There Are Only Three Ways for a CEO to Persuade Someone (Part 1)

The role of a biotech CEO involves effective communication between leaders, managers, board members, and shareholders. Because Boards advise and direct management teams on crucial decisions, CEOs must communicate the vision, metrics, and progress of the organization.

This blog, based on our extensive research, explains that there are only three ways to persuade someone of something. Part 1 will share the first tool and be sure to read Part 2 and Part 3 in this series to learn the other two persuasion techniques.

We have developed valuable insight into how relationships, presentations, and handling questions can affect your communication success and effectiveness with your Board and shareholders. CEOs must be able to pivot and show their dependability. The key to your success: The ability to persuade with personal credibility.  

Persuasion is not Coercion. 

Many people believe persuasion is a bullying tactic, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Persuasion is about presenting your thoughts and ideas in a compelling way that makes others listen. There are three ways to be persuasive. For some, the first way comes very easily, but for others, it is incredibly uncomfortable. 

Tool #1- How to Persuade Someone: Ethos

When you persuade someone through Ethos, you are appealing through the influence of your credibility. Credibility can fall into any of these categories: 

  • Education 
  • Background
  • Company 
  • Experience
  • Your team’s responsibilities
  • Knowledge 
  • Achievements 
  • Publications 
  • Visibility of brand/ company/ product 


Be aware that your credibility is situational. You might have elevated credibility in your company because of your CEO title, but it doesn’t hold weight everywhere and for every person. An investor might not care that you acquired a postdoctoral fellow from Harvard Medical School if they have concerns that your competitor’s drug is cheaper.

Action Item- Create an Ethos Assessment 

Make a note of all the things that give you credibility from your Ethos. Write down every area of your education, training, experience, research, publications, honors, awards, achievements, and more.

Next, find ways to incorporate and weave your Ethos into communications with Board members or other decision-makers. This approach should be subtle and only share your Ethos in passing to demonstrate your credibility with supporting materials.

A word of warning: don’t try to use your recent publication on high-throughput nuclear delivery and rapid expression of DNA via mechanical and electrical cell-membrane disruption to get out of the family reunion in Ohio next year. Ethos isn’t that powerful. 

Coming up next: Part 2

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