Elements of Effective Persuasion

Harvard Business Review’s Answer Exchange shares some elements of effective persuasion:

  • Credibility. The more trust you earn and the more expertise you accumulate, the more credible you and your ideas become.
  • An understanding of the audience. This includes identifying decision makers, key stakeholders, and influencers; analyzing your audience’s likely level of receptivity; and determining how the people you aim to persuade will make the decisions you hope to influence.
  • A solid argument that is logical, consistent, and fact-based. Your argument should favorably address the interests of those you hope to persuade, eliminate or neutralize competing alternatives, and recognize the politics of the situation. Ideally, your argument should also be endorsed by objective and authoritative third parties.
  • Effective communication. You should communicate your position clearly and succinctly in a way that demonstrates your credibility and takes into account your audience and their specific needs.


Originally posted on HBR Answer Exchange (now defunct); Adapted from the book chapter Persuasion I: The Basics, Harvard Business Press