Pitching Your Idea – 5 Ways to Make It Stick

by Jennifer Miller on August 10, 2012

in Business Management, Personal Effectiveness

prefect smore

S’mores and memorable ideas – both are sticky

Today is National S’mores Day, a day to honor the gooey confection that’s a staple of summertime campfires all around our nation. The stickiness of s’mores is part of their charm—when eating them you have free license to lick your fingers!

“Stickiness” is a business concept too. In the classic books The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell and Made to Stick, by the Heath brothers, the authors made the case that in order for an idea to be memorable it has to “stick” with those being exposed to the concept.

Do you have an idea you need to pitch?

Is it sticky enough? Here are five things to consider about your audience, even if it’s an “audience” of one:

Keep it simple. Sketch out your key talking points. Then, pare it down by 30%. According to the Heath brothers, when we’re an expert at something, we have “The Curse of Knowledge”. We try to teach our audience everything we know about the subject.  Stay at the 30,000 feet level. If the audience wants more information, they’ll ask questions.

Are they “thinkers” or “feelers”? If it’s primarily a logic-based crowd, use words like “mindset” and “what are your thoughts?” If it’s a more intuitive bunch, go with “what’s your gut say about this” or “let’s imagine for a moment”.

Choose motifs that resonate. Will this audience respond best to themes and images that are “hard sciences” (mechanical, scientific) or organic (nature, food)? For example, when I spoke to a group of nutrition educators on networking, I choose the theme of “Nourish Your Network”. When speaking to a group of quality engineers, I went with a motif of innovations in technology, showing various iterations of transportation.

Make them part of the story. Draw your audience into the narrative. The easiest way is to have them “think about a time when. . . .” that relates to your topic. When audience members reflect on their personal experience they become emotionally connected to that scenario you are describing. Emotion is a powerful “hook” for creating buy-in.

Give a testimonial. In marketing, it’s called a “proof source”. Be able to talk about how your idea has been used by others to make a difference. Caution: be sure the audience members find your “source” credible, or you’ve done more damage than good.

Whether you’re pitching your idea in a presentation, one-to-one conversation or a meeting use these five check-points to be sure your concept is well-received. Metaphorically speaking, you want the audience licking their fingers, just like they were enjoying that sticky s’more.

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