A Word On Presenting Your Ideas

During a pitch yesterday to a prospective client, it dawned on me how crucial it is to present ideas or opinions in a) compelling, b) organized and c) digestible ways.  All too often we come up with great solutions, that fall flat when our enthusiasm prevents us from sharing them in a logical and emotionally-compelling fashion.

While, an entire book could be written on this topic (and many have, including the hugely popular Made To Stick, by the Heath Brothers, which I haven’t read) this is a blog and so I’ll share a quick series of questions that will help to organize how you present ideas in the future.  But, in reality, it’s not any more complicated than this.

  1. What’s the insight, reality, or problem that your solution or idea is addressing? This will prepare the listener for what they’re about to hear, while providing the reasoning and background behind your thinking.
  2. What’s the idea? This should be a short, emotionally-charged summary that takes no more than a few sentences.  People’s attention spans are short, so this explanation should follow suit.
  3. How will it work? This is where you can dive a little deeper into not just the ‘how’ behind implementing or bringing the idea to life, but also expand on some of the details regarding what the idea or solution actually is.  It’s never a good idea to go into too much depth during your initial explanation, where the purpose is to generate excitement and create a sense of possibility.  Instead, if possible, address the nuances and finer details here.
  4. What will the result be? After expounding on the details, it’s always a good idea to bring your listener back to the end result or that sense of possibility.  In my case, at a marketing agency, it’s often about the potential that an idea holds for the brand on a larger scale.

The best pitches, regardless of how planned or even informal they may be, will simultaneously strive to appeal to the listener’s emotional and rational minds.  And, don’t be mistaken, this format doesn’t just apply to presenting ideas in the traditional corporate sense.  They can be used when asking for a raise at work, making a statement at a PTA meeting, or just trying to convince someone of your point of view.

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