not have one, share this article with a friendly boss and ask how you can help get the ball rolling.

(Suggest action plan) You might be tempted to say, “Well, of course! All can see that this article is clearly and persuasively written. Therefore, we’ll tell people to write better. Think that should handle the problem?” It is the experience of this writer that most people do not feel good about their writing skills. Also, they are quite hesitant to write and then present their ideas to others—especially if the others are higher in authority.

Merely telling them to write better is not likely to increase the flow of good ideas to upper management. And beyond that, most do not have practice in using the skills being discussed here. Riding a bicycle is easy—once you know how. Writing with these skills is also easy—once you’ve learned and practiced them.