If we assume that you have an innovative idea that has commercial potential, a challenge in itself, writing something that is easy to read goes a long way to increasing your chances of being funded. Below are some tips to communicate your idea using persuasive writing.
Repeat, repeat, repeat
Learning psychology has shown that repetition works, and it works with persuasive writing. But the trick is to make your point in different ways, use examples, be direct, in a story, via quotes and news articles. Make your case using all the means you can to convince the reader of your point of view.
Provide a reason why
Psychological studies have shown that simply saying ‘because’ after a request makes the request easier to agree with, even when the request isn’t really that important.
Social psychologist Ellen Langer performed an experiment where she asked people if she could go to the front of the queue to use a photocopy machine. The results,
- Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine? – 60% said OK.
- Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?- 94% said OK.
- Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies? – 93% said OK.
I wouldn’t use too many examples of the last one, but the point is, always give reasons why don’t just state your opinion.
Use emotions in your writing that help to provoke feelings of empathy or sympathy. This can be particularly effective when describing the human elements of your idea – “users are frustrated with the lack of effective and cheap alternatives” – for example.
You are writing to a human, so be human in your writing, communicate emotions whenever you can. Connect directly with the reader by using personal pronouns such as “you”, “we”, “us” as much as possible. Using personal pronouns is a strong form of persuasive writing, notice how many adverts are written using personal pronouns and are directed at you.
Why do Uber, Ebay, Amazon, AirBnB and other social commerce platforms work? Because they provide buyers and sellers with social proof of their products. You don’t buy from people with terrible feedback, and readers aren’t convinced unless you show that other people are also convinced. Provide social proof in your proposal, provide quotes from potential buyers, and experts to bolster your social proof. Prove that you are not the only person that likes your idea.
Make your problem their problem then solve it.
This is a persuasion theme that works as an overall approach to making your case. First, you identify the problem and qualify your audience. Then you increase the reader’s concern about the problem, before offering your solution as the answer that will make it all better.
Increasing the concern isn’t about scaremongering, it is about empathy. Make your problem the reader’s problem, make the reader know you understand their problem and that you are experienced in solving the problem. The credibility of your solution goes way up if you demonstrate that you truly feel the reader’s pain.
Point out the problems
Don’t leave the evaluator saying “yeah, but…”, if you do, you’ve lost the argument. Be honest about what could go wrong, and provide credible responses to the problems.
This is particularly true with identifying the competition, I don’t care how innovative your idea is you’ll have competition. If you don’t think you have competition then ask yourself, how does the market meet its need now?
Show you understand all the problems and you’ll be more convincing.
Write a story with music not words
We’ve been telling stories to get our point across since the dawn of time. If you don’t believe in the power of stories, then stop reading to your children. Children’s stories are the ultimate tool of parents trying to convince children to be honest and trustworthy human beings.
Stories allow people to persuade themselves, we can’t convince people of anything, but we can help them decide that we’re right.
Tell a story throughout your proposal, a story that starts with your idea, where it came from, why it is important, and what will happen if you get it right.
And when you write, write music, not words.
Great writing moves you through the document without effort, reading isn’t hard work and is as quick as thought. To do this you have to understand how short and long sentences work together. Author Gary Provost explains this better than I can in his book 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing.
“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.
I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.
So write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader’s ear. Don’t just write words. Write music.”
That is all.
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