How Do We Present Our Ideas?
Do you remember how it felt when you told someone about your idea for the very first time?
I do. It was quite tough. I felt a tickling in my stomach. My problem is that when I am excited about something, my brain becomes hyperactive. I cannot communicate clearly. My brain is running ahead, and my mouth and words follow after. So sometimes, I need to pause and try to remember what this idea is all about. It is as essential to have the skill to pitch your idea for the first time as it is to develop your concept into a product.
The best way to present a new idea is that have some technical backup. If I have nailed down the pitch in PowerPoint or a demo video, it is easier to share the idea.
However, I have found that excitement is critical to taking your idea to the next level. Based on experience and research, there is no other way to get your idea across than to be excited. I have seen and received so many pitches where the presenter has read from a script. That is no way to deliver the message. Even if the facts are correct; you will face the problem of being inauthentic. When you are talking about your idea, you should always look the person or the crowd in the eyes. If you are hiding behind a piece of paper, it is impossible to get your idea across. If you are giving a legally binding statement, then hold to your script tight. But when you’re pitching, it is very different.
In short, you have to get the recipient excited about your idea. No one will be interested in hearing only the facts. You have to activate their emotions. A smooth video pitch is a concrete tool to make that happen.
Video Is a Winning Formula
In a video pitch, you can be very specific about the overall idea. You can use pictures, voice-over, music, and graphics to paint a vivid image in the receiver’s head. However, here are the basics. You can use a music library. There are dozens of them available for monthly or yearly fees, or one-time use. You can also hire a graphic designer or animator online for example from 99 Designs. Your pitch can come alive for a ballpark of 500€ for a professional-looking video. And in my experience, that is an investment you should make. If you do it right, there will be a good return on investment.
The biggest advantage to using a video is that it captures your voice and style. This is how it works. You are pitching your idea to a friend of yours who is working in Company X. He will deliver the pitch to a middle-manager. She will deliver your idea to her boss. If you ever played Telephone as a child, you know what I mean. The result will not be the same as what you said in the first place. When you use a video pitch, both the tone and the message itself will be exactly the same as it travels through the organization.
Write Your Pitch Down – and Be Careful with Pictures
If you can’t use a video pitch, the next best thing is to have your idea in a nutshell written down. No more than five bullet points on one page. And no more than ten slides. And then add some visuals. Be careful of the tone of the pictures. The human brain can process pictures thousands of times faster than words. Pictures are loaded with feelings. If you use the same stock image that you have seen all over the internet, whatever you say, will give off the impression that your approach is not that unique.
Let’s play a game. I am pitching you a new restaurant; my WEGAN restaurant is coming to a town near you. What would be your first impression if you saw colorful, highly symbolic banners with huge fonts? Or what if I only used black and white close-ups of the products? What would your impression be then? The key is to use pictures that will set the tone for your product, and tap into why someone will want to buy it.
At first, it might be tough to present your idea. Initially, the best recipient for your pitch is your mirror. The next recipient should be the video camera on your phone. The third should be a friend or mentor. It is crucial to pitch the idea to someone you trust, who will give you their honest opinion on how to make it better, because there is always room for improvement, especially at this stage.
When you pass those tests, you are ready to present anything. After you have presented your idea five times, it will start to become routine. And once you pitch it 50 times, you will get bored. Even if you are still excited about the idea, and you know it inside out, it might be harder to generate the same excitement that you had in the first place. And here is the thing. You always have to remember that this is usually the first time the receiver will hear your idea.
We all have good days and bad days. And you might not always feel as excited to share your marvelous idea as you do at other times. I have pitched my ideas in conferences, and exhibitions from Beijing to Los Angeles, from Cannes to London. And now more and more on video via different platforms in the post-COVID new normal. Every time I have to motivate myself to make a better pitch. Once I had terrible jetlag, and the pitch was just two hours after landing. My brain energy was solely focused on the burning question: where can I find a pillow? You might ask yourself, would it be only human to lower the bar a bit? When you are pitching, the answer is no. The most useful motivational question to me is: Why should anyone else care about your idea if you are not excited? I am a big believer in flexibility. But when it comes to pitching, there is no room for compromise.
It is impossible to take the position that you have an idea, product, or service that you don’t have to pitch. No matter how great the idea, if you don’t pitch it, no one will know about it.
One of my all-time favorite pitch books is Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff. If you want to learn the best pitch techniques, this is an excellent book to begin with.
Let’s Do Three Versions of Your Pitch
You should have at least three versions of your pitch. The first one is just a one-liner that will answer questions about WHY and WHAT. In other words, why should anyone care, why it is for them, and what problem it solves. That is the so-called elevator pitch. The target group is broad; you can tell it to anyone anywhere.
The second pitch can be a bit longer. It is like the previous one, but it will also share WHEN and WHO is involved. That can last 5 minutes maximum.
A longer, 15-minute pitch will be helpful to have in your pocket to answer any analytical questions. If people are excited and want to run with the idea immediately, it is good to have a long pitch prepared. But please always provide just the relevant information in a pitch. Always book another meeting for line-by-line budget negotiations or technical details. If there is a will, there is a road. If someone turns your idea down based on a small budget matter or technical issue, that partner would not be suitable for you anyway.
The biggest questions people always have are:
- What problem in the world are you solving?
- How will your idea solve it?
- What is your idea all about?
- Who is going to do it?
- When will it be delivered?
- (and also be prepared to answer: How much does it cost?)
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