The Art of Persuasion

Dates & Costs

August 10 - 11
9:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.
August 12
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

$2,000 (regular tuition)
$1,700 (before July 4)
$1,700 (McCourt School alumni)
$1,500 (McCourt School students)

Target Audience

This course is ideal for ambitious political actors, managers, and executives who want to enhance their ability to influence others.

Course Description

Persuasive communication skills are essential to achieving our professional goals—especially in Washington. Although we often think about persuasion in terms of convincing others to agree with our perspective, persuasion is really about identifying and satisfying the needs of others. In this workshop,  we will reframe how we think about persuasion and examine why some messages are more persuasive than others. Through case studies and role-playing activities, participants will learn how to use the principles of influence to design compelling pitches and get their listeners to say “yes” more often.

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By the end of this course, participants should be able to:

  • Analyze and respond to audience needs
  • Use logical, emotional, and credibility appeals
  • Apply the principles of influence
  • Develop a compelling pitch
  • Motivate listeners to take action


Dr. Steven D. Cohen is a leading expert on public speaking and effective presentation skills. He is an accomplished scholar and dynamic trainer who has brought research-based insights to clients in a wide range of industries. Dr. Cohen is well known for helping leaders and professionals speak with confidence and improve their communication skills in real time. He has been quoted in publications such as the Financial Times, Slate, and The Baltimore Sun and was featured in the BBC Radio 4 documentary, “Churchill’s Secret Cabinet.” Dr. Cohen holds faculty appointments at the Harvard Division of Continuing Education, the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, and the University of Baltimore.

Dr. Cohen is the author of two books, "Public Speaking: The Path to Success" and "Lessons from the Podium: Public Speaking as a Leadership Art." He is also the editor of "On the Path to Success: Readings and Resources," a collection of thought-provoking articles on the art of developing and delivering powerful presentations. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Cohen was an assistant vice president and team leader at Bank of America and later became a senior strategy consultant at IBM Global Business Services. He earned a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Maryland, a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, summa cum laude, from the University of Florida.


Students who complete this course will earn 1.5 continuing education units

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