Using Appeals to Kairos in Persuasive Writing

No better time to use appeals to kairos in your persuasive writing exists. If this term and/or topic are completely new, read “Kairos.” Every day, writers who understand and effectively incorporate kairos into their writing have an advantage: they can creditably connect their message to the audience’s sense of place and time.

An effective writer appeals to kairos by considering, and taking advantage of, the moment into which one’s writing will enter. Ask these questions:

  • Where will my writing be read?
  • When will my writing be read?
  • Why is this topic important in the audience’s sense of when and where?
  • What important events will have just transpired, or will be about to take place, when my audience reads my writing?

Asking and answering these questions will lead you to select an appropriate method for appealing to kairos. Review some examples of these approaches below.

Example 1


❖ a paper about pet overpopulation that will be read a week prior to a pet adoption event by an audience in Florida

Explaining the Immediacy of a Topic

According to the Humane Society, euthanasia rates of dogs and cats in shelters dropped 10 percent in the 1990s, and from 1973-2007, the number of cats and dogs in U.S. households more than doubled. However, according to information published by Hillsborough County, shelters registered 683 intakes in April, 2016 (“Monthly Shelter Reporting”). These facts demand immediate attention from compassionate citizens who want to influence this issue.

The number of homeless animals in an area may fluctuate, so informing the reader that county shelters recently took in 683 animals in only one month highlights the current importance of the topic.

Referring to a Current Crisis Through Credible and Current Sources

There are currently 438 animals living in Hillsborough County shelters (“Available Kennel Inventory”) rather than enjoying life with loving families. These circumstances suggest that many domestic animals currently need the attention of concerned citizens.

Demonstrating a current need—in this case the pressing need to connect homeless, domestic animals with loving families—helps the reader understand why this topic is important now. If the paper’s thesis argues that, due to pet overpopulation, concerned citizens that can adopt homeless animals should do so, providing current information about homeless animals will support that thesis statement. 

The Call to “Act Now”

Readers who are concerned about this issue will have an opportunity to do something about it. A week from today, Hillsborough County Animal Services will host a pet adoption event. Interested readers may prepare their homes for a pet, and they can adopt one as early as next week.

Informing readers about an upcoming adoption event may provoke an immediate response by offering them an opportunity they cannot resist.

Example 2

❖ a persuasive text about the death penalty that will be immediately read by an audience in Texas after someone in Texas has been sentenced to the death penalty

Explaining the Immediacy of a Topic

According to The New York Times, earlier this year, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two appeals that raise questions about the roles intellectual disability and race might play in capital prosecutions (Liptak). The court will hear the two cases of prisoners on death row in Texas. Additionally, although some states’ Supreme Court justices have previously ruled that individuals with an IQ under 70 should not be executed, in January 2016, Robert Ladd was executed in Texas, despite his lawyers’ assertions that he had an IQ of 67 (Westcott).

Pointing out that the Supreme Court has recently heard appeals of death-penalty cases in which race and/or intellectual ability has played a role illustrates the immediacy of the topic. If the paper’s thesis argues that a Texan with a low IQ should be sentenced to life in prison instead of the death penalty, these cases will support that assertion.

The Call to “Act Now”

Readers who remain concerned about the justice of the death penalty should immediately contact the Texas Moratorium Network in order to participate in the next rally to abolish the death penalty. These rallies, which undoubtedly put pressure on the state government, typically take place in front of the governor’s mansion. Although Texas has not abolished the death penalty, protests such as these, as well as the advocacy of similar organizations, have influenced the exoneration and liberation of some Texans, such as Anthony Graves. Graves was vindicated and released from death row in 2010 (“Who We Are”).

Providing information about how readers can take an effective action to address a social issue creates a sense of urgency. If the paper’s thesis argues that, due to numerous wrongful convictions, Texas should place a moratorium on the death penalty, this call to action will support that claim.

Considering the time, place, speaker, and audience involved (Pantelides, McIntyre, and McKee) can help any writer choose an appropriate method for appealing to kairos.

Works Cited

“Available Kennel Inventory.” Hillsborough County Government, Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners, 21 July 2016,

Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court to Hear Two Major Death Penalty Cases.” The New York Times, The New York Times Company, 6 June 2016,

“Monthly Shelter Reporting Req’d by Section 823.15.” Hillsborough County Government, Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners, April 2016,

Pantelides, Kate, Megan McIntyre, and Jessica McKee. “Kairos.” Writing Commons, 16 April 2012,

Westcott, Lucy. “Texas Executes Mentally Ill Man After Multiple Appeals.” Newsweek, Newsweek LLC, 22 March 2016,

“Who We Are.” Anthony  Graves  Foundation, Anthony Graves Foundation,