How to order your ideas when writing to persuade

Clare Lynch
A free video tutorial from Clare Lynch
Cambridge University writing tutor & professional copywriter
4.4 instructor rating • 11 courses • 116,592 students

Lecture description

A simple formula for structuring your work when writing pitches, proposals and other persuasive pieces.

Learn more from the full course

Business Writing For Busy People

Write clearly and compellingly - for colleagues, clients and other key stakeholders

48:28 of on-demand video • Updated November 2020

  • Work out what you want to say quickly and painlessly
  • Craft clear, concise, compelling business documents - from emails to reports
  • Grab and keep your readers' attention with powerful messages
  • Structure your writing for maximum impact
  • Achieve a professional tone of voice in your writing
  • Identify and eliminate tech talk and off-putting business jargon
English We've seen how the most effective business writing compels your reader to take action, which is why you'll often want to lead with your 'what', the action you want your reader to take after reading. But sometimes to get your readers to take action it can be more powerful to lead with their 'why?', the 'what's in it for me?' factor. One way of doing that is to use a formula called NOSE. NOSE stands for needs, outcome, solution, and evidence. The NOSE formula gives you a way of structuring a piece and by addressing each of these elements in order you're going to give your reader a reason to act. Let's look more closely at each one, starting with 'needs'. Needs on your readers pains. The problems or business issues they face. This is where you grab your readers attention by demonstrating you know where they're coming from. The outcome represents your readers gains, what they want to achieve by addressing their pains. This is why you show your reader how the world could look if their needs were met. It's about creating in your reader the feeling that change is both desirable and possible. To get these needs and outcomes down on paper you'll need to listen to your reader and write down what they say. Often it's a case of quoting the words back them. We'll take a look at an example in a moment. But first let's take a quick look at the next element of NOSE, the solution. This is your recommendation. What you propose is the best way to meet the reader's needs and deliver the desired outcome. Often it will be your own service or product. Finally we have the evidence. This is the proof that will convince your reader that your product or service is the best solution. The NOSE formula works particularly well for sales pitches. You may also find it useful for structuring a blog post about your product or service. But I find it particularly useful when a client approaches me and asks me to put together a proposal for some corporate training. In that instance I always start with the client's needs. For example I'll open the proposal like this. You have approached Doris & Bertie to design and deliver a writing course for up to 10 people. Now notice I don't have the proposal with anything about us, or how great we are, or what we offer. That comes later. Next I'll talk about what the client wants to achieve with the training. For example, you've told us you would like to be able to transform dull, lifeless, accountancy speak into something more readable and compelling. Now here I'm pretty much quoting the client back to them word for word. And that makes them feel listened to and like we truly understand their problem and what they're seeking to achieve. Notice that so far it's all been about you the client, not us the supplier. No self-congratulatory marketing guff, just the client's own problem in their own words. And only once that's covered will I move to the solution, our recommendation. For example, we recommend two bespoke workshops a week or two apart. Participants would be asked to submit examples of their own writing for incorporation into the training materials. Here I'm setting our company apart by outlining what's special about our training. It's bespoke nature. And that's to allay any fears that it won't be relevant to the clients day to day work. Finally no proposal is complete without evidence. So every proposal template will include a trainer's biog, contact details the two referees, and a handful of client testimonials. So remember, to win your reader over just remember NOSE. Needs, outcome, solution, and evidence.