Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Rhythm of Persuasion

A properly persuasive writer writes in such a way that people are persuaded without knowing what you're doing. People have to trust you, think you virtuous, and so you have to show you have the facts and that you've done your homework. People have to see your logic. People have to feel deep sympathy and empathy and love and hate with you. You have to paint a picture, make the picture vivid, full of things and people they can visualize. You have to tell a story.

I once presented a hypothesis about the nature of the universe and human nature to the Dallas Philosopher's Forum. I had only a week to write, prepare, persuade. I organized the theories I'd been working on for years into a world-hypothesis I knew would be quite controversial. After all, this was to be presented to philosophers, a group that's hardly known to all agree on everything (or anything). But I decided to use something from my bag of neuro-literary tricks. I wrote the presentation in iambic rhythm so the rhythm would sync up their brains and make my words persuasive well beyond the words' abilities. Thus, in a group that always questioned everyone, I did not receive a single challenge; rather, I received responses asking me the implications my ideas would have on art and literature, on ethics and society. So primed were all the brains there in the audience, my answers met with general agreement.

If you found this post to be persuasive well beyond what you perhaps, reflecting, think it should, perhaps that is because I told a story. And I wrote this post with rhythms most iambic.