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pitching ideas

Have you ever come up with a great idea — one you’re sure everyone at work is going to love — and then watched it get shot down at the weekly planning meeting? Or maybe you’ve pitched things to the boss that illicit a polite smile but nothing else? These situations can be frustrating, especially when you know your proposal stands to save the company money and/or make everyone’s lives easier. Management consultant Alex Nuth feels your pain, and in a terrific Daily Muse post titled “6 Ways to Get Your Co-Workers and Boss to Love Your Ideas,” she outlines a half-dozen tips for getting people on your side. Read on to get her expert advice.

1. Really Know the Idea — This one sounds obvious, but you can’t start pitching an idea you haven’t fully thought out. What are the pros and cons? Is this thing even feasible? As Nuth explains, a great way to answer these questions is to run the idea by some friends and see whether they’re with you or totally baffled. If it’s the latter, you may need to sharpen your proposal a bit before the next step.

2. Tailor the Pitch for Your Audience — Different groups of people have their own personalities and therefore their own ways of responding to new ideas. If you’re presenting to a bunch of analytical, detail-oriented types, be sure to prepare charts and spreadsheets. Maybe the audience is more direct? Hit ’em with the facts and then step aside. If you’ve got a boss who’s angling for a promotion, try to explain how your idea will take him or her a step closer to realizing that goal.

3. Provide Analysis — It never hurts to have numbers to back up your idea. Don’t just say your proposal would result in “a lot” of new business. Do your homework and provide some specifics.

4. Make Your Idea Accessible — Even if people like what you’re pitching, they might be wary of taking the next step. Luckily, Nuth writes, you can alleviate these concerns by “doing some pre-planning and anticipating their concerns or needs from you so that it’s a non-issue.” For instance, if the individuals you’re pitching to would need approval from their supervisors, you can draft emails they might send to their higher-ups.

5. Build Support — Before the meeting, share your ideas with people and ask for feedback as you’re honing your presentation. If others in your office feel invested and involved, they’ll be more likely to support you.

6. Ask Yourself Two Key Questions — These are: “So what? Now what?” As Nuth explains, you’ve got to figure out (1) why anyone should care about your idea and (2) what happens next. You need to give people a reason to support you, and beyond that, you must make it clear what’s expected from them if the whole thing is going to move forward.