If you care at all about your job, you have big plans and ideas for your company that you want others to hear and take seriously. While many times you may be rebuffed by higher-ups who make whatever decision they want regardless of other suggestions, you never know when an idea you have could catch your boss’ eye and put you on his radar for a future promotion. When these ideas strike you, it’s important that you present yourself well in order to be as persuasive as possible when you finally get a chance to break into the big time.
1. Be curious
Before even making a pitch, you want your employer to see that you’re not just looking out for yourself; you have the company’s interests in minds. Put in extra hours, go the extra mile on projects, and ask questions about goings-on in the industry. Showing you have a genuine interest in the industry is the best way to get your foot in your boss’ door. On the other hand, nothing will sour your boss to your idea than showing you are only out for a promotion, and have nothing more than a passing interest in the company as a whole.
2. Listen effectively
Of course, since you’ll be asking a lot of questions, make sure you listen to the answer. Again, asking questions superficially just to make yourself look inquisitive will get you nowhere. You have to genuinely want to know the answers to the questions your asking, and also show that you’re able to take this information and act upon it. Regurgitating information only gets you so far; taking in information and integrating it with your ideas will take you much further.
3. Be honest
You’ll be much more persuasive if you’re always honest with others. Remember: your reputation is at stake when you go out on a limb to make a project pitch. Stretching the truth even a little bit can not only crush your hopes of a promotion, but may even cause you to lose your job. On the other hand, if you have a proven track record of honesty, your boss will probably at least hear your idea before he decides whether or not to run with it. Make sure you’re completely transparent about your ideas and motivation before moving forward with your pitch.
4. Be confident
Being confident is definitely tough, especially when taking a risk and trying to impress your employer. However, being confident shows others that you are knowledgeable and care deeply about the subject at hand. Be prepared with answers to potential questions in order to show you’ve covered all the bases and thought of possible contingencies. This will also alleviate your boss’ concerns, and make him more willing to take a chance on your idea.
5. Speak confidently
Not only do you have to be confident, you have to show confidence. Public speaking is a pain but the truth, even if you have some Earth-shatteringly awesome ideas, no one will listen to you if you’re afraid to get up and scream them to the world. Waffling while on the “big stage” transmits the idea that you’re not entirely sure of your idea, and are taking a stab in the dark. Be confident, and speak confidently, and people will listen to you.
6. Tell an anecdote
Your ideas need to be actionable. You can’t just come into a meeting with an idea you think would work just because, well, you think it’d work. You have to back it up with stories of past experiences in which your idea would have helped in some way. Think about past customer interactions, or past troubles the business has had, and work with them. “I noticed that, in the past 6 months, our customers have been replying negatively to x, y, and z. My idea to alleviate this situation is a, b, c.” This statement clearly states the problem you wish to attack, why you want to attack it, and how you plan on doing so.
7. Address concerns
We mentioned before that you should prepare answers to potential questions your audience may have. This is incredibly important in order to maintain your sense of confidence. However, if you don’t have an answer to a question being asked, that’s okay too. Just be prepared to turn the question around to the floor, and solicit advice from other members of the audience. Remember, being a good listener is just as important as having all the answers.
8. Find a common ground
Make sure your audience knows you’re all in the same boat, and you all want the same thing: For your company to succeed. Even though you might have to step on other people’s toes (for example, if someone’s idea hasn’t worked out as planned), don’t dismiss their ideas entirely. Instead, use their ideas as a springboard, and tweak them to be more successful. By making sure everyone is on the same page as you forge forward, you ensure that everyone’s in your corner, and your ideas can gain some traction.
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