Persuasion refers to the process of influencing another person’s beliefs and actions. People who are highly persuasive tend to have a range of highly-tuned interpersonal communication skills.
Effective persuasion requires is also contextual. This means that you need to know when to implement different persuasive techniques. For example, a doctor might be more persuasive if he highlights his medical authority, rather than using the bandwagon effect (‘oh, everyone does it’).
Similarly, in marketing contexts, advertisers have realized appeal to emotions is more effective than appeal to logic.
Below are twenty-seven persuasion examples. These examples build upon the six different types of persuasion in this article.
1. Pathos (Emotional appeal): This type of persuasion plays on the emotions of the audience in order to persuade them to take a particular action or belief. For instance, an advertisement for a charity organization that shows images of starving children eliciting feelings of sympathy and compassion from the viewers might convince them to donate.
2. Logos (Appeal to Reasoning): Using logical reasoning to present an argument as rational and sound is generally effective when trying to persuade people who are very intellectually engaged in a debate or topic. This involves presenting facts and statistics in an organized manner so that the audience can arrive at clear conclusions.
3. Appeal to Authority: This persuasive technique is used by highlighting the authority or expertise of the person making the claim rather than exploring the logic of the claim itself. It may, for example, involve citing well-known sources that have the authority or expertise on the subject matter or simply claiming your own expertise (e.g. “well, I’m a doctor, so I know.”). For instance, a physician might promote medications or treatment options because they’re experts who know what is best for patients’ health.
4. Bandwagon Technique: The bandwagon technique persuades people to act or think in a certain way because “everyone else is doing it.” Companies that are going viral might employ the bandwagon method by encouraging people to start using their product, app, etc. or else they won’t be keeping up with the latest trends or fashions.
5. Appeal to Scarcity: This type of persuasion appeals to our natural instinct of wanting things that are scarce or limited. Marketers sometimes use this method by suggesting there is a limited supply of their products/services, making them seem more valuable and desirable. This can be done, for example, with a limited-time discount that forces people to make a decision as soon as possible so as not to miss out.
6. Appeal to Fear: This involves playing on people’s fears in order to persuade them to take certain actions or believe a specific idea. For example, an insurance company ad may depict how dangerous it could be if you don’t have coverage, eliciting fear of possible outcomes, and convincing someone to purchase.
7. Appeal to Belonging: A sense of belongingness motivates people to want acceptance and recognition. An example of this method in advertising could be— if you use our product, then you’ll become part of an exclusive community of individuals who share your values. In the playground, it may take the form of convincing someone to wear a certain fashion of clothing because that’s what the other people in your clique are wearing.
8. Appeal to Ethics or Morality (Ethos): A politician might convince someone to support their policies by arguing that the policy is ethical. It might not directly help the people who are convinced to support it, but the argument that it’s a noble ideal and will be the most ethical course of action might be enough to convince people.
9. Testimonials: This type of persuasion relies on the testimony of someone who has had direct experience with the product, service, event, etc. The first-person, often folksy, experience helps people feel as if the argument has more validity than if it came from the person who had most to gain (i.e. you’d trust a friend’s testimony about a car over a salesperson’s). This can even work with job interviews, where you provide references who can give a first-person testimony convincing the potential employer that you’re a good worker.
10. Humor: Humor can diffuse conflict and make people more inclined to like you and be convinced by your statements. For example, humor in advertising can be used to make viewers develop a positive feeling toward a brand. Humor can include satire, irony or parody to elicit smiles, showcase a brand personality, or promote engagement with targeting demographics.
11. Incentives: Incentives can sweeten a deal and persuade people to come on board. For example, discounts, coupons or warranties for purchasing goods/services can make people finally pull out their wallets and make that purchase. Sometimes, this approach will show consumers how they save money by buying two-for-one products, taking advantage of early-bird discounts, etc., thereby making them feel like they are getting more value for their money.
12. Repetition: By repeating a message, phrase or slogan over and over again, it is more likely to become ingrained in the mind of a listener or viewer and eventually sway their opinion. This is why radio advertisements repeatedly play their annoyingly catchy jingles to you!
13. Celebrity endorsement: Similar to authority figures, getting a celebrity who appeals to your desired target audience can produce fantastic results if they endorse your brand or product. This is why influencers, for example, command high prices for plugging a product in their Instagram or YouTube stories.
14. Storytelling: This type of persuasion uses compelling storytelling to produce a sense of affinity with the audience or touching them emotionally. When people tell stories, they can develop perceived closeness which can make you a more trusted person. Take the example of podcasters, who tell stories right into the ears of listeners, and become highly trusted and even have people develop parasocial relationships with them.
