Cancel This Session

An application activity involves supplying participants with copies of a job aid for performing a specific procedure. This application activity incorporates a job aid on persuasive writing.


During the first round, participants independently write a short piece suggesting that the training session be canceled. During the second round, teams of participants use a job aid to jointly critique a randomly-selected piece of writing. During the third round, the teams rewrite this piece to make it more persuasive.


To write short persuasive pieces.


Minimum: 4
Maximum: 30
Best: 12 to 30

Time Requirement

30 to 60 minutes


Job aid: How To Write Persuasively


  • Paper and pencil
  • Timer
  • Whistle


Copying machine (If you don't have access to a copying machine, see the Adjustments section after the description of the activity.)


Give the writing assignment. Ask participants to write a short essay (of less than a page) on why this training activity should be canceled. Announce a time limit of 10 minutes.

Organize teams. If participants are seated around tables, each table becomes a team. Move a few people around so each team has about the same number of members. Organize two to six teams, each with two to five members.

Distribute the job aid. Give a copy of How To Write Persuasively to each participant. Ask participants to study the handout and think about which items they violated in writing their essay.

Make copies of randomly selected essays. While participants are studying the handout, collect all the essays from each table. From each of these sets, randomly select one essay and make enough photocopies for all participants.

Conduct the critique session. Distribute copies of the essay from each table to the members of the next table. (The essay from the last table goes to the first table.) Ask the team members at each table to work jointly and evaluate the essay, using the items in the job aid. Encourage participants to mark up sections of the essay that show the implementation or the violation of each item.

Present the critiques. Ask each team to present its evaluative critique of the selected essay. Give copies of the essay (previously made) to all participants so they can follow along with the critique. Repeat the procedure with each team until all selected essays have been critiqued.

Revise the essays. Thank the teams for their critiques. Now ask each team to rewrite the essay they critiqued. Announce a 10-minute time limit.

Distribute revised essays. After 10 minutes, collect the revised essays from each table. Reassure the team members that it does not matter if the essay is not completely revised. Send someone to make photocopies of the revised essays while you discuss the principles of persuasive writing with the participants. Distribute copies of the revised essays and invite participants to compare it with the original version at their own leisure.


If you don't have access to a copying machine, don't worry. Give the original copy of a randomly selected essay from each table to the participants at the next table. Ask them to mark up the copy with their evaluative comments. Later, ask participants to work from this marked-up copy to rewrite the essay.

How To Write Persuasively

  1. Clearly communicate a specific proposal.
  2. Summarize your proposal in a brief and easy-to-remember sentence.
  3. Brainstorm an extensive list of reasons in support of your proposal. Choose a few strong reasons that will appeal to your readers.

  4. Present the selected reasons with supporting information that will persuade the readers to agree with you.
  5. Use a combination of personal and factual information to present your arguments.
  6. Think about objections that your readers may have.
  7. Establish a common ground between you and the people who may oppose your proposal.
  8. State the other side's arguments. Point out why they are reasonable but your arguments are more reasonable.
  9. Begin with an attention-getting opening paragraph.
  10. Briefly explain why people should listen to you. Establish that you are a credible and trustworthy person.
  11. Use a conversational tone that appeals your readers.
  12. Organize your writing in a logical manner.
  13. Use language that appeals to the readers' emotions.
  14. Use many short paragraphs, each with a side heading.
  15. End in an interesting way, restating your proposal, and calling for action.