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Words are powerful
Those who say actions speak louder than words probably didn’t study rhetoric – the art of using language effectively and persuasively.
Words are powerful. When you dive deep into the art of persuasion in language you begin to unveil some incredible tactics that can give your brand an advantage when it comes to storytelling.
I find something extremely satisfying about reading a well crafted product description. When content combines succinct details with a dash of sass, I’m hooked. Apparently emotions are stirred by words (groundbreaking I know), but winning over your audience is easier said than done.
These generic rules break down rhetoric into bite size pieces:
Rhetoric Rule #1: Don`t try to change anybody`s mind. You will be more successful if you work with what you’ve got. People have their own sets of beliefs and values. The most effectively communications come by creating a complementary message to what people hold dear. Trying to change these principals is a sucker`s game. The goal is influence, not command.
Rhetoric Rule #2: Many hear the word persuasion and define it as manipulation or getting someone to do something against their will. Persuasion is not manipulation; it is about connecting people with the values and beliefs they already hold.
Rhetoric Rule #3: Always establish who you are and why you have the right to speak. Persuasion is about connecting a person’s experience to what you want them to know.
How to spellbind your audience
Here are some tips and tactics for using language as a tool that will spellbind your audience:
1. Observe, study and take note of the ones who are doing it right.
Barak Obama and Steve Jobs are two very persuasive gentlemen. They, of course have an outstanding speech writing team, but their effectiveness is heavily influenced by their delivery. I do not necessarily mean the visual presentation or the sound of their voice but their choice of words to present the message. Their speeches are riddled with rhetorical devices such as alliterations, enthymemes and parallelisms . Take note of what resonates with you when reading or listening to their message and use the same technique when crafting your own content.
2. Time to brush up on your grammar.
Become familiar with rhetorical devices. To get started there is a list of 50 rhetorical devices for rational writing here. Try to integrate a few of these in your writing. For exmple use parallelism – the same part of speech or syntactic structure, or anaphora – repetition of one or more words at the head of consecutive phrases, clauses, or sentences.
3. Build and establish ethos and pathos.
Ethos, put simply, is you or your company’s authority and credibility. The era of the generalist is over. Employ language in your voice that is very accessible and denotes a connection to the common person. Pathos is a term used for your emotional appeal in a given message. It can be used to create feelings of confidence and intrigue in a brand (ex: established in 1901), or to create a sense of urgency and reinforce value to the consumer.
4. Provide compelling evidence for why your product or service is superior.
Prove to your audience that what you are offering is unlike anything else. Highlight the unique selling proposition with a real voice and make sure your claims are true and verifiable.
5. Use concrete language.
Keep your message SIMPLE = CORE + COMPACT. We are more likely to remember concrete details. Ask yourself: What one thing do I want my audience to know?
Content creators must be aware that story telling has moved from one way storytelling to dynamic storytelling. Consumers are avidly sharing branded content. The key is to share your branded content not just through social media but with all types of digital tools and platforms. For more on dynamic storytelling check out this video on how Coca-Cola is leveraging its brand across the media landscape.
When crafting content remember that writing is intended to be read by others, with minds different from your own.
Getting the most out of your language and using persuasion involves establishing credibility, framing your goals along side of those who you are intending to persuade, using vivid language and to tie these all together in a way that connects emotionally with your audience.