Five Ways to be Persuasive in Biotech

One of the most important presentations is the presentation to secure funding.  It can be challenging to be persuasive with intense competition for the same resources.

Follow these steps to more successfully navigate those conversations.

  1. Think about the motivation of the people you want to persuade

Most likely it’s one of three things:

  • a need to be important
  • a need to be recognized and accepted
  • a need to be correct or accurate


Address all three of these motivations in your presentation, especially if you have multiple people in the room and if you do not know them personally.

Need for importance: “I’m so impressed that you graduated from Harvard University, would you like to go out sometime? I’d love to hear more about it.”

Need for recognition: “Grandma is going to be so proud of you when I tell her you went right to bed on time tonight.”

Need to be accurate“Given the inconvenience we had with this waitress, a 20% discount on the bill would be the right thing to request.”

Using language that resonates with a person’s primary motivation is the most effective way for them to hear your message.

  1. Speak the language of benefit

Yes, it is its own language! Communicate all of the possible benefits that could result from the agreement.  Don’t leave any out by assuming they are obvious.  When benefits are bundled they have even more impact.

For example:

“Besides making Grandma, Mommy and Daddy proud by going to bed on time, you are also going to be able to read your new book and wake up early with lots of energy to play with Billy tomorrow.”

  1. Keep your eye on the prize

People often become derailed and distracted during a conversation.  Before having a persuasive conversation, complete the following sentence:

As a result of the conversation, I want to persuade [person] to [insert verb] by [time].

Keep this objective in mind the entire time so you can guide the conversation back to your objective when it digresses.  Otherwise, you will walk away without accomplishing anything.  This lesson is best learned by observing a four year-old in action:

“Can I have a cookie now?”

“You’ve had a lot of sugar today.”

“Yes, but can I have a cookie now?

“We are leaving in a few minutes and need to say goodbye, do you have your coat?”

“Yes I have my coat, can I have a cookie now?”

This very effective focus works 9 out of 10 times, got the cookie?

  1. Tell a story

Although humans have unique experiences, they do not experience unique emotions.  We all experience the same emotions: sadness, joy, betrayal, surprise, disappointment, etc.  This shared emotion combined with an engaging delivery of the story in real-time (present tense), synchronize the teller and listener’s brains together in an identical brainwave pattern, making persuasion that much easier.

Tell a story in a manner that’s engaging, moving and relevant and demonstrates the human need for your product or service.  Some people are born with a natural aptitude, but everyone can learn how to tell the story.  A story has a beginning, middle, and end.  By connecting through a mutually experienced emotion you are more likely to sway someone. 

  1. Gain agreement along the way

This is done non-verbally by simply nodding as you talk. If your listener nods too, they are unconsciously agreeing.  Checking in to get agreement on small things makes it much easier to get agreement on your main point.  Of course, these should be things that you are confident that your listener will agree with you about.  The questions are just tagged onto a statement making them lighter and more easily agreed to.

“I love good food, how about you?”

“It feels good to get rest, doesn’t it?”

“It’s great when you get good service, isn’t it?”

Once someone is in an agreeable state they tend to just keep agreeing.

Taking a little time to understand what motivates someone, how something will benefit them, staying on point, telling a story and finding ways to agree will help you be more effective in persuading someone to do something.  An experienced Speech Coach can help you integrate these skills into your presentation ensuring that you are as persuasive and as effective as you can be.

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