Key Takeaways

  1. Persuasion is intentional communication designed to get another to persist, resist or change an attitude or behavior.
  2. Persuading depends on understanding your audience’s promoting as well as resisting attitudes and behaviors.
  3. Persuasive appeals can be made through effective use of:
    1. Emotion (use emotional / personal evidence)
    2. Logic (use factual / impersonal evidence)
    3. Credibility (use educational / experiential evidence)
    4. Appeal to conventional wisdom (use broadly accepted evidence)

Explore Further

optional exercises for further reflection and practice



  • Imagine that you have been asked to give a toast at a 10th reunion gathering with your fellow Stanford alumni. Prepare and digitally record yourself delivering a 3-4 minute toast reminiscing about your time at Stanford, and describing why it was valuable for you.

Build Your Checklist

this list grows throughout the academic quarter
  • Create my Anxiety Management Plan (AMP) and use when speaking publicly
  • Define my audience and speaking goals:
    1. Who am I speaking to?
    2. What are their needs?
    3. What I want them to think, feel or do differently after hearing me?
  • Choose and apply an identifiable structure, such as:
    1. What, so what, now what?
    2. Problem, solution, benefit
    3. What is, what could be, new bliss
  • Create a powerful opening and closing
  • Create transitions that:
    1. Re-summarize prior section
    2. Introduce next section
    3. Signpost overall structure
  • Develop my persuasive strategy and content, incorporating:
    1. Data
    2. Testimonial
    3. Personal experience
    4. Storytelling
  • Prepare visual aids that pass the “billboard test,” reinforcing structure and story:
    1. One big idea per slide
    2. Quick impact
    3. Clean and crisp
  • Practice and digitally record my talk repeatedly, refining:
    1. Visual delivery: Stance, movement, gestures, eye contact
    2. Vocal delivery: Volume, dynamics, pace, tone
    3. Verbal delivery: Conversational, vivid words, avoid fillers
  • Plan and prepare for Q&A:
    1. Anticipate and eliminate the need for some questions, by building responses into presentation
    2. Practice Q&A handling as part of overall preparation
    3. Use ADD structure (Answer, Detail, Describe relevance / benefit)