Persuasive devices

How to use persuasive language techniques effectively

Persuasive language is used for many reasons, for example, to help to sell products or services, or to convince people to accept a view or idea. Politicians often use persuasive techniques to get their audience to agree with their views on a particular topic. Persuasive language is a very powerful tool for getting what you want.

Here are some types of persuasive techniques and examples of how they can be used:

TechniqueExamples
Flattery - complimenting your audience. A person of your intelligence deserves much better than this.
Opinion - a personal viewpoint often presented as if fact. In my view, this is the best thing to have ever happened.
Hyperbole - exaggerated language used for effect. It is simply out of this world – stunning!
Personal pronouns - ‘I’, ‘you’ and ‘we’. You are the key to this entire idea succeeding - we will be with you all the way. I can’t thank you enough!
Imperative command - instructional language. Get on board and join us!
Triples - three points to support an argument.Safer streets means comfort, reassurance and peace of mind for you, your family and your friends.
Emotive language - vocabulary to make the audience/reader feel a particular emotion. There are thousands of animals at the mercy of our selfishness and disregard for kindness.
Statistics and figures - factual data used in a persuasive way. 80% of people agreed that this would change their community for the better.
Rhetorical question - a question which implies its own answer. Who doesn’t want success?

Example

Thinking about what an opposing writer may say and providing a counter argument can be very powerful and will make your own point appear stronger.

William Wallace led the Scottish rebellion against Edward I in the fourteenth century. His exploits were made into the film Braveheart. In this extract from his speech for freedom, think about his overall purpose and how is he trying to convince his audience in a certain way.

I am William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny! You have come to fight as free men. And free men you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight? Yes! Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!

Analysis

William uses plenty of personal pronouns (‘I, you, our’) to make the audience feel as though he is speaking to them on an individual level. The repeated use of ‘free’ emphasises the overall topic of his speech, and the benefit to the people listening. He repeatedly uses rhetorical questions, one after the other to impact on the audience - they feel that they must fight to protect their freedom. The closing sentence is highly emotive; he uses the word ‘freedom’ to leave the overall message with his audience to consider for themselves.