Passion, meaning and critical thinking are just some of the key elements in the art of persuasion, says young entrepreneur Eloise Hall.
Eloise has certainly mastered this through founding her social enterprise, Taboo, which tackles the issue of menstrual poverty.
On episode 24 of The Teacher’s Tool Kit for Literacy, Eloise joined literacy experts Phil and Sharon Callen to discuss the different persuasive techniques she’s used in her journey and how they can be translated in the classroom.
But the overarching message was the true purpose and driver of persuasion – meaning, passion and feeling that you’re doing something worthwhile.
“I think that people with passion often pull greater results because they’re doing it for a reason that’s beyond what they would generally be used to, or they’re putting all of that passion into work that they want to contribute for a reason beyond themselves,” Eloise said.
Sharon said teachers wrestle with this challenge.
“The big question that as teachers we can be thinking about is what is persuasion really for. And when we think what is persuasion for, then we can think that it isn’t just about persuading for our own needs, but that we can persuade for bigger things and for change,” Sharon said.
This passion can arise in the classroom through the right selection of literature, with Sharon alluding to an example from a Year 4 class who responded strongly to the book ‘Our Australian Girl: Meet Grace’.
“The story is really about having the second chance, but the students so felt her dilemma, and so felt the injustice as children a couple of years older than [Grace] would have been, and they were so in her shoes that quite spontaneously, they wanted to write to the powers, even though this is a fictional story, to argue why she shouldn’t be transported,” Sharon said.
“So, we can talk about, should we not have uniforms? Should we have smooth or crunchy peanut butter? But the children are actually really wanting to do the critical thinking about bigger issues.
“So having the voice and having the passion to fight for that. The teacher just said, ‘Oh my goodness. I didn’t even bring up that we would do this, they had a reason and then they started writing these letters of persuasion’.”
This insight also highlighted the ability for students of all ages, including five to six year olds in reception, to develop an opinion on bigger issues and think critically about persuasive communication.
“For our young ones, we can certainly be just getting them thinking about what their opinion is even about lots of things,” Sharon said.
“[For example] Sarah and her Year 1 class had read a whole lot of books about different animals and then wrote their own brochures to convince their parents why they wanted a particular animal as a pet.
“There was such purpose behind it, even though it was about them. But we’re talking five and six year olds here writing their little pieces, and not only what they wanted as a pet, but as a family, why would this make a great family pet?
“That’s what we want for our students – to enable them to do the critical thinking, because that’s how we can persuade, and acknowledge that it’s that kind of thinking that gets us to be more powerful in both our understanding and in our feeling and in the way that we can talk about issues with others.”
But whatever the meaning of your persuasion, Eloise and Sharon emphasised the importance of believing in your purpose.
“The most effective method of persuasion for us (at Taboo) is the assertiveness that we were dedicated to our company and we weren’t gonna walk out the door just cause we were a bit upset,” Eloise said.
Sharon added: “That assertiveness is another strength of persuasion, for we have to be confident in our in our own mission and in our own message.”
Finally, Eloise’s journey highlighted the many forms of persuasive communication, which stem well beyond writing, and the importance of matching it to the right audience.
“Persuasion can be in the form of a story, it can be in the form of poetry, it could be in the form of a film … so much of it is presentation, and so much of it can be through marketing kinds of strategies,” Sharon said.
Eloise added: “For any type of writing or presentation, you need to be clear on the audience, clear on the why, and stick to that … knowing what the audience wants when you’re persuading is key, and knowing the right information as well.”