How To Write Sentences That Get Responses

A simple thing that I’ve taught for many years is how you structure requests to increase your chances of a getting a response.

This isn’t about manipulation or increasing your powers of persuasion or influence. Actually, it’s just about realising that very often people want specific directions.

If I’m asking for participation, I normally like to offer three options:

  1. A small option – a very simple, one-time way of getting involved
  2. A medium option – a straightforward way of getting involved, but with 3-5 touch points
  3. A large option – a hearty, roll up your sleeves and muck in way of getting involved

I’ve also found that the order in which you ask for these matters. I start by asking for the medium option, then I go to the large option, and then finish on the small option.

The reason is that I begin with something that’s either a bit above, below, or right on what they want to do. I then go up to the aspirational ones, and then the last thing anyone hears is at least the simplest, meaning I at least get the lowest level of participation.

So the formula is: Medium-Large-Small.

Recently I was doing some work with an NGO and we went through how they’d ask people to support their project. They are asking people to fill in a form, and thus we came up with this way to ask for it:

  • How can you get involved? Three are three ways:
  • You can fill in questions 1, 2 and 3 on this form <link>
  • If you want to make it bespoke, use this template for a fuller response <link>
  • Or the simplest way is to simple respond to this email by telling us your organisation name and phone number.

You can see how we structured it.

Give it a go! Go medium with multiple ways, then large with lots of input, then small with a simple step.

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