Business writing – presumptions versus assertions

Business writing - presumptions versus assumptions

Presumptions or assertions?

Here is an email I received recently from my Canadian-based friend and speaker coach Tsufit, that really struck a chord with me.

In the following few sentences she captures an important point about how you phrase things that can transform a statement that’s weak and open to argument, into one which delivers the point in a powerful and effective way.

Why assertions can lay you open to attack

Hi Suzan,

My daughter is supposed to read this book, Sold on Language, for her Anthro class, but I grabbed it and I’m on page 128.

These 2 eggheads from University of Whatever make some really good points about marketing & advertising language.

Like how you can slip under your prospects’ radar by using presumptions rather than assertions.

The authors, Sedivy and Carlson, assert that assertions are open to scrutiny while presumptions tend to fly under the radar. They give this example.

“The quality of Stickley’s furniture is legendary. You can afford it.”

That leaves 2 assertions open to attack, i.e. that the quality of Stickley’s furniture is legendary and that you can afford it.

And how related presumptions are much harder to argue with

But if you rephrase it:

” Yes, you can afford the legendary quality of Stickley” 

There’s only one assertion vulnerable to attack (that you can afford it). The part about the quality of Stickley is presumed and therefore is less likely to be scrutinized.

You too can apply this ingenious technique to your marketing.

[See, I just did it. The fact that the technique is ingenious is presumed. Only whether you can apply it is open to question or scrutiny.]

Now that you’re aware of it, try to notice it when marketers are speaking to you. And then practice doing it yourself.

You state part of your sentence as a “by the way, everyone already knows this (except maybe you) fact” (i.e. the presumption) and the other part, the part you’re prepared to defend, as an assertion.

Mastering this technique will increase your influence

Scary in the wrong hands but a powerful marketing technique nonetheless.

See you in the spotlight!


Do you benefit from using presumptions rather than assertions?

Please share…

Business writing - presumptions versus assertions


By Tsufit c. 2006-2015
Tsufit, author of Step Into The Spotlight! coaches entrepreneurs and keynote speakers and authors to captivate their audiences. To receive all the articles in this series, enter your name at  More information on Tsufit at


photo credit: Jinx! via photopin cc




  1. I think that Tsufit is correct in her observation about assertions and presumptions. And you too can use this when you’re marketing 🙂 But be aware when it is used – be aware – don’t just read and accept what’s said. Comment or at least think about it.

  2. I’m sure you’re right, Trudy. As always, it’s a case of “horses for courses” … bearing advice like Tsufit’s in mind, but using its wisdom, er, wisely!