August 7, 2018

Nine questions to ask yourself when preparing to pitch an idea

Are you an idea person?

Whether you are leading an organization, working in middle management or just starting your career, you probably have ideas to improve processes or products at work. But to bring them to life, you need buy-in from others.  You need to pitch your idea.

Great ideas die all the time because they are pitched without clear articulation of the problem, consideration of alternative solutions or an accounting of necessary resources.  Don’t let your idea be one of them.

Instead, ask yourself these questions when developing your pitch, integrate the answers into your argument, and watch your audience fall in love with your next big idea!

1. What problem are you trying to solve?

This may sound silly.  It’s not.  You need to be crystal clear on the problem you are trying to solve, or your solution won’t resonate.  Think it through, write it down and be prepared to describe it in detail to your audience. They must understand the need before they will become invested in any solution.

2. Why does this problem matter (and to whom)?

Who or what is affected by this problem?  Think direct and indirect impact.  In addition, consider the implications of not solving this problem — what would it mean to the company?  To customers, clients, patients or the general public?  This is all part of understanding the magnitude of the problem … and the necessity of your solution.

3. What is the current state, or the situation now?

You’ve defined the problem, now paint a picture.  How do things work (or not work) now?  Walk through it in your mind so you stumble on the pain points.  Think like a journalist and consider the who, what, where, when, why and how of the problem.

4. What is the desired state, or where you want to go?

Where would a perfect solution take you?  Again, paint a picture.  If you could solve this problem, how would the process or product you’re working with look?  How would the organization and its customers, clients, patients or employees benefit?

5. What options have you considered?

When you make your pitch, you need to show that you’ve done your homework and considered a variety of solutions.  This is how you will help your audience see the wisdom in your idea and the comprehensive approach you’ve taken in developing it.  You want them to know you’ve considered a variety of options and arrived at the best one.

6. Which option do you recommend?

Once other options have been ruled out, you need to clearly define your solution.  What is it, how will it work, and why does it outrank the alternatives?  This will enable you to demonstrate that you have truly  considered the options and arrived at the best one.

7. What resources will be needed for this option?

When you make your pitch, your audience will already be running the numbers in their heads.  [bctt tweet=”Lots of ideas are unworkable because they are simply too costly or require too many people, so you need to show why yours is different.”]Thinking through the necessary resources and building them into your pitch acknowledges the elephant in the room and will demonstrate your attention to detail.

Walk through the financial costs, workforce demands and any other potential consequences.  The idea is to anticipate and answer objections before they arise.

8. Why is the recommended option the best option?

Now, tie together all the arguments you’ve considered up to this point.  Why is your solution best?  It solves a problem that matters to your organization.  You have considered alternatives, selected the best solution and outlined the resources that will be required to put it into action.

9. What are the next steps?

Say you’ve made your pitch, and it’s a wild success.  Congratulations!  But … now what?

You need to prepare for this moment by outlining next steps.  What needs to happen to bring this idea to life?  Who will take ownership of those steps, and when will they do it?  After all the hard work you’ve put into developing and pitching your idea, it’s time to make it a reality!

What about you?

Have you nailed a pitch?  How did you approach it?  How about failed pitches?  Those can be the best learning opportunities.  Please share your experience, and let’s learn from one another!

Last updated August 7, 2018