It’s hard to imagine a world without ideas, without innovation and without the charismatic presenters who are seemingly in possession of the Secret to Success. While it is true there are degrees between effective and ineffective communication, the art of selling a foreign concept to others is a skill that can be learned.
Most realize that pitching an idea is akin to providing a new solution and that its reception largely depends upon one’s ability to present a coherent argument. It’s all about improving the odds and to do this, entrepreneurs need to understand the risks involved.
Grasping the Gravity of the Situation
According to a recent article from Forbes, one of the reasons why 80 percent of startups fail in the first 18 months isn’t due to lack of funds or the misalignment of personal branding, but rather miscommunication.
As such, you need to be good at convincing others. You must prove you can take an idea and turn it into something that can persuade even the most hesitant investors, colleagues and decision makers.
No doubt you’ll have heard of the elevator pitch and are aware of its importance – even if the format is simply too restrictive for use in most formal presentation scenarios. That said, a similar structure and the following tips can be used to create truly compelling pitches.
- Don’t Oversell or Overcomplicate Things
Take care to limit your scope to avoid speaking too broadly. The last thing you’ll want to do is give your audience the chance to interject with their thoughts. Having to explain a tangential point or spending time getting back on message may create further opportunities for debate, negatively impacting the longevity of your idea.
You’ll want to avoid advocating for organizational or structural change and instead present a clear set of realistic goals that can be achieved by your company, ensuring your ideas will have the best possible chance of making it through till morning.
- Bank on Your Credibility and Previous Successes
If you’re at all worried about receiving an outright rejection, the best thing you can in do is provide examples in support of why you’re the one to turn your ideas into a business model, lead the team or carry out the steps necessary.
Assuming you’ve been an integral part of helping develop the company’s personal branding strategy or were involved in some other equally important capacity, you will have some leverage in the following negotiations and should be able to increase your odds of success.
- Know What Investors Want to See
In addition, remember that investors are concerned about where the idea came from almost as much as they are concerned about the idea itself. Make it a point to address your track record or at the very least, nominate a colleague you think would make a capable personal branding or project manager.
Competency and experience will be key factors in building lasting relationships, but you’ll need to prove your idea is able to make the company and its shareholders money. You can do this by presenting any relevant statistics, visuals and/or real-world examples where something similar has worked in the past.
- Understand What You’re Asking for and Why
The best presenters let their passion for what they’re talking about shine through; however, they never let their ideas get ahead of themselves. At the end of the day, the solutions you pitch must be linked to an aspect of business imperative.
In other words, make sure that the problem you are trying to solve with your idea actually addresses an immediate or foreseeable need, and that it fits with the general philosophy of the organization and its members.
- Focus on Framing Your Story
The great way to go about selling your idea is to tell engaging stories, which is fast becoming a vital skill. Knowing that what you say is just as important as the way you say it helps to foster a connection with your audience. This has been the defining characteristic of some of the best TED talks of all time.
Of course, you’ll need to alter your talking points to suit the situation and limit the amount of technical jargon you employ to make the information that little bit more accessible. Take Shipley for example, an energy company that has crafted its history into an interesting narrative that is compelling to investors. They’ve taken away all of the technical jargon and have let their story do the convincing.
- Manage Your Expectations and Those of Others
Selling your next business idea is ultimately about instilling trust. You should develop a systematic approach when managing the expectations of not only yourself, but also of all other interested parties.
Think about how you can divide your idea into manageable sections and protocols to ensure that whoever will be working on the project will benefit from a degree of autonomy. If anything, you want the team to underpromise and overdeliver.
- Prepare Answers to Any Difficult Questions
Everyone will come to the table with their own concerns and once you arrive at the end of your pitch, you’ll likely be asked a few confronting follow-up questions designed to put you off-guard.
In a pitch-type scenario where you’re whole argument is geared toward convincing others, it will be your last impressions – not your first – that matter most. Do your best to control the energy of the room and answer questions as quickly as possible before moving on to show that you’re confident.
If you can do this while incorporating the other tips we’ve talked about in this article, you should notice your ideas go over much more positively before being met with a round of applause and a standing ovation.