Present Concepts & Ideas Convincingly
Entrepreneurial success hinges on many factors – expertise, shrewd management, experience – to name just a few. In today’s world of rapid change, there’s one factor that is becoming increasingly important: innovative strength. This involves both big and small ideas that are generated throughout the company and help improve it as a whole.
Despite all this idealism, good ideas don’t always succeed in companies. They’re often rejected both where they’re born and where they’re intended to be realized. Employees often lack the courage to present their own ideas for fear of rejection. And when the idea is there, it often can’t be sold well enough to be truly heard. Moreover, not all management is open to suggestions “from below” – the idea put forward isn’t fully appreciated, is rejected or even torn down.
Perhaps you’ve encountered this problem before and are wondering if and how you can overcome the critical hurdle of getting your idea off the ground. But this – the subtleties and techniques of presenting ideas – is something that’s hardly ever addressed in any type of training or course, even though it can be decisive in driving employees and companies forward.
To help you present your concepts convincingly and score points in the workplace, we’ve provided you with tangible ideas, tips and techniques that will make your presentation a success.
Presenting your ideas convincingly: 20 tips to help you get ahead
Tip 1: Make the interests of the company a priority
Even if an idea may only affect a small part of the company, its benefit should still relate to the entire company. This gives it more weight and increases the chances of it being taken on board. Where is the added value for the company? How can other parts of the company benefit? How can we identify its impact? The presentation of your ideas could also include references to possible problems and risks to show that the company’s long-term viability is your priority.
Tip 2: Align with decision makers
When you present ideas, they are assessed against the standards of both the company and decision-makers. To be convincing, you have to align your presentation with these interests and values. What goals and values are important to the decision makers? How well do they know the facts? How do they tick? This isn’t always easy to ascertain. Discreetly asking colleagues for some inside information can help.
Tip 3: Wait for an opportune time
The timing of your presentation is key and may require some patience. Keeping an eye on the overall mood, trends and topics in the company can pay off, as it allows you to hit the bull’s eye with the right suggestion at the right time.
Time is a rare commodity in executive offices, and pushy employees don’t exactly generate enthusiasm. Choose when you pitch your idea wisely, and make sure you schedule an appointment to give a more in-depth presentation.
Tip 4: Know how to accept criticism
A constructive approach to criticism is crucial to presenting ideas convincingly. Reacting negatively to criticism can make you appear unprofessional and unprepared. No matter what is thrown at you, react calmly, and respectfully. Take the time to critique your idea objectively and identify potential weak points. This will prepare you for any questions or concerns in advance.
Another good practice is to specifically ask for criticism and even (in moderation) constructively criticize your own proposal. This shows you’ve thought through your idea and that you have the company’s best interests in mind, not just your own reputation.
Tip 5: Keep cool
Anyone who has an idea and believes fully in it is usually very passionate about it. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that and passion is very contagious. But too much enthusiasm and excitement can do more harm than good. Hot-headedness does not make anyone look particularly convincing.
It’s always a good idea to contain your excitement and wait for the right time to express it. Don’t let criticism or hesitant reactions throw you off – the power of persuasion is all about context and timing.
Tip 6: Don’t “go into battle” alone
In almost every company there are those who are quickly influenced by the moods and opinions of others. This kind of group dynamic can be disastrous if critics take the floor when you present your ideas. It may make strategic sense to find allies who can advocate for your ideas. ideally, they will also be able to provide functional support help optimize your concept.
Tip 7: Observe the company culture
Adapting your presentation to the practices and goals in your workplace will help ensure your new idea is well received. This isn’t to say that a little creativity won’t be appreciated but, thinking too much outside of the box may dull your power of persuasion.
If you are using PowerPoint to present your ideas, make sure the slides align with your corporate design – you’ll be sure to make a good impression.
Tip 8: Be succinct
Expertise shines through content and clear and concise communication. To present your ideas convincingly, you need to get to the heart of your message. Choose simple but accurate words and avoid convoluted statements. A presentation that is perceived as boring and time-consuming will never be successful – efficiency is key. Prepare more detailed information that can be presented on request.
Tip 9: Arouse interest
How you open your presentation is crucial to capture the interest of the audience right from the start. An interesting question or unusual thesis can be used as rhetorical “bait”. Anecdotes and short stories that clarify and illustrate the issue are a good way to get started. You can also open with facts about an existing problem and then present your ideas as solutions.
Tip 10: Point out opportunities and new perspectives
Almost as decisive as the idea your presenting is the outcome it should generate. Every good idea should be associated with identifiable added value and this needs to be made clear in the presentation. Which problem could be solved? What opportunities could be opened up? What improvements can be achieved?
Tip 11: Be well prepared
An idea should be fully developed by the time it is presented. How it can be implemented in the company needs to be carefully thought through so you can answer any questions that many arise. Have all relevant facts at hand. Figures are always important for the executive floor. What are the expected costs? What is the potential profit margin? What is the market situation?
