Essay Sample about Persuasion in English

Published: 2022-04-25
Essay Sample about Persuasion in English
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Communication
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1801 words
16 min read

Persuasion or convincing is present in all human communication. It is central in English, whether in the form of formal or informal communication. Persuasion has a long history dating from classical rhetoric. Rhetoric is the art of effective communication, either spoken or written. Rhetoric was the heart of classical education. It guided the competent production as well as the critical assessment of discourse in all settings. According to Aristotle, rhetoric denoted the art of identifying and applying the probable means of persuasion in a situation. For Aristotle, communication had three elements; the speaker, audience, and the speech. Rhetoric applied in the political system where the states could make decisions regarding votes. The ancient rhetorical theory focused on categorising rhetorical types, devices and purposes, some of which are still useful today. Persuasion is useful in advertisements and politics to convince the audience to follow the speaker's proposition. A speech is a powerful tool in delivering a message or telling a story. If a speaker is not careful, they can make their speech be one directional. However, if the speaker gives a persuasive speech, their anticipation is enacting a reaction in the audience. However, some people hardly get persuaded because a change of views makes individuals feel as if they were not informed or were not well informed, and need to admit that they were wrong. For a speaker to accomplish their persuading goal, they need to apply various persuasive strategies and rhetorical tools in their speech. This essay discusses persuasive strategies, rhetorical devices, and their applications.

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Persuasive Strategies

Other than knowing your audience well as a speaker, you also need to use various persuasive strategies. Persuasive strategies influence more effectively the attitudes, values, and beliefs of the audience. The strategies include ethos, logos, and pathos (Roberts, 2008). These were the three forms of rhetorical proof for Aristotle.


How the audiences perceive you as the speaker defines whether they accept or reject your suggestion. Aristotle named this component ethos, which is a Greek word related to the terms ethical and ethnic. Ethos denotes the speaker's credibility and has three dimensions: trustworthiness, dynamism, and competence. Aristotle taught speakers to emulate a good moral character, concern for the well-being of their audience and common sense (Roberts, 2008). According to Campbell and Huxman, ethos is not just an implication that as an individual you are a good individual. Instead, it implies "mirroring the characteristics that the culture or ethnic group idealizes and signifying that you choose upright moral choices concerning your affiliation within the group (ethics).

For Aristotle, competence means the speaker's expertise regarding the topic under discussion. Speakers need to know their speech's content and can deliver the content efficiently (Higgins & Walker, 2012). Trustworthiness is the degree to which the audience sees that the speaker is offering accurate and credible information in a non-manipulative manner. Views of honesty emanate from the speech's content and the speaker's personality. Dynamism denotes the degree to which the audiences perceive the speaker as outgoing and vibrant. The two components of dynamism are energy and charisma. Although there are several things that orators can do to maintain ethos in a speech, ethos assessment habitually reflects superficial first impressions which linger long even after the completion of the address.


Another way a speaker can enhance their ethos and the probability of persuading their audience is by using logos, sound arguments. Logos refers to reasoning or logic in a discussion. In persuasive speeches, the argument focuses on reasons for supporting a given statement. Use of fallacies in a speech obviously undermines the appeal of the speaker to logos (Ackrill, 2010). Speakers use logos by providing credible information to the audience and citing their sources verbally during their speech (Higgins & Walker, 2012). Cautiously choosing the supporting material which is specific, unbiased and verifiable helps the speaker appeal to logos. Additionally, the speaker can cite personal experiences and provide credentials and sources the qualifications of the information sources. Presenting a logical and rational argument is essential. However, speakers become effective persuaders by bringing in and refuting counterarguments (Burg, 2011). Highly effective persuasive messages provide two sides of the argument and show the audience why one side is superior. Compelling speakers do not leave their audience to fill blanks of the argument because this diminishes the persuasive opportunity.


Having focused on speaker's credibility and logical reasoning, there is a need to recognize the role of emotions in the persuasion process. Pathos denotes emotional appeals. This strategy draws on emotions, sympathies as well as biases of the listeners to appeal to the non-sensible side. Individuals are continually in some emotional state and therefore tapping into the feelings of the audience is vital in persuading them. A speaker who stirs emotions in the listeners gets them involved in his speech which creates more chances for persuasion and action. For example, if you someone read on a newspaper of a burglarized house, this may get their attention, but when you narrate the story as the speaker that the burgled house was yours, the emotional state of the audience changes and they will want to hear more. Effective speakers use logically convincing emotional appeals to avoid audience suspicion. Emotions, often reactionary, fade away relatively quickly once a person gets out of the provoking situation and thus lose their persuasive power quickly (Higgins & Walker, 2012). Speakers using emotional appeals should employ honed delivery skills as well as an ability to powerfully and dramatically use words. They should use cadence, repetition and vocal variety to arouse the emotions of the audience.

