Enterprising beings are always in the hunt for good ideas on how to pitch better solutions. Most of these solutions entail a change of some form.
Every change goes through 3 key phases:
- Ideation – the chemical reaction that happens in your brain as you try to solve complicated problems.
- Execution – where the idea actually sees the light of the day.
Noticed that? I said three phases but listed two. We always miss this one. Between Idea and Execution is Convincing – a phase where we influence other catalysts to buy in to your idea. Convince them that it makes sense to experiment. Only then can the execution even start.
Getting ideas and executing them flawlessly is something our education teaches us well, but creating a buy in with your art of influence is a subject that doesn’t find place in those heavy books.
So let us discuss a bit about how to pitch your ideas so that they are accepted and executed the way you want.
First, a Basic Principle
Before we move any further let me remind you the basic principle – You are a Salesman (or Saleswoman). No matter what designation you have, or which industry you belong to or what qualifications you possess. If you are working with others, if your customer pays your bill or if you strive to live a better life, you are a salesman.
You are selling at each moment of your life. It’s either a crazy idea or a just a sober change that you want. You need to know how to pitch it. Pitching is the first impression of a sales cycle and, let me not sound clichéd in saying, your first impression is the last impression.
What is an Idea Made of?
This is one of the most important lessons a Himalayan Yogi can teach you. So if you don’t have the resources to reach him. Be attentive and I give that away to you for free!
An idea is made of passion; a spirit that really drives the idea. More the passion, easier it becomes to spill it over your audience. Tell them how crazily you believe in this change.
Show them how insanely you have toiled to ensure that the idea sees the light of the day. You have to be the most passionate guy in the room. It is not about begging. It is just about showing how cool it is. If you can understand this little advice, your audience will connect with you and your ideas well. Pitching then is just filler!
How to Deliver a Killer Pitch
Let’s move ahead and understand what is required to deliver a killer pitch.
1. Do your homework well
Pitching is a life and death situation for your idea. So something this critical can’t be gambled by not doing your groundwork before you start rolling.
Remember whether your audience is dumb or smart, they will ask you questions. Lots of them and you need to be apt enough in answering them. Before selling an idea you are selling yourself. They need to know how well you are prepared for it. You might know yourself well and know about your ideas inside out, but what remains in the triangle of pitching is your audience. Knowing about audience is the key because you just can’t pitch to aliens
2. Gather mass before pitching
Pitching an idea is an invitation for change. Change, Ah! The golden word. One word that we often propose a million times but defer implementing it our self. Let’s accept this. Change is uncomfortable.
While pitching any idea, no matter how sound, you are inviting pain for the receiver. Hence to win his confidence (and be confident yourself) you need to gather enough mass before rolling your pitch.
Try talking to a few colleagues to some extent, take feedback for other catalysts (customers, veterans etc). Accept that human brains work like sheep herds. We follow the majority blindly. That is the way we work. Rather fighting with it, why not use it for your benefit?
Second hand opinions, public votes and clarifying ‘what’s in it for you’ can give your pitch a massive head start right when you require it the most.
3. Stories, metaphors and examples add spice
Now let us dive a bit more into the human brain, a workshop where your idea will be analyzed threadbare. And notice that the brain works differently than the way we perceive.
The brain works in outcomes, in pictures and in feelings. Give it a hook and it guesstimates the outcomes and feels it. So if this is the case, why not give the right hooks yourself rather than allow the brain to pick and choose?
Stories keep a user tagged to your communication. Pictures help her visualize. Metaphors help her correlate as easily as possible. All this together amplifies the impact of your pitch to multiple levels. Use them often and from personal experience I can guarantee at least a 100% jump in the receptivity of your audience.
4. Pitching is like running a marathon
Pitching an idea is more of an art than science. It doesn’t have pre-defined formula or pre-designed steps. You can only master it by practicing it as much as possible. In that case pitching is more like a marathon.
- You practice a few hours daily and your body/mind starts building around it
- You run the whole race right inside your mind and visualize your performance
- You understand that you can’t be a winner in the first shot, but every time you add a drop into the ocean
Read again. Were the above sentences about how to pitch or were they about how to run a marathon?
Well both. Remember that you can often learn a few cool tricks on pitching, but what will be great is to devise your own tricks on the spot and have fun all at the same time. Pitching is like running a marathon by being in someone else’s shoes.
While you will shower your audience with all the pitching awesomeness we just discussed, do remember that the feedback you get always works in your favor and YES there are ample things to do whatever the feedback be.
What if the pitch delivers well?
It’d be stupid to just pitch an idea, make people nod in agreement and close it. Change actually starts happening hereafter.
Ensure at least a formal communication to start with so that people share onus of your idea. Remember the ones who own it, share the responsibility. Once this is done get ready to team with likeminded and be ready to rock!
What if the idea gets rejected?
Aah! It pains really hard. No actually it doesn’t. Remember this key insight – a rejected idea is a half baked masterpiece. No idea is useless. Not only you have something you are already halfway through but you even have the knowledge of how not to pitch. Rework post taking feedback from your audience rather than killing the dream.
Remember the original idea was build upon a few enterprising thoughts. The new idea which will change the world will be based on the rejected one. If failure is the stepping stone to success, how can you dare to remove this stone out of your way? Accepted ideas are good, rejected ones are great. There is no failure only feedback.
Share your tips on how to pitch an idea in the comments!
Photo by fin5bjh.
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Nice post. I believe it will surely help me to pitch my ideas to my audience.
Thanks for the comment Swamykant.
Do try to rehearse the whole pitching in your mind before you actually do it. Visualizing every single moment in your mind will help you gain more confidence and also help you to anticipate all the roadblocks in advance.
All the best!
Great article for those who want to convey ideas to people around them. I am just technical sound, pitching the idea is one of the basic thing in any organisation. This article is like candle light showed me the path. Really motivates and guides me to learn this ART! Thank you Himanshu.
Thanks for the comment Kumar. Being technically sound means you are already an authority in what you are about to present. All you need to do now is take plunge and present. Either you will deliver a winning pitch or get some good feedback on how to do it, both ways you win ! Go on. Pitch.
Thanks a lot Himanshu:-). Please keep posting many more articles like this..
Thanks for this article. As someone in the Marketing Mommunications industry,this article has really shaped my thinking and expanded my horizon. Once again,its thank you!