Good Persuasion: Who, What, To Whom Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Message, Persuasion, Rhetoric, Audience, Public Relations, People, Trust, Knowledge

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2023/02/22

“In evaluating persuasion we need to take into account where the message comes from, what the message contains, and the intended audience”, states Feenstra (2013). The source of message, the content this message has and the target subject whom this message concern constitute three most important elements of persuasion analysis. By understanding their interrelations and mutual influence, one can gain perfect social psychology knowledge, develop persuasion skills and be able to influence public opinion.
People tend to believe people who look and sound the way that proves that they can be trusted. Sometimes the audience cannot even explain why the speaker has so much power over them and why they trust him or her that much. Lots of factors contribute to such attitude, but what is obvious is the fact that charisma and perfect speaking skills are very important in persuasion. Credibility, likeability and physical attractiveness invoke positive feelings in people, thus they are more likely to believe and to follow. People admire confident and trustful leaders. Those who appear unattractive or angry can hardly persuade the audience because of the prejudice people have in advance.
Alan Fairweather (n.d.) offers seven characteristics of successful persuader. In his point of view, persuader must believe in him or herself and especially in what they talk about. If they fail to believe themselves, they will not be able to persuade the audience. The persuader must be enthusiastic. Passionate and emotional people often look more persuasive because they really support the message they try to deliver. This is closely interrelated with the issue of being energetic and giving this energy to everybody around you. Successful persuader should also possess knowledge about the issue he or she talks about. The more data he or she has, the easier he or she can explain, the more successful he or she is in persuasion. Being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes is another important feature of a talented persuader. He or she must possess empathy and being a psychologist, because only by knowing and understanding people he or she will find a way to cooperate with them and to lead them. Persuasion will be successful if a person is persistent and does not give up on the first no. “Persist and persist – but do it nicely!” this is the motto suggested by Fairweather (n.d.). The last characteristic is consistency. Persuader should remember that everything he or she says counts and can have some effects in the future.
The message may present only one side or both sides of the problem. It depends on the persuader’s knowledge about the issue and the possible effects. Two-side approach in presenting arguments usually builds solid trust and credibility between persuader and the audience as people believe that he or she provides them with facts and possible outcomes but they are left to judge. People can be easily influenced by emotions which persuader tries to invoke in them. Negative appeals based on fear are commonly used. Persuader tells about negative effects but also provides information how they can be avoided. This approach to message is effective only if the recommendations for reducing fear are provided. Framing, narratives and rational appeals also direct the audience’s attention in the needed way and serve as proofs for the persuader’s statement. The message should also contain the acknowledgement of each person’s contribution. This increases attention that it will receive.
Speaking about the message, it is worth mentioning that it should be well-organized and well-thought. Everything the communicator says influence the audience. Thus, words and their sequence must be analyzed; speech must be well-written. It is persuader’s responsibility to find out more about the target in order to speak about things that are known by people addressed. The message must be presented in modern language with notions of humor. Interaction between persuader and the audience is highly appreciated. However, one should not forget and diminish significance of the sleeper effect. The message may receive small immediate impact because the source is discounted. “But arguments from discredited sources can become more effective later, as the source and the message become disassociated from each other” (Williams, 1992). 
Another element of the persuasion analysis is the audience. All the effectiveness of persuader and message can be useless if it addresses the wrong audience. Among the key characteristics that should be studied about the audience Scott McLean (2015) mentions the size, backgrounds, gender, age, jobs, education or interests. Persuader should also estimate the awareness of the topic. It is obvious that demographic traits play important role. Gender, age, occupations form the fundamental on which the persuasion message should be based. Women tend to be more persuadable, thus persuader should use specific devices to reach the goal with “masculine” audience. Intelligence and general awareness dictate the language that should be used while addressing people. Cultural differences must be carefully studied because one simple mistake can diminish chances of persuasion dramatically by breaching trust. People with low self-esteem are usually easily persuaded than those who think highly of themselves.
The Elaboration Likelihood Model suggests that there are two “routes” to persuasion. One of them is called central: a listener chooses it only when he or she is motivated or able to do this. This requires all the characteristics of the audience and of the message to be intertwined and carefully studied. Another route is known as peripheral. A listener chooses it when he or she finds persuader attractive or believes that he or she is an expert. This route is connected with all the characteristics of the persuader. In the context of persuasion effectiveness we also can mention word-of-mouth phenomenon. Among the all above-mentioned features, in general WoM incorporates two most important: trust and better targeting (Berger, 2013). This means that the message goes directly to those who are interested in it and is accepted without any doubts because of trust. In the époque of technological progress, electronic WoM promoted this way of persuasion to the highest level because nowadays those who are needed to be persuaded, namely the audience, seek the persuader themselves using the Internet.
Consequently, it is worth emphasizing that the process of persuasion requires deep and comprehensive study as well as personal charisma of the persuader. Three elements discussed above play essential role in successful persuasion. Moreover, they are closely interrelated; no result will be achieved without paying attention to each of them. The concept of the persuader, the message and the audience completely corresponds with the EL model of persuasion that suggests two routes for a listener to choose. Each of these routes depends on the characteristics of persuader, message or target both separately and together. Moreover, the e-WoM phenomenon also possesses the most important features of persuasion process elements.


Berger, J. (2013). Is Word of Mouth Better Than Advertising? Linkedin: Pulse. Retrieved from:
Fairweather, A. (n.d.). 7 Qualities of Powerful Persuaders. Business Know-How. Retrieved from
McLean, S. (2015). Getting to Know Your Audience. In Business Communication for Success, v. 1.0. Retrieved from:
Williams, R. (1992). Lection 03 – Social Psych: Social Persuasion. Department of Sociology, University of Notre Dame. Retrieved from:

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