An Outline of a Basic Persuasive Message

  • Persuasive messages require extra attention to purpose and audience analysis
  • Persuasive messages require conscious selection of organizational plan (direct versus indirect.)
  • There are different types of persuasive messages (selling ideas, making requests, asking favor, selling a product, making a claim), and each one of these types of persuasion use a specific outline.
  • Recognize that your audience is more inclined to say “no” than “yes” or will be in a position of having to choose a limited number of proposals for a given situation. Perhaps just one.
  • You must make a compelling argument in your favor based on research which will provide you with data and supporting facts.

To write effective persuasive messages, it is vital that you possess a fundamental understanding of the nature of persuasion. These are not routine messages. Your audience is not predisposed to say “yes” to you. It is also likely that you are facing competition (for funds, a job, a competitive product, another course of action, etc.).

Therefore, you must convince your audience with sufficient evidence that is objective, specific, logical, and reasonable with an appropriate level of emotion. Make certain you understand that you are not simply telling your reader that something should be done. You must explain to your read why it must be done. This will inevitably take more words.


Regardless of your organizational plan, you must (in this order):

  1. Create interest and justify your request.
  2. Deal with (and neutralize) obstacles. (Do this without “announcing” that this is what you’re doing.)
  3. Motivate action (and make it easy to take).
  4. Close on a friendly, sincere, and original note (might be just a single sentence).

This is a proven approach to persuasion, and it is the outline I will be looking for in your messages. Keep these things in mind:

  1. Each component should be in its own paragraph.
  2. Creating interest and justifying the request should comprise the bulk of the message.
  3. More than one paragraph may be required for one or more of these components, but dealing with obstacles should not consume more words or space than creating interest and justifying the request.
  4. The call to action should be as easy to take as possible.

The range of 400-500 words.

  • Use the indirect organization plan.
  • Further understand that to write an effective message, you will have to create and/or research reasonable and appropriate details.
  • Whenever possible, you should open with a sincere compliment.
  • Be specific, be specific, be specific. This will require you to research authentic details.
  • Don’t actually call an obstacle and obstacle. Just neutralize it.
  • Keep paragraphs short to promote readability (No more than 3-4 sentences in a paragraph!!)
  • Edit carefully for cliches, wordy expressions, and precise word choice.

I have attached a screenshot of the prompt. The professional I would like to shadow would be an attorney.

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