It’s good to have ideas, but if you can’t sell them to your team or your leader, you only have ideas and no implementations. The process I describe below is for pitching your idea (and not for explaining the business plan behind it).
The rationale behind is that you will need to convince an investor, a sponsor, or maybe even a jury. And your time is limited, to be compared with an elevator pitch. I always give following example: you enter a lift and your general manager is in it. He heard you had an offsite activity and asks you: “So please explain to me, what did you do that afternoon?”.
Start with the ‘why‘ of your idea.
I know this will be hard, but if you start with the ‘how’ right away, you will lose your audience. They will be hearing a rather technical explanation and still can’t imagine what it’s for.
Explain the impact of your idea.
What will you reach with your idea? Will it be Steve-Jobs-world-changing-great or rather small?
Dive into the ‘how‘ of your idea.
If you explained the reason why and the expected impact, you explain the how of you idea. But keep it rather high level. Your time is limited and it would be a shame if you didn’t have it to explain the other parts.
Explain who is involved
Who is going to implement your idea? Is it a great idea, but the other department has to do it? Well, a lot people have great ideas about how other people need to work, need to improve. But what is in your area of influence?
Create an action list and assign names and dates.
How are you going to follow-up and measure success?
How will you avoid that this remains an idea? That the action list is classified in someone’s desk? How do you know if your idea is succesful? How do you know when to pull the plug?
Some tips for helping you sell your idea:
- Avoid the word ‘actually’. It gives the impression that you are not sure about your idea.
- Practice your pitch. While practicing you probably notice where the explanation is going a bit harder or discover your uncertainties (let a colleague help you and count the occurrences of ‘actually’.
- Study your audience. Who are they? What is their background? How do you need to adapt your pitch to their ears?
- Study the location where you’re going to pitch. How can you use this in your advantage?