I have recently been asked by one of my advanced students to explain my article writing strategy. This was particularly in reference to an article and email that was packed with a huge amount of persuasion tactics as demonstration, teaching aid and to motivate the reader. This article will give you my personal step by step process.
NLP Persuasion The Dark Arts
I am in the middle of writing up my notes deconstructing a new Black Book Persuasion Skills Course. In the middle of this I am asked to deconstruct how I write articles and it occurred to me that articles are another form of presentation, that some of the tools and techniques I use for presentations are just as usefully demonstrated with articles and that writing this up for the product would add another layer of value. So I added a whole new section in my Presentation Skills Course. And I felt it was worth sharing some of it here with you.
Before we start, here is the FaceBook comment from my advanced group that started this off.
Rintu, great article! I’m curious to know how you go about structuring your articles (or this article?).
1) decide outcome for reader.
2) decide “seeded” concepts
Also your process for article planning the same basis for a conversation management model?
Obviously with conversation you’re dealing with interaction too.
The other thing you need before looking at this article is to see the email and the original article that I am referring to. Here is a link to the email. You can get to the article from that or you can read it here. To get the most from this article you should at least have a scan through both the previous email and the connected article. So click through and start with the email when you click through this link.
The following is a section of my new Persuasion Skills Black Book of Hypnotic Presentation Techniques Deconstructed that should be out in the next couple of weeks. It refers directly to the email and article that we linked to above.
Deconstructing My Article Writing Strategy
Before we start with how I specifically write articles let’s start with some of the frames I am operating with.
My philosophy is to teach, demonstrate and train hypnotic persuasion techniques through my articles. I am also obviously in business and all of my articles are aimed at selling to the audience. I normally go for a “if you want more of this good stuff then you can find out more through this link to a specific sales page” approach.
I also like writing articles on multiple levels with easy stuff for the novice to get to grips with and some patterns thrown in for people to discover and then some deeper stuff for my advanced students to pick up on.
The Idea to Outcomes
The idea to write this article started a few days earlier when I was playing with patterns with a few people that knew what I was doing and despite my every effort refused to join in. When I quizzed one of the afterwards they told me they had put themselves in that double bind…won’t do it until I can do it.
As an experienced trainer I have met this many times before across lots of different contexts and have explored it a lot with various different people. And for the most it is a fear of failure thing that is going on.
So the first part of my process is to look at what I am trying to achieve. Just as you have seen me do and teach I start off with the question,
“What do I want my (in this case) readers to be saying or doing at the end of my article that they weren’t at the beginning?”
And the follow up question,
“How do they benefit?”
My answers to these were:
- Play with some language patterns. This outcome has two bits, let go of the fear of failure and then actually use some patterns.
- Buy a product (I just picked the one best suited to the content we were discussing) – the benefit is to develop more of the skills they see displayed in the article.
- For my advanced students I wanted them to deconstruct some of the patterns involved in the article.
My Template Article Formula
I write most of my articles to a general formula. I tell my readers:
- What the article is about
- The benefits, what they will gain from reading it and open some loops
- The content including theory, practical applications and examples
- Any exceptions, ways to practice and how they can find out more (opening more loops where appropriate and closing any that need closing)
If you have been looking at 4MAT then you will recognise this formula as part of that.
From this you can see that the article almost writes itself based on the formula and the objectives. It is obvious I need to supply a quick, easy and flexible pattern if I want people to run off and start playing. So I picked a pattern and set up the end of the article to demonstrate it.
I then need to deal with the fear of failure thing. The obvious way to covertly deal with a fear is to reframe it as something else. So I needed to bring up the fear and then define it as something else. Again my experience kicked in. I’ve dealt with a lot of fear of failure that was installed from school and this business about success is built on the back of failure is a common personal development truism.
That now just turns in to a sequence of internal representations that I am recanting for the reader. It is true that I am not going to hit everyone with this metaphor but that is a chance you have to take when working covertly with groups…particularly in writing.
