Persuasive Communication Bootcamp

Professional Communications for Engineers

Have you ever been frustrated when trying to explain a technical problem to someone without technical knowledge? Have your peers experienced greater professional success, not necessarily because their ideas are better, but because they can express them more clearly and persuasively?

It may be a commonly held belief that engineering and technical professionals don’t need well-developed written and oral skills, but effective communication is often the top skill today’s companies value in all their employees.

Through a mixture of discussion and hands-on workshops, this course is geared towards early career professionals and those who find themselves frequently needing to communicate their ideas to people both up and down the organizational hierarchy, focusing on four central areas:

  • public speaking
  • critical thinking
  • visual persuasion/data visualization
  • audience adaptation

Participants will identify the specific skills they need to become a successful advocate for their ideas or those of others (Principles of Persuasion) as well as examine how digital communications have both eased and introduced new challenges within the workplace.

This course was previously titled "Persuasive Communication for Technology Professionals."

Earn a Professional Certificate in Innovation and Technology

This course may be taken individually or as an elective course for the Professional Certificate Program in Innovation and Technology.

Lead Instructor(s): 

Edward Schiappa


Jun 22, 2020 - Jun 26, 2020

Course Length: 

5 Days

Course Fee: 





  • Open

It is highly recommended that you apply for a course at least 6-8 weeks before the start date to guarantee there will be space available. After that date you may be placed on a waitlist. Courses with low enrollment may be cancelled up to 4 weeks before start date if sufficient enrollments are not met. If you are able to access the online application form, then registration for that particular course is still open.

Registration for this program will close by June 1

Participant Takeaways: 

Takeaways from this course include:

  • Understand the relevant theoretical and practical knowledge behind communication and persuasive speaking
  • Enhance critical thinking abilities to construct and evaluate claims and arguments with positive outcomes
  • Explore the impact of the Digital Revolution on professional communications
  • Improve your presentation skills
  • Adapt and “translate” your messages across different audiences, especially those with differing levels of scientific and technical expertise
  • Learn "compliance gaining" persuasive strategies to change workplace culture
  • Understand the importance of intercultural differences in persuasion in order to be a global communicator

Who Should Attend: 

This course is designed for engineers and non-engineers who need to talk with each other, any professional wanting to improve their ability to present and persuade others within their organization or outside of it, and professionals who need to deliver messages across different media channels and to diverse audiences, as well as those who wish to enhance their critical thinking abilities to construct and evaluate claims and arguments with positive outcomes.

Computer Requirements:

Laptops or tablets with PowerPoint are strongly encouraged for this course.

Program Outline: 

Day One: Effective Persuasion I: The Public Presentation
Every professional is called upon to make presentations in front of audiences large and small, friendly or otherwise, technically inclined or not. This portion of the program is designed to improve presentation skills. Through a combination of lecture, demonstration, small group work, and one-on-one coaching, this program introduces participants to a time-tested and research-informed approach to persuasive presentations that focuses on relaxing the presenter, optimizing how the presenter enacts and performs credibility, and maximizes desired audience responses.

Day Two: Effective Persuasion II: The Multi-Media Technology Communicator
This day will build on the skills and knowledge achieved in day one with two enhancements. First, emphasis will be given to scientific & technical communication. Ever feel frustrated trying to present scientific or technical information to non-specialists? Or are you a non-specialist who must address specialists? This program component will address such scenarios. Second, you will learn about the importance of visual persuasion and how to use visual aids and multi-media, including web-based presentations, to maximize your professional communication effectiveness.

Day Three: Persuasion and Decision-Making
This day helps professionals understand how to maintain an atmosphere that produces civil and respectful argument to reach well-reasoned decisions based on careful deliberation. Special emphasis will be given to contexts involving intercultural differences.  Discussions can risk degenerating into personal attacks, an unproductive battle of wills, or collapsing into deference to authority, rather than providing a rational exchange and testing of ideas. The course draws on research on verbal aggression, small group discussion, intercultural communication, and argumentation analysis to identify a set of best practices that facilitate robust and productive deliberation. Participants will learn how arguments work in order to produce as well as assess arguments within and across different cultures and groups.

Day Four: Applying Persuasion Research
Every day, professionals seek to influence the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of those around them, from fellow members of the organization in which they work to external audiences of customers and stakeholders. This session draws upon research in cognitive and social psychology to understand how persuasion works, then applies that research to practical workplace situations. By understanding how people process information, we will identify a process for developing persuasion strategies, ranging from one-on-one “compliance gaining” strategies to changing a workplace culture.

Day Five: Ultimate Persuasion:  Adapting Messages and Media to Audiences 
When is it more appropriate to send a text than an email, or meet face-to-face rather than send a memo? How does one adapt a message to different audiences, from technical experts to non-experts, or from upper management to subordinates? This program component provides a framework for understanding the goals of task-oriented versus relationship-oriented communication, and then applies that framework to different communication challenges involving different communication technologies and different audiences. By the end of the day, participants will have experience with devising a communication strategy adapted to a specific situation, as well as the knowledge framework for how to do so in the future.

Course Schedule: 

View 2020 schedule (pdf)

Class runs 8:30 am - 4:30 pm Monday through Friday.



This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please complete the Custom Programs request form for further details.


Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (30%) 30
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (30%) 30
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (40%) 40

Delivery Methods: 

Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (30%) 30
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (35%) 35
Labs: Demonstrations, experiments, simulations (35%) 35



Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (50%) 50
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (50%) 50