How to pitch so that your ideas really get through the screen

Pitching an idea - new world style

We need to keep refining our way of communicating with each other to counter the fatigue that comes from having to explain everything to an audience that is half here and half on screen.

March 23, 2022

The whole idea of pitching an idea has had to change dramatically in the last couple of years given our need to stay apart from one another. But now, even though our work practices are reverting to something approaching normality, we need to keep refining our way of communicating with each other to counter the fatigue that comes from having to explain everything really carefully to an audience that is half here and half on screen. Hybrid hasn't made things easier, if anything, they're harder.

 

So here is a very brief guide (!) to how to get your point across so that it punches through general levels of screen meeting fatigue. The 3 steps run counter to what most people do which is to precede a request or suggestion with an extensive explanation of context and rationale. Most audiences either switch off or just become increasingly uneasy as the preamble extends, assuming that the size of the request is connected to the size of the pitch talk. We tend to think: the bigger the warm up talk, the bigger the ask.

 

So here is a way to avoid worrying your audience about the size of the ask by turning things on their head.

 

One.

Give the audience the punchline, in other words, the outcome that you seek, and better still, the effect that your desired outcome is projected to have.

I want website visitors to really 'get' what we do within 5 seconds of hitting our landing page - I want to take out most of the words.

Two.

Now waste no time in getting straight to the rationale for your request. Keep your language short and pithy. Avoid jargon and long words.

We currently get lots of visitors but very few people stay for more than a few seconds. We get very few conversions.

Three.

Explain, in the fewest words possible, what the ultimate benefit is of approving the request or idea. Absolutely stay away from issuing ultimatums along the lines of: “if we don't do this, then that will happen.” Far from strengthening your point, an ultimatum will only communicate desperation and an unwillingness to deviate from the suggested plan even in the face of a strong logical counter-argument. Not good then.

More conversions or requests for information means more leads for our sales people to convert. Our income could rise quite fast.

And...

Don't forget to actually ask for the go ahead!

Can I go ahead and present you with a new landing page next week?

This approach works well for several reasons. Here are two: Firstly, it's brief which means that people don't have time to switch off or to be put off by the length of your preamble. Secondly talking about the intended effect enables people to begin to visualise how good the outcome will be if they give the go-ahead to your idea.

In our new world of work, pithy communication saves time, and therefore, energy, making more room for interesting and progressive discussion. Long speeches in any forum these days will only grind people down and of course because we're still not guaranteed to all be in the same room, will prompt remote audiences to metaphorically, as well as physically, switch off.

REQUEST/DESIRED EFFECT - RATIONALE - BENEFIT ... and then ask for the go ahead.

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