Ideas are at the heart of what drives us. They make us want to get up in the morning, they feed our conversations and, if they receive the support of others, they bring innovation to companies and organizations. Ideas are a significant vector for motivation but they have a big drawback: they don’t spread by themselves…
Obviously, all ideas are not equal. And it is not uncommon to see someone who persists in mulling over an idea that we don’t necessarily find very interesting. But in parallel, too many good ideas never see the light of day, just because we don’t dare to talk to the decision maker(s), or because we haven’t developed it enough to showcase, or we haven’t sufficiently anticipated the resistance that it could generate.
The only way to judge that an idea has the potential of becoming an innovation is through the support of the people to whom you present it. For that reason, you have no choice; you must submit to the exercise of presenting. Whether it’s a pitch or a more formal presentation you must be prepared to build remarks so that they will be heard. This is the meaning of all the tips we publish every week, which always include the same warning: don’t wait until it’s too late.
We were asked recently if there was a French synonym for the word pitch. Summary and synopsis being unsuitable, pitch has indeed become a full term describing a powerful tool of communication at the service of your ideas. The origin of the word pitch is in fact very interesting. As you know, in baseball, the word means the act of throwing a ball. The parallel is interesting because we know that it is totally unnecessary to throw an idea to someone who is not ready to catch it. At best, it will be caught by a hair’s breadth, at worse it will pass by completely unnoticed. Pitching an idea is therefore a specific exercise that requires attention and the complicity of the two players: the pitcher and the catcher.
Once we have accepted that ideas don’t spread alone, no matter how good they are we must get to work and equip ourselves with the two tools necessary to promote them:
The pitch, which we have just mentioned, consists of a short 2 to 3 minute speech. Whether it’s formal, in front of an audience, or unexpected, in a hallway or elevator, the pitch is in no way a demonstration. Rather, it consists of remarks that are optimized to create desire – and in particular the desire to know more – to stamp your credibility as a project leader and to spread a message designed to be relayed by those who subscribe to it.
And the presentation. As soon as your speech exceeds three minutes, the pitch structure is no longer appropriate. If after 3 minutes you are still trying to spark an interest, then you’re giving the feeling that you don’t have much to say after all; Or worse, that you’re beating around the bush without wanting to actually come to the point. To be fully effective, the exercise of presenting requires a narrative structure that will turn your message into a story in order to capture and maintain attention. This way, you’ll give consistency to your message whether it’s for a short presentation of 4 to 5 minutes, or for more ambitious formats ranging from 20 minutes to 6 hours, as was once asked of us to respond to a call for bids.
The exercise of presenting is too often perceived as something that is learned on the job by watching others. On the contrary, it’s a full-fledged communication exercise that requires an investment of time and energy that is proportional to the stakes in play. Because your presentation always has a value: that of seeing your ideas become a company project… or not.