An anecdote is a short, personal story about a real event or experience. In persuasive writing, anecdotes are often used to personalise an issue in a way that supports the writer’s contention. Anecdotes often provide insight into how an issue has affected someone’s life. They give a human face to facts and figures, bringing credibility to an argument by showing the events or experiences that led a writer to form their opinion.

In persuasive writing, these short, personal stories can also encourage audiences to see an issue from a unique or different perspective. They can provide a personal insight into an issue. It is through these insights that anecdotes engage readers emotionally and encourage a sense of empathy with a writer’s contention.

Because so many of the conversations we have with friends and family are anecdotal, anecdotes can make issues more engaging and accessible, almost allowing a writer take on the role of a trusted friend who is sharing information.

Anecdotes in action

Read the article ‘On the cusp of climate catastrophe’. Identify the issue, contention, audience and tone of the piece. Identify the persuasive techniques in the piece and explain the effect the are intended to have on the audience.

Click here to download the ‘On the cusp of climate catastrophe’ worksheet to help you analyse this article