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Increase your influence by perfecting your pitch

If they’d only ask what you thought.  You have twelve ideas percolating in your head

about ways to improve the business processes, but will anyone listen? You want to

stand out and be heard, but you can never seem to get a word in.

Making sure you are seen and heard in the crowded marketplace of ideas and

personalities can be a challenge. Distinguishing yourself, however, is essential to

success in the world of work. Following are a few practical and concrete steps to help

you perfect your “pitch” and become a powerful advocate for your own ideas.

Prepare your Pitch like a Pro Broadcaster

Articulating your idea in a clear, concise and compelling way takes preparation – no

shortcut here. For each idea you have, create a pitch and rehearse it until it rolls off

your tongue with ease. Utilize the formula most broadcast news stories are modeled

around:

Headline (what is the big-picture attention getter?): I have an idea that will

broaden our consumer reach by 20%!

History (what’s the background/context?): We’ve struggled in the past with

reaching college students, and so I’ve created a prototype for an app that will

help us penetrate the college market.

Example (make it real by referencing an example): I tested it with a group of

Georgetown students this past week and the response was enthusiastic.

Action (identify the next steps): If this idea appeals to you, I’d be happy to

demo the app to you and the senior team whenever you are ready.

Picture who you’ll Pitch to

Search the company website to find a photo of the individual you want to sell your

idea to. Enlarge it on your computer screen and direct your pitch to the photo.

Practice your pitch while looking into the eyes of your future audience. It’ll go a long

way in helping you feel comfortable in your communication.

Spot the Right Opportunity

Rather than hoping for a random moment when you might attempt to squeeze your

idea into the conversation, take a strategic approach to identifying the right time.

Look at the agenda for upcoming staff meetings. Is there a spot for your idea? Are

there key influencers who you can socialize the idea with in advance? They may

advocate for you and ensure you are heard.

Ask for 5 minutes

“Donna, I’ve got an idea that will save us money on our upcoming product launch.

Can you let me know when you’ve got five minutes to talk?”

Busy people shy away from open-ended statements like, “Let me know when you

have time to discuss an idea…” That kind of vague request is difficult to say “yes” to,

because the necessary time commitment is vague. Requesting only five minutes lets

the listener know you are prepared and committed to being brief.

Pitch the Path

After you’ve shared your great idea, follow it with recommended next steps:

• If you’d like to pursue this, I’d recommend drafting a press release…”

• If you are ready to proceed, I can draft an overview of the process for your

review…”

A call to action is critical to galvanize your listener. Be confident and clearly outline

the path ahead.