Tip 12: the “layman’s test”
Are you wondering whether you can summarize your idea clearly and concisely? Then try the “layman’s test”. People who have no experience with the topic often ask questions that you never considered. Deliver your presentation to uninvolved parties (e.g., friends and family members) and test their reactions. This can provide not only new input but is also great practice.
Tip 13: A convincing performance = a convincing presentation
It should be obvious that you stand behind your idea. A self-confident appearance helps in this process. Maintain eye contact, pay attention to your posture and use clear, unambiguous language. This isn’t a given with everyone, but the right preparation can help reduce nervousness. Positive thinking also helps. What do you have to lose? Even if the idea is rejected, at least you tried it and, in the process, proved yourself to be committed and motivated.
Tip 14: Structure your arguments
A clear argumentation structure ensures a convincing presentation. Find a concise introduction that leads to your idea. Then support it with arguments and facts. But don’t overstate things. You want to convince, not twist someone’s arm! Limit yourself to three good arguments and include meaningful, pertinent proof. Ideally, facts and figures should be used to support your arguments.
These can be company figures or data from studies. Recurring customer suggestions also contribute to a good argument. Summarize the most important facts and figures at the end and repeat your presentation strongest arguments.
Tip 15: Be realistic
An overly ambitious presentation can quickly backfire. Never promise unrealistic results or an absolutely perfect concept. And even if they buy into your hyperbole at first, sooner or later it will lead to disappointment and make you look bad. This could compromise the trust people have in you.
Tip 16: A personal touch is always persuasive
Naturally your presentation should be factual. But the fact is you want to sell something to the audience – your idea. Good advertising always works with emotions. Feel free to add a little personality to your presentation. If you are not yet well known in the company or have flown under the radar, this can include a short introduction about yourself: In which department do you work? What do you do there? What inspired your idea and what is your motivation?
Get creative; maybe you could tell it like a story. Visual language can help a lot with this. Presenting your idea in PowerPoint with carefully curated pictures is a great way to emotionalize your message.
Another way to create a personal atmosphere is to involve the audience by addressing them, asking questions or referencing something they’ve said before (“You always mention how challenging it is…”).
Tip 17: Be authentic
It may sound trite, but it works: Just be yourself! Authenticity always goes over well. If you’re not an entertainer by nature, don’t try to be one. If you’re nervous, admit it. If you make a mistake, own it with humor. These are people sitting in front of you and they’ve probably been in a similar situation themselves.
Tip 18: Persuasion means staying focused
Just because the initial response to your idea may be lukewarm doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Feel free to dig deeper. Show that you’re willing to modify or adapt your idea to new input. Offer to research it even more and offer alternative approaches (“If you’re still interested in my proposal, I could …”). This can be done in person (if the opportunity arises) or by e-mail.
Whatever you do, don’t go overboard and give the impression that you want to push your idea through at all costs.
Tip 19: Be prepared to forego the glory
This may come across as a bit harsh because it may prevent you from getting credit for your idea. Still, it can be something to keep in mind if your main concern is the actual implementation of your idea. Sell your idea with so much skill and influence that your higher-ups will think that they came up with the idea themselves. This might only require a few timely suggestions and tips. Even a flawed suggestion, which the boss can then optimize, is a possibility.
NB: Deferring your own ego does have its benefits. You’ll be perceived as committed and inspiring and will probably find it easier to be heard in the future.
Tip 20: Deal with rejection constructively
If your idea is clearly rejected, you have to accept it. These things happen. The reasons can be many and varied and don’t necessarily relate to you and your concept. Often it is one’ s own ego that prevents people from accepting the proposals of others. Some companies are simply averse to new ideas and changes or have a “pecking order” in which not everyone is allowed to have their say.
Don’t rack your brain looking for the reasons but accept it as experience and good practice for the next opportunity. Handling rejection with grace and confidence leaves a strong impression and won’t be quickly forgotten. As the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity!”
When time is at a premium: the elevator pitch
Many managers are always in a rush or busy, meaning there’s no real opportunity to present your idea to them in peace. This is where the good old – but still useful – elevator pitch can help.
This technique dates back to the 1980s and is based on the idea of delivering a short, persuasive pitch in the elevator. It’s proved its worth time and again and is still used today. But don’t let the name fool you; it doesn’t always have to be in the elevator. It’s more about presenting your idea skillfully and quickly, no matter where you happen to be. The key is to always have the right words at the ready and keep your eyes open for the right opportunity.
It always pays to present ideas convincingly, regardless of the outcome
As you can see, there are plenty of tips and suggestions for pitching your idea. Now it’s up to you to put them into practice. Success is never guaranteed. But even if an idea is rejected, a convincing presentation can leave a lasting impression – and so can the presenter.
The courage to step out of the shadows and invest some extra effort in designing a presentation will pay dividends, no matter what the outcome. And remember; the end of one idea is the beginning of another. This is ultimately how you and your company can achieve long-term progress.