MLD-342: Persuasion: The Science and Art of Effective Influence with Gary Orren

Whether your goal is to convince one person in a face-to-face encounter, influence a group in a meeting, sway an entire organization, or win over the public, the capacity to persuade is key to effective leadership.

MLD-342 Persuasion: The Science and Art of Effective Influence derives from our knowledge of human behavior a set of proven principles and techniques of effective persuasion, which apply not only to public speaking and written communications, but also to one-on-one and small group interactions where most persuasion takes place. In this course, students hone their practical skills in persuasion through case studies, video examples, exercises, and role-plays. Students also will assess their personal strengths and weaknesses in persuasion, informed by the confidential assessments of others who have observed them closely in persuasion situations.

The goal of the course is simply to help students become more effective persuaders. That is, to help students become better at convincing other people who are indifferent, skeptical, or opposed to their views that they should change their attitudes and behavior in order to bring them in line with the students’ cherished goals.

How does MLD-342 compare with HKS Negotiation courses A central topic in MLD-342 involves contrasting Persuasion and Negotiation, identifying their relative strengths and weaknesses, and determining when one approach is more appropriate than the other.  Over the years, many students have taken both Persuasion and a Negotiation course, and they report that the two subjects are extremely complementary, not redundant.

How does MLD-342 compare with HKS communication courses and workshops?  MLD-342 emphasizes gaining a deep understanding of and facility with 20 or so principles of persuasion.  In MLD-342 students will apply these principles to the task of public speaking, but public speech-making is probably emphasized less in MLD-342 than in other communication courses. In addition to public speaking, MLD-342 gives attention to the types of communications where most persuasion takes place day-to-day on the job:  one-on-one, face-to-face encounters, personal conversations, small group interactions, and written communications.

This course will be offered at Harvard Kennedy School in January of 2021. If you have questions about this course, or any others in the MLD curriculum, email Greg Dorchak, MLD Area Administrator.

Greg Dorchak

Administrator of the Management, Leadership, and Decision Sciences Area at the Harvard Kennedy School.