June 28, 2009

Attention, Interest, Desire, Action (AIDA)

Attention, interest, sesire, action (or AIDA) is an effective technique for persuasion.

The ability to persuade is a very useful skill in business. The ability to write effective persuasuve messages will help you significantly in your career (which is why argumentative and persuasuve essays are quite often assigned in schools and colleges). You might want to persuade your supervisor you are experienced enough for promotion or argue for a certain point in your team. The following AIDA principle will help you understand the nature of persuation and help you write effective argumentative essay papers at school and persuasive messages at work.


  1. Show that you know your audience and its concerns.
  2. Formulate and tailor your statements so that they do not sound like bribes or suspicious high-pressure sales
  3. Introduce a benefit for your audience
  4. Effective introduction: think of a statement that your audience will agree with, sincere request for help, rhetorical questions, list what has been done or undone to solve the problem

Interest and Desire

  1. When delivering your message, make sure you let the readers know why you are writing
    • State the benefits that the audience will receive
    • Explain in detail why you ask them to do something
  2. Describe the action or the object in question in its entirety
  3. Include all facts necessary to convince your audience that participation will be easy, important, enjoyable, benefitial
  4. In your request for contribution, make sure you explain the facts, problems, suggestions, as well as roles of all participants, including the audience
  5. Describe the possible direct and indirect benefits thoroughly
  6. Anticipate and provide counter arguments for possible objections
    • Acknowledge objections, and calmly show more important factors
    • If possible, state counter arguments that denounce the possible objections
    • Do not focus much on this part; do not devote more than one-third of your message (however, in some cases this section must be extended)
    • Try looking at objections from an alternate standpoint and turn them into advantages
  7. Introduce any enclosures after you have delivered the message, and explain what to do with them or what information they offer


  1. Confidently ask for audience’s cooperation
  2. Emphasize the positive results of their action
  3. Make the desired action clear and easy
  4. If applicable, include a due date for a response
  5. Avoid negative or tentative statements and only include positive and confident ones (”If you can do anything about it..” vs. “To make your contribution, …”)
  6. Link the final sentence of the message with a statement from the introduction

June 22, 2009

Journal exercises for writers

Choose three of the exercises below and write for ten minutes on each. Date and number each entry.

  1. Make an "authority" list of activities, subjects, ideas, places, people, or events you already know something about. List as many topics as you can. If your reaction is, "I'm not really anauthority on anything," then imagine you've met someone from another school, state, country, or historical period. Relative to that audience, what are you an "authority" on?
  2. Choose one activity, sport, or hobby that you do well and that others might admire you for. In the form of a letter to a friend, describe the steps or stages of the process through which you acquired that skill or ability.
  3. In two or three sentences, answer the following question: "I have trouble writing because..."
  4. In a few sentences, answer the following question: "In my previous classes and from my own writing experience, I've learned that the three most important rules about writing are..."
  5. Describe your own writing rituals. When, where, and how do you write best?
  6. Write an open journal entry. Describe events from your day, images, impressions, bits of conversation — anything that catches your interest. Read the following essay by Roy Hoffman for possible ideas for open journal entries.

June 12, 2009

Writing about observations

Observing is essential to good writing. Whether you are writing in a journal, doing a laboratory report for a science class, dashing off a memo at work, or writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper, keen observation is essential. Writing or verbalizing what you see helps you discover and learn more about your environment. Sometimes your purpose is limited to yourself: You observe and record to help you understand your world or yourself better. At other times, your purpose extends to a wider audience: You want to share what you have learned with others, to help them learn as well. No matter who your audience is or what your subject may be, however, your task is to see and to help your readers see.

Of course, observing involves more than just "seeing." Good writers draw on all their senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing. In addition, however, experienced writers also notice what is absent, or not there. The smell of food that should be coming from the kitchen but isn't. A friend who usually is present but now is absent. The absolute quiet in the air that precedes an impending storm. Writers should also look for changes in their subject — from light to dark, from rough to smooth, from bitter to sweet, or from noise to sudden silence. Good writers learn to use their previous experience and their imagination to draw comparisons and create images. Does a sea urchin look and feel like a pincushion with the pins stuck in the wrong way? Does the room feel as cramped and airless as the inside of a microwave oven? Finally, good writers write from a specific point of view or role: a student describing basic laws of physics or an experienced worker in a mental health clinic describing the clientele.

Depending on the purpose and the audience, writing from observation can be relatively objective, as when you record what is actually, demonstrably there; or it can be more subjective, as when you suggest how you feel, think, or react to a subject. A writer might describe a bicycle objectively as "a secondhand 1984 blue 10-speed Trek, with a 23-inch frame, 27-inch wheels, a Sun Tour DL deranleur, SR crank, and Dia Compe brakes." A writer might need to communicate that objective information to a prospective buyer or an employee in a cycle repair shop. On the other hand, the writer may wish to communicate the bicycle's subjective feel — how easily it pedals or how it flows like water down the street. In most situations, however, good writers describe their subject both objectively and subjectively. They use some objectivity for accuracy and specific detail and some subjectivity to suggest the value or relevance of the subject in a human environment.

The key to effective observing is to show your reader the person, place, event, or object through specific detail. Good description allows the reader to draw general conclusions based on specific detail. Rather than just telling a reader, "This bicycle has good technical components," the writer should show or describe how it feels as she rides it. If your reader is going to learn from your observations, you need to give the exact details that you learned from, not just your conclusions or generalizations. Even in writing, experience is the best teacher, so use specific details to communicate the feel, the data, the sights and sounds and smells. Whether you are a tourist describing the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, a salesperson analyzing consumer preferences for your boss, a physicist presenting data on a new supercon¬ducting material to other physicists, or a social worker putting together the details of a child abuse case, your first task is to recreate the experience, to show your readers, to make them see.