Language of Persuasion

The goal of most media messages is to persuade the audience to believe or do something. Hollywood movies use expensive special effects to make us believe that what we’re seeing is real. News stories use several techniques – such as direct quotation of identified sources – to make us believe that the story is accurate.

Persuaders use a variety of techniques to grab our attention, to establish credibility and trust, to stimulate desire for the product or policy, and to motivate us to act (buy, vote, give money, etc.)

We call these techniques the "language of persuasion.”

Learning the language of persuasion is an important media literacy skill. Once you know how media messages try to persuade you to believe or do something, you’ll be better able to make your own decisions.

This six-page download provides descriptions of 40 techniques of persuasion divided into beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels, for ages 7 to adult. It is useful for students, teachers, or anyone who would like to learn more about how the media persuades us on a daily basis. Language of Persuasion is available for download for $3 to help support the work of Media Literacy Project.