September 9, 2016
Learning how to pitch an idea is a skill—and one you will find useful to have in your toolbox. Actually, it’s more important now than ever. In today’s leaner organizations, the ability to convince management that an idea is worth investing in has become vital. The keys are perfecting your argument beforehand, getting buy-in, and making an effective presentation.
Here are three steps to improve your delivery, and make your pitch a successful one:
1) Don’t speak up until you have really thought about what you want to say.
Even if your idea isn’t so great this time, past successes might give you a false sense of bravado to go full steam ahead without proper planning. Don’t wing it, no matter how many of your previous ideas have gone over well. Map it all out first. Then come up with a fully formed, persuasive case that it will work before you try to convince someone in senior management. Rough outlines won’t cut it. If you win your manager over and ultimately can’t come through, it may cost your company money—and you and your colleagues unnecessary work. So practice, practice, practice.
2) Convince your team before submitting your proposal in its name to senior management.
Make sure you have the answers for any questions they may have. Responding to your team’s misgivings will not only get everyone onboard, but also help you prepare for what you’ll face when presenting your idea to management. There’s a reason lawyers practice for trials by asking their clients the tough questions! Equally important, be sure management understands what is being offered. Learning how to pitch an idea includes making it clear what your proposal does and doesn’t include, what the value proposition is, and what you will deliver. Disagreement on either side only leads to unwillingness to consider new ideas in the future. The last outcome you want is to kill everyone’s desire to innovate!
3) No matter how great your idea sounds, determine if it is really doable before moving forward with it.
Your idea may look faster, cheaper, or more efficient on paper, but check with the gang in the trenches before passing everything through the pipeline up the organization. If it won’t work, you can tear it up and start again. But once you get the green light from the creative team, it will be easier to sell the idea upstairs. Backing from everyone in creative will also make the implementation go much smoother.