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30-01-2024

How to pitch your idea so everyone will listen

Do you need to sell an idea to your team, a subsidy agency, or even potential buyers? That means you will be pitching. And if you would like your idea to actually come to fruition, you’d better do it well.

‘Oh, that’s nice’
Are you simply over the moon with your idea, but hardly get past a casual ‘Oh, that’s nice’ from the person you’re talking to? When pitching your idea, your biggest challenge will be to turn an ‘Oh, that’s nice’ into an ‘Oh, how interesting! Tell me more.’ The best way to do this, is to link a real problem or need with a solution.

From problem to solution
Once your conversation partner hears you describe the problem, he or she will feel the need to solve it. People will now be more open to listening to the solutions you have to offer. Here is an example from the water purification research I did several years ago:

Problem ‘Many industrial businesses are left with strongly coloured wastewater.‘
Solution ‘Using a revolutionary technique, we will decolourise and purify the water.‘

And why should they listen?
The problem-solution combination is often not enough to get people on board. To get to an ‘Oh, how interesting. Tell me more!’, you will need to add a third element to your pitch: the advantage. Tell your audience what they have to gain from this. Find out what is important to them. What makes them happy? What do they worry about? If your idea can solve one of their problems, then your job is done. Let’s look back at our example of the coloured wastewater:

Problem + solution
‘Many industrial businesses are left with strongly coloured wastewater. Using a revolutionary technique, we will decolourise and purify the water.’
Advantage ‘This will improve river water quality

Although the general public or an environmental organisation will surely be all ears, this will not necessarily win over everyone. When addressing the corporate world, you will need to bring a different advantage to the fore.

Problem + solution ‘Many industrial businesses are left with strongly coloured wastewater. Using a revolutionary technique, we will decolourise and purify the water.’
Advantage ‘And this technique is faster and cheaper than the current solutions.’

Faster and cheaper is an advantage aimed directly at businesses. Companies that are tackling coloured wastewater will begin firing off their questions. But you could come up with even more advantages.

Problem + solution ‘Many industrial businesses are left with strongly coloured wastewater. Using a revolutionary technique, we will decolourise and purify the water.’
Advantage ‘And various businesses are interested in this technique.’

‘Various businesses being interested’ is an advantage that you could mention to your boss or potential money lenders. While they may not be interested in advantages such as better water quality or lower-cost techniques, once they know that various businesses are interested, they will surely begin dreaming up a product that could one day generate a profit. Always remember to share the advantage for your audience, and never assume that they will come up with this themselves.

What would you like them to do?
Your problem-solution-advantage combo has reeled your audience in and got them to listen to what you have to say. We could write an entire book on how you can further build on your pitch presentation (actually, we did), but one last piece of advice would be to always share your main message. There is always something you want your audience to remember or do. Do you want them to schedule a follow-up meeting, or possibly subscribe to a proposal or purchase a product? Ask them to do so. Give your audience a clear call to action if you expect them to do anything. Happy pitching!


This article from Toon Verlinden contains fragments from their book The Floor is Yours - Your Presentation, from Brainstorm to Round of Applause. In this book they show you how to present a complex idea in a clear and appealing manner and how to shape the rest of your pitch presentation.
Interested? Purchase your copy today in Dutch or pre-order the English edition. If you place your order at
https://thefloorisyours.be/nl/producten/book/the-floor-is-yours/


 
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