10 Hacks to Pitch Your Idea and Have Stakeholders Love Itby@lazutkina
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10 Hacks to Pitch Your Idea and Have Stakeholders Love It

by Anna LazutkinaJanuary 31st, 2023
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To make pitch meeting effective make sure to add a detailed agenda, then start your meeting sharing the context and basic terminology. At the same time make sure you stick to the point and avoid unnecessary details. Try to link your ideas with stakeholders goals and prepare data to justify your thoughts and answer the questions. Don't forget to moderate the meeting and follow it up with the summary. And as a secret ingredient try to plant the seed in the mind of your stakeholders in advance.
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Pitching ideas isn’t only for startup founders. In fact, every manager faces this challenge almost daily: defending a finished project in front of stakeholders, selling new ideas to a superior or presenting a solution to their team. The ability to succeed in such pitches is crucial for a business, as well as an individual’s career development.

There are a lot of articles explaining the subtle art of creating a great pitch deck. However, no matter how great your deck is, quite often you also need to actually present it. Here are 10 hacks to make this whole pitch meeting smooth and effective. No more pussyfooting around, let’s start.

1. Carefully describe meeting agenda to manage expectations

If you are having a meeting, everything starts with an appointment in the calendar. The rule ‘whatever you call a boat, that's how it will float’ works perfectly here. Meeting’s agenda is necessary to manage expectations. Any lack of information creates a space for everyone to interpret it in his or her own way. Imagine a meeting called ‘Project discussion’ without any agenda at all. Attendees’ expectations can look the following way:

  • Meeting organizer wants to present the new idea;
  • One stakeholder is waiting for the results of the Project A;
  • Another stakeholder is worried about conversion decrease and expects to hear suggestions to fix it;
  • The third one has his or her own idea and wants to discuss it.

As a result, everyone starts to talk on his or her own topic, turning the meeting into chaos. It will be hard for you to unravel this tangle. Probably the time will be just wasted. To avoid this just spend enough time describing meeting agenda. Moreover, it is always a good idea to repeat the agenda in the beginning of the meeting.

2. Share your context so that everyone can speak the same language

The meeting has started, now it’s time for you to start from the very beginning. When a person is passionate about some idea, there is a strong temptation to share very final thoughts with the audience. However your audience didn’t spend as much time thinking about the topic as you did. Very likely this is the first time they hear about it. People can feel lost and uncomfortable, or even irritated, if they won’t understand the subject. To avoid it try not to jump to the most interesting part and share your context instead. Walk your audience the whole way that leads you to the final idea. And don’t forget to give them all the terminology so that all of you can speak the same language.

3. Avoid details and focus on the essentials

Now we need to counterbalance the second advice. When sharing the context remember to stick to the most essential points and avoid giving too many details. Your meeting has a clear goal – to receive a green light for your idea. Every detail provokes your stakeholders to share their opinion on things that do not matter at the moment. The more such things you discuss – the harder it is going to be to come to an agreement. Try to mention only those points and thoughts that are crucial for making a decision to invest into the idea.

4. Make connection to your stakeholder’s pain points

Now let’s talk about the main idea of your presentation. Remember that every stakeholder is a person who has some challenges to solve at the moment. The success of your pitch heavily relies on the connection you can make between your idea and these challenges. How is your project going to help the stakeholders achieve their current goals?

5. Prepare as much data justification as possible

There is a universal language every stakeholder speaks – numbers. All your ideas should be grounded by data. Certainly, there is no need to mention all this data at once. However, you should be prepared to give a detailed answer to the question or to share more details for deeper understanding of the matter. Nothing can be more convincing than an excel spreadsheet.

6. Look forward to questions

The way you answer questions after your speech sometimes plays an even more important role in the overall impression. One common situation I face is the presenter trying to defend him- or herself in response to the very first question. And it provokes an attack from the stakeholders.

Alternative and much more favorable option is to receive each question with gratitude and curiosity. Questions are not only normal, they are even helpful for you. Try to use them to tweak your idea together with stakeholders. If you don’t have the answer right now – it’s a great possibility for you to find it all together. Remember, you are a human being, you are not supposed to know everything. Each question can be either a valuable source of information for you or an attempt to sink your project. And it is you who decides here.

7. Moderate the meeting

One thing about the meetings people tend to forget – each one should be moderated. You have a clear goal to receive the green light on the project. Focus on this goal and lead all the discussions towards it. If there is a spin-off, just suggest creating a separate meeting for this topic and try to bring everyone back to your idea. You are the one responsible for how effectively everyone is going to spend their time. So don’t be shy to interrupt unrelated discussions.

8. Exude confidence

Stakeholders invest not only into ideas, but also into people executing them. It is extremely important to show that you are confident in your idea and ready to solve problems on the way to success. Even if they don’t agree 100% with your idea, they may be ready to risk simply believing in you as an executor.

9. Follow up meeting summary

No matter what the final result of the meeting is, you should follow it up to everyone. If you didn’t get the green light – you have to summarize all the gaps and prepare the basis for the future meeting. If you succeeded – you have to manage expectations from the next steps. Again, any lack of information will cause miscommunication between you and stakeholders.

10. Prepare the ground beforehand

Finally, there is a secret ingredient which actually should be used in the beginning. Try to plant the seed in the mind of your stakeholders in advance. Share some brief ideas if you meet someone in the elevator or coffee shop. However, it is important not to start pitching it too early, just hook everyone up. This is also a great way to collect doubts and objections to prepare all explanations and make your pitch irresistible!