Step Three in the five steps of persuasive writing is probably the step that people struggle with the most. Step Two relied on emotional appeals to bring readers closer to accepting your proposal or believing as you believe. But emotional appeals alone cannot ensure success in your persuasive writing. Strong emotional appeals can lead to temporary persuasion, but coupled with the strong logical appeals of Step Three, it is possible to bring about long-term changes in thought or action.
Step Three involves using logical appeals in writing that offer your readers hard evidence that a change in belief or action is necessary. Readers who are savvy consumers of information will want facts and numbers, examples, and expert opinion to help them make an educated decision about the persuasion. An argument that lacks hard evidence may sound something like this:
"Writing Therapy is critical for all people who suffer from depression. It gives the sufferer a chance to not only process information, but to read and reread the information written for maximum understanding of the issues at hand. It worked for my cousin and I believe it is truly the cornerstone for healing from depression."
Readers will be more inclined to agree with this persuasion if it reads like this:
"Writing Therapy is critical for all people who suffer from depression. In a study conducted by the National Institute on Depression in 2009, writing therapy was used as the primary treatment plan for 450 out of 635 patients diagnosed with chronic depression. Those 450 patients showed significant steps toward recovery in six months of treatment. Recovery was measured by an increased ability to function at work with less sick days being taken and fewer problems with insomnia."
This is, of course, a hypothetical persuasion with fabricated facts, however, the effectiveness of the persuasion in the second passage lies in the fact that credible-sounding statistical evidence was presented. To pack a powerhouse of persuasion in Step Three, it is best to use a combination of statistics (numbers), expert testimony, and an example as proof.
Statistical evidence shows that the theories have been tested in a representative number of cases. What constitutes a representative number fluctuates depending upon the situation. Seven hundred may be a representative number of people suffering from depression, whereas 100 may be a representative number of people riding public transportation to work in a small city. Real numbers have more impact, as opposed to general figures like, "hundreds of people." In all cases, statistics should be compiled by a credible agency that is not biased in their investigation and does not have a vested interest in the outcome of the investigation.
Expert Testimony relies upon the credibility of the source for effectiveness. In a courtroom, the person testifying on behalf of the defendant's mental incapability to stand trial should be a medical expert. The defendant's immediate supervisor at work may have an MBA from Harvard but he did not study psychiatry. His statements would not be expert testimony. In Step Three of the five steps of persuasion, the writer must be discerning in selecting quotes and evidence from a cited source. Who is the most qualified expert to back up your persuasion? Again, the expert must be unbiased and without a vested interested in the outcome for the maximum amount of persuasive effectiveness.
Finally, a strategically placed example can really bring the point home. This would not be the time to use a hypothetical example as in Step Two because logical appeals must be based upon true evidence. This can take the form of a real-life case study that demonstrates the effectiveness of your point. Here, there is some leeway with using a formal case study conducted by an expert or using an informal case study from your personal experience. If your cousin tried writing therapy without being in a program but was able to see significant results with work productivity and sleep problems within a year, this would be further evidence to strengthen the statistics and expert testimony. If you are using an informal example such as this, it should follow the strongest evidence from statistics and expert testimony,
Step Three in the five steps of persuasive writing is one that should be developed with care. Unsubstantiated persuasive arguments can potentially move readers from a neutral position into a position of complete disagreement. Readers may feel put off by a lack of regard for their intelligence or the expectation that they will simply be persuaded by charming words. Strong persuasion requires strong evidence. Strong evidence is created by a combination of real facts, professional opinion, and effective examples.
So, you have made it through the first three steps in the five steps of persuasive writing. Stay tuned for Step Four. Keep writing and experimenting!