participants in the Stanford LEAD Program

Persuasion: Principles and Practice

Persuasion refers to the act or process of shaping people’s thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Understanding persuasion is essential to having influence in virtually any environment — at home, at work, in a sales pitch, or in the marketplace.

Course Introduction


The aim of this course is to provide insight into the psychology of persuasion. We will take an evidence-based approach and explore classic and cutting-edge research and theory to understand effective persuasive strategy, and we will put this understanding to practice using live discussions, practical activities (e.g., writing an email that grabs attention and engages the recipient), and role-playing.

Key Topics

  • Relevance: How do you make your message feel relevant? How do you engage your audience?
  • Credibility: How do you establish expertise and gain people’s trust?
  • Resistance: How do you disarm your audience and overcome their resistance?
  • Self-Persuasion: How do you get people to persuade themselves?
  • Certainty: How and why should you build certainty?
  • Uncertainty: When is uncertainty persuasive?


Marineh Lalikian
Director, Stanford LEAD Online Business Program Executive Education