15. Flattery or Complimenting the Audience: While this approach may seem easygoing/comedic for most kinds of content, when done correctly it conveys warmth—often implying how good it would feel for audiences if only they’d “come aboard.” For instance, fragrance ads typically stress how important it is for people to take care in representing themselves properly via appearance because everyone deserves nothing but the best in terms of looking/smelling good themselves too as well as truly shining brightly in casual & professional settings!
16. Vivid Language or Imagery: This persuasive method evokes feelings, sights, sounds and tastes by using vivid imagery in words or visuals thereby engulfing an audience fully into the storyline at hand. This is why some brands invest large budgets into creating excellent cinematic advertisements that draw the viewer in.
17. In-group/Out-group Persuasion: Categorizing people into different groups based on pre-existing stereotypes can be convincing, even if it’s not particularly ethical! It could promote unfair prejudices and social divides unnecessarily. However, it can also be very useful in promoting valid pride in your community, such as when a company employs patriotism in their adverts.
18. Contrast: The contrast technique is all about showing a comparison between two things that will make one option appear more desirable than the other. By highlighting the benefits of one product, idea, or behavior over another, people see a clear and better choice being presented to them (often, creating a false dilemma in the mind of the person you’re trying to convince).
19. Social Proof: This type of persuasion appeals to our conformity bias – that is, our natural tendency to confirm with what others are doing or saying so we can avoid standing apart from societal norms. When people see evidence or examples of others’ endorsement or approval of something, they become more likely to follow suit.
20. Slogans: A good slogan can be very memorable and create an association with a cause or product line; it becomes its own advertising capital in a sense. Aimed at triggering feelings when heard (e.g., Nike’s “Just do it!”), these phrases are catchy and often repeated as part of brand identity; effective slogans reinforce memorability for target audiences thus impacting future decision-making around products/services offered by such brands.
21. Rhetorical Questions: Using questions to lead an audience towards a particular conclusion without inducing any actual response (because we really should know what are asking) is persuasive because they tend to focus people’s attention on obvious dilemmas that the product or perspective resolves.
22. Simplicity: In short messages, using basic language enhances recall but also helps prevent the message from being lost in translation due to complexity (both grammatically and semantically). It’s essential that your message hits home succinctly without confusion, especially when you don’t have much time to convince someone. Sometimes, this approach relies upon black and white thinking to achieve effect.
23. Anecdotes: Personal stories and experiences are relatable as people tend to remember stories more easily than factual data alone or pure statistical data. Anecdotes give your argument humanity, either so others might identify with/learn from that experience or see themselves as being like you.
24. Either-Or: Using elements of contrast (outlined earlier), his persuasive technique is about presenting only two choices to an audience where there are actually more options available, resulting in a feeling of “I have no choice but to choose one.” This sort of binary thinking makes one alternative feel much more preferable than the other by positioning it as the clear and obvious choice for individuals.
25. Hyperbole: Exaggeration can sometimes come across as insincere or over-the-top, but can at times be employed judiciously to great effect. Employed rightly e.g., highlighting the most attention-grabbing examples that support your argument, can convince people to take action or change their beliefs.
26. Metaphors and Analogies: Metaphors help make complex ideas easier to understand by relating them to something familiar. Generally, the metaphor should tie your abstract concept to a more common analogy that audiences may already understand, hence making subjects clearer and simpler to grasp.
27. Projection: Projecting future outcomes based on a person’s decisions can help them to visualize what each decision will lead to. We see this, for example, in wistful advertisements about cruises and holidays. People sitting on sandy beached bathing in the sun is projecting what a person will be able to get if they make the holiday purchase. Envisioning happier future prospects is also common among politicians who promise sunny days ahead if you only vote for them.
28. Exclusivity: This technique is often used in high-end advertising to persuade people to spend a high premium on a product because it provides a degree of status or class to have it. A typical example is Ferrari, who limit the number of vehicles they produce to increase the price and perceived social value of the vehicles. Similarly, advertisements on television often use this method subtly by insinuating that purchasing their products will ensure being part of a particular desirable social class or trend.
29. Straw man Method: This persuasion technique convinces people against accepting the arguments of an opponent by exacerbating its worst features and turning it into a caricature of itself. The term comes from the metaphor of pointing out a window at a straw scarecrow and trying to convince someone it’s the real thing. Similarly, the point of this argument is to convince people that your opponent is someone they’re not. This is a highly convincing example of negative persuasion, but also ethically questionable.
30. Steel man Method: The steel man technique of persuasion involves understanding and presenting the strongest possible version of an opponent’s argument before refuting it. This approach demonstrates respect for the opponent’s position, fosters mutual understanding, and makes one’s own counter-argument more credible and compelling.
Of the above persuasion skills, a successful debater or marketer would pick and choose the right ones for the right situation. Select from this list the ones that appeal most to you for your own debates or personal situation. You won’t be able to perfectly apply each example of persuasion straight away, but with practice, your persuasive skills will slowly improve.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]