Rhetoric and Persuasion

… a core topic in Communication Skills

Topic description

This topic introduces students to the basic principles of rhetoric and persuasion using the frameworks of Aristotle’s 3 Rhetorical Appeals and Orren’s 20 Principles of Persuasion.

Topic learning outcome

Appropriately utilize and interpret results of applying theories of rhetoric and persuasion to management problems.

Core concepts associated with this topic (MORE TO COME)
Analogies and Metaphors

Aristotle’s 3 Rhetorical Appeals – Legos, Ethos, and Pathos


Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion Science





Know the Audience

Know the Context



Orren’s 20 Principles of Persuasion



Primers for Polemicists – Comparing Rules from Harries and Alinsky







Storytelling and Narrative

Recommended readings for 7 hours of preparation

Influence at Work (12-minute YouTube video narrated by Dr. Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin, published on 26 November 2014) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFdCzN7RYbw, accessed 31 December 2015.

Gary Oren, Excellence in Communications lecture (67 minutes) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyixiKjctdI, accessed 29 December 2015.

Gary Oren, PowerPoint presentation in 2005 to the Mortgage Bankers Association at events.mortgagebankers.org/presidents2005/…/Orren_presentation.ppt, uploaded to the Atlas at Persuasion: The Science and Art of Effective Influence.

Selected handouts from the Writing, Public Speaking, and Digital Communications Handouts collection produced by the HKS Communications Program at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy (at http://shorensteincenter.org/communications-program/write-public-digital-handouts/, accessed 4 January 2016:

HKS Shorenstein Center Handouts
Advocacy and persuasion

Advocating a Controversial Position

Articulating a Vision or Mission

Campaigning for Election

Guidelines for Consensus-Building

Guidelines for Interactive Persuasion

How To Be Persuasive


Some Characteristics of Eloquence

Some Thoughts about Expressing Values

Some Rhetorical Uses of Metaphor


Creative Refutation

David Gergen’s 20 General Tips for Political Debates

John Baldoni, Using Stories to Persuade, Harvard Business Review, 24 March 2011, at https://hbr.org/2011/03/using-stories-as-a-tool-of-per, accessed 18 January 2016.

Marshall Ganz, Public Narrative – Self & Us & Now, Worksheet at http://marshallganz.usmblogs.com/files/2012/08/Public-Narrative-Worksheet-Fall-2013-.pdf, accessed 6 January 2016.

Peter Guber, “The Four Truths of Storytelling,” Harvard Business Review, Dec. 2007. At https://hbr.org/2007/12/the-four-truths-of-the-storyteller/es, accessed 27 December 2015.

Aristotle’s Rhetoric, Book 1, Chapters 2 and 3, as excerpted in americanrhetoric.com, at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/aristotleonrhetoric.htm, accessed 27 December 2015.

Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen, TED Talk published on 27 June 2014, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIho2S0ZahI, accessed 2 January 2016.

Julian Treasure: 5 ways to listen better, TED Talk published on 29 July 2011, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSohjlYQI2A, accessed 2 January 2016.

After Milgram, We’re Still Willing to Inflict Pain,” New York Times, December 28, 2008, at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/29/opinion/29mon3.html?_r=0, accessed 31 December 2015.

Steve Booth-Butterfield, 2011, Primers for Polemicists, Persuasion Blog, at http://healthyinfluence.com/wordpress/2011/04/02/primers-for-polemicists/, accessed 21 January 2016.

Owen Harries, “Primer for Polemicists,” Commentary, September 1984, pp. 57-60, at https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/a-primer-for-polemicists/, and reproduced by the Libertarian Alliance in 1991 at http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/tactn/tactn010.htm, accessed 21 January 2016.

David Brooks, “The Arduous Community,” The New York Times, December 21, 2010, p. A31, at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/opinion/21brooks.html, accessed 31 December 2015.

Malcolm Gladwell, “The Talent Myth: Are Smart People Overrated?,” The New Yorker, July 22, 2002, pp. 28-33, at http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2002/07/22/the-talent-myth, accessed 31 December 2015.

Daniel Goleman, “What Makes a Leader?,” Harvard Business Review, November-December, 1998, pp.93-102;

Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee, “Primal Leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performance,” Harvard Business Review, December 2001, pp. 43-51.

Cherry, K. A. (2015). How to Become a Master of Persuasion – Persuasion Techniques that Really Work, at http://psychology.about.com/od/socialpsychology/a/persuasiontech.htm, accessed 31 December 2015.

Recommended readings in MPP and MPA courses 

See all the readings for Gary Orren’s course: Harvard MLD342 Persuasion – The Science and Art of Effective Influence.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 22 January 2016.

Image: Ethical Use of Credibility Appeals, at https://www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/methods-of-persuasive-speaking-15/credibility-appeals-76/ethical-usage-298-4315/, accessed 22 January 2016.