When you write opinion articles it is important to not antagonize your audience, which requires you to be very diplomatic in the way you present your opinions, emotions, and facts.
To antagonize someone simply means to put them on the defensive, and potentially make an enemy. When we write in such a manner, we become rude and create a hostile environment. The result can be losing your audience and credibility as a writer.
We have 5 tips for you on how to express your opinion without placing your audience on the defensive.
1. No Questions in the Headline
Avoid having a question as a headline.
The reason is simple.
When readers see a question, they automatically answer it in their minds, and the mood is set from that point on. For example, if you are writing a piece about the very controversial subject of vaccines, it is best not to title the article:
“ Do You Believe Vaccinating Your Children is Damaging to their Immune System?”
The people who are against vaccines, will answer “Yes” in their minds, so when you present your opinion on how vaccines are not harmful, for example, they will automatically be on the defensive and, even if they read your article, they will not be open to your opinion and facts you present.
When our titles are formatted as a question, readers automatically insert an answer in their minds based on their own experiences.
Always remember that everyone is reading something through the filters of their life and experience.
Avoid having your readers enter the article with their preconceived notions by choosing general headlines. In this case, a more suitable headline would be:
“A Comprehensive Look Into Vaccines”.
2. Back Your Claims with Research
To build on our previous example, we will use vaccines again to demonstrate this point.
Assuming that your article is presenting your opinion that vaccines are a must, do your research and cite your sources and references that support your opinion.
Avoid personal examples, and use proper research and published medical evidence.
To avoid putting your audience on the defensive, do some research on why people feel that vaccines are bad. Present those findings second and see if they are just opinion, or if actual evidence from the medical community exists that supports the possibility that vaccines can be harmful.
You can close the research portion by emphasizing the benefits of vaccines, and recent evidence of how unvaccinated children have ended up with potentially serious issues in the last few years.
Again this is an example.
Avoid emotion, unless it is to relate to your audience in general, and use logic and researched material to prove a point.
Do not accuse people for believing something different than you, choose to gently explain your opinion using facts.
3. Do Not Accuse
Although this point is common sense, we sometimes let emotion and even anger take over.
It is a natural human reaction to insert our emotion into our writing. Besides emotions is what makes the world go ‘round right?
However, when we write controversial articles, we should have a goal to inform the audience and not just validate our own opinions.
Therefore, it is best to avoid name calling people and accusing them of being part of the problem.
How not to accuse people?
- When you disagree with something, say it, and make sure your statement is followed by evidence and not emotion.
- Do not put your audience on the defensive by calling them names
- Use phrases such as “although I respect the opinion of …” and follow it by “ after extensive research I found that….”
- Cite your sources
- Take a moment to explain what is a credible source of information and what is fake news.
4. Put Your Best Stuff Early in the Article
Create your opinion articles by placing your best stuff at the beginning of the article, the same way you would do when you are having a conversation.
In the early 2000s, data showed that the average attention span was 12 seconds. This is how much time we allocated to anything before we decided whether or not we would continue to read the material.
More recent data shows that now our attention span is down to 8 seconds!
So put your best stuff first, grab the attention of your audience early on.
Just like in casual conversations we naturally say the most exciting thing first, to keep the interest of our friends, it is the same technique we need to employ in our writing.
So, when you are writing, think of how you talk to your friends, which brings us to…
5. Use Natural Voice / Know Your Audience
This is how content is changing, marketing is following in the same road of engaging potential clients by using natural voice.
Natural voice simply means “writing in a manner that everyone can understand.”
Not only are search engines moving in this direction, but people will also relate to you more, and as a result, they will be less likely to feel that you are antagonizing them and their opinions.