So now what I need is some benefit statements and a healthy dose of open loops and reasons for the reader to start / continue reading. My first paragraph is usually as short as I can get it. And is a frame for the article with a benefit statement. This is more because that is the snippet that would be on the front page of the site or in Google when the page is indexed.
The next couple of paragraphs are where I properly develop the consequences of not dealing with the issue and or the benefits of reading further.
Doing the Writing Proper
I now have the article in note form. I have the sections in order with why and what they are supposed to achieve. This next bit is the secret sauce, the one thing that is the edge that I use that makes my articles different.
I then do a perceptual positions exercise to do the writing. I imagine myself looking out through the eyes of my ideal reader watching and listening to me speaking. I am not a proper grammatical writer. All I try to evoke is the idea that I am in the room talking with you directly. I then write the article based on what my ideal reader needs me to say or do for them to get the outcomes that I had set at the beginning.
Adding some Hypnotic Language
Now that the building blocks of the article are written I can start playing with it. In this particular case I have given them a language pattern for them to use. Obviously then I want to demonstrate that pattern as many times as I can. So I went back through the article adding the pattern in as often as I can in as many different variations as I can.
Constructing the Email
The primary purpose of the email is to frame the article and get people to read it. I often write a slightly different email for different groups of people.
For example if the subject relates to Job Hunting my email to the people that have bought my Job Hunting products might get a straight forward, “Look at this article because it will help you find a job” email.
People that have not bought my job hunting books and courses might get an email that links the content to other areas of persuasion.
My advanced students may get an email that highlights certain persuasion techniques that I have covertly embedded in to the article. It might be how I motivated the reader to continue reading or use the skill, it might be why I decided to explain the tool in the particular way that I did, or it might be a competition for them to find as many patterns in the article.
In all three cases though the object is to get people to read the article, preferably several times.
Shock Horror Probe Headlines Matter
Before I can convince you to read the article I need to convince you to read the email. That means I need a headline that hooks your interest enough to read the rest of the email. My email open rates are far higher when I use a controversial, complaining or tabloid type headlines. So I try and do this as often as I can and obviously I have a perfect opportunity with this email.
Opening Loops and Setting Frames
A wonderfully simple way of getting people to read further is to tell them what they are going to see as a sort of benefit without giving them any detail. I have lots of structures to do this and the second of my favourites is ordinals. If I say to a reader that there are four things to look out for and only list three it keeps the loop open.
I also like creating a “them and us” situation. There are readers of the article and then there’s us…the people that really know what is going on. It makes us special, clever and in the know.
With this email it was really easy to create that whole thing just by telling the reader (of the email) all the sneaky tricks I used in the article. Based on the presupposition that people on my list want to learn these tactics outlining the fact that they are all demonstrated in the article almost automatically means people will click through and read.
I don’t usually sell direct in emails but this multilevel learning is the approach I use with the Persuasion Skills on Steroids Deconstructed Course that it seemed an obvious thing to do.
PS What About the Ending?
I loved the PS on this email. The post script is one of the most read parts of letters and emails. This one presupposes that I was doing something covert in the email. It is calculated to get the reader (of the email) to reread, ponder and analyse the email as much as the article.
So that’s it. This is how I think about and construct articles and emails.
And Now Over to You
If you have any written work that people see now might be an appropriate time to review it in the light of what you have just read. If you present using slides or visual aids you might want to start thinking about how you might use them to draw people in, frame what you are going to say or the other way round use what you are saying to frame a view of what they see on the slide.
Persuasion Skill Black Book of Hypnotic Presentations Techniques Deconstructed
That was an extract of the course just dealing with written presentations. The main bulk of the course is about developing your face to face presentation skills and deconstructing all the persuasive elements that I have built in to the course. It should be ready in the next couple of weeks. But this is a high level course. I will not be offering it to the public generally. To get it you will need to have been through some of my material already. The best course to prepare you would be the Persuasion Skills on Steroids Deconstructed as they are both constructed in a similar fashion.