How to Pitch an Idea

We know – you’re excited. Having a good idea is exciting. You see all the possibilities: all the ways this could work, all the obstacles you already know how to sidestep. It’s almost frustrating. You know exactly where it is, and if only someone would give you the keys to the car you could find it and bring it back.

It’s a good thing, a powerful thing – but it also comes loaded with some extra baggage you might not be prepared for. The excitement that’s a natural extension of having a good idea can work against you, making you seem overeager and even self-serving. And there’s no greater turn-off to an audience than that.

If you’re going to succeed in getting your idea off the ground, you’ll have to channel that excitement into the kind of measured confidence that actually convinces people. So remember a few quick tips when you’re pitching:

  1. Treat it like someone else’s idea.

It’s a great trick: pretend this has nothing to do with you. Abandon your ownership of the idea – all the pride, the investment, the selfish desire for it to succeed. Instead, think of it as something you heard about that you found convincing. It’ll help you focus your argument on the unimpeachable reasoning that would lead pretty much anybody to the same place.

  1. Think like your audience.

It doesn’t matter what you get out of it, or how good an idea it might seem in the abstract: keep your audience’s point of view at the top of the priority list at all times. Get in their heads. They’re asking, ‘What can this idea do for me?’ Answer them.

  1. Play devil’s advocate.

They’ll be doing this anyway, so beat them to it. Consider why this wouldn’t work, and share your thoughts openly. Don’t pretend the objections aren’t there; address them head-on. Even if you don’t have any ironclad assurances, the fact that you’re thinking it through will make everyone feel more confident – both about your idea and about you.

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