Rhetorical Tools

Several speakers are good when it comes to conveying information to the listeners, but how many of these speakers are interesting? Rhetoric is the skill of employing language to produce a persuasive effect. Rhetorical devices are the tools of communication that speakers use to make their opinions more unforgettable or attractive and achieve their purpose of gaining the support of their audience (German, 2010). Rhetorical tools spice speeches and presentations. Rhetoric tools include allusions and references, antithesis, direct address, imagery, metaphors and hyperbole, repetition, parallelism, and enumeration.

An allusion refers to an indirect reference to an individual, event, or literature that the orator considers essential for the speech. It explains or clarifies a complex problem and works best if kept short as well as used to refer to something the audience is familiar with. Allusions do not require lengthy explanations in clarifying a problem; they make the listener active through reflecting on the analogy and the message sticks in their mind longer. For example, a speaker may tell the audience, "Plan ahead, it was not raining when Noah built the Ark."

Antithesis stresses the difference between two concepts. The phrases' structure is usually alike in to draw the listener's attention straight to the contrast. The parallelism of expression helps in emphasizing opposition of thoughts. The sentence must indicate parallelism as well as convey a minimum of two different meanings. For instance, we should teach our children that you are not strong by bringing other individuals down, but you are strong through lifting them up. Direct address is where the speaker involves the audience by linking the topic to their lives. Direct address shows that the reader cares about the audience and the speech is less intimidating. For example, we all are aware how school bullying is!

A metaphor denotes a speech figure comprising of an indirect contrast where a term or phrase customarily applied for one item applies to a different one (Charteris-Black, 2011). Metaphors compare an abstract idea to a concrete one, thus making the sentences easily understood. For example, God is the bedrock of this country. Imagery is the use of figurative language in speech so that it appeals to our senses (Atkinson, 1984). Imagery requires the aid of metaphor, simile, onomatopoeia, and personification to attract the body senses effectively. For example, the fragrance of spring roses made her joyful. On the other hand, hyperbole is a deliberate exaggeration that the speaker uses to draw attention to the message they want to emphasize. For example, I was so hungry that I could eat an elephant. Concerning repetition, the speaker repeats words or phrases throughout the text to stress particular facts or ideas. For example, that tutorial is boring, boring, boring. Parallelism comes in when the speaker adds antithesis or repetition or other devices to the speech. Successive clauses or sentences have a similarity in their structuring. This similarity makes it easier for the listener to be attentive to the message. For example, say it to me, and I disremember, educate me, and I will remember.

Application in a Speech Extract; Donald Trump's Inaugural Address

In his inaugural address, Trump earned the attention of his audience. Trump makes two subtle allusions when he says "A nation exists to serve its citizens, irrespective of whether the government is controlled by the individuals or not." He used antithesis when he said that the political class did not serve the interests of the public as it should: "Washington prospered, but the public did not share in its wealth. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country." There are also instances where he uses direct address. Trump begins by addressing the dignitaries watching his speech: "Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world." The speech uses metaphor as well. Trump said "For too long, a small group in our nation's capital reaped the rewards of government" referring to greedy politicians. He uses a hyperbolic metaphor when he uses the phrase "This American carnage" describing the decaying the American economy and society (Blake, 2017). Repetition is another rhetoric tool in the speech. Trump repeatedly uses the word "protection". He also applies parallelism, "Their successes have not been your successes, and their achievements have not been your achievements."


Persuasion is all about the speaker. As a speaker, you are probably trying to persuade somebody, or they are convincing you. Speakers should strive to appeal to persuasive strategies; ethos, logos, and pathos. Building a speech primarily on ethos may lead the listeners to think that the speaker is self-centered. A speech made of statistics and facts appealing to logos can result in overload of information. Speakers who primarily depend on appeals to pathos could be overly biased, passionate, or incapable of seeing others' viewpoints. The use of rhetorical tools such as allusions, repetition, metaphors, parallelism, hyperbole, and direct address makes the speaker effective in addressing the audience. They help emphasize the message and draw the listeners' attention. The use of effective speech skills will make your content memorable to the audience.


Ackrill J. L. (2010). Essays on Plato and Aristotle, Oxford University Press, USA.

Atkinson, M. (1984). Our Masters' Voices. Routledge.

Blake, A. (2017). Donald Trump's full inauguration speech transcript, annotated. The Washington Post.

Burg, B...

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