How To Get People To Listen And Give Buy-In For Your New Idea

December 14, 2020 learn post jumbotron work

Let’s say you have a great idea for your business. Congratulations! That idea is basically worthless.

Okay, okay, that was mean. What I meant to say was that on their own, most ideas are not valued very highly by anyone but the person who came up with them. Your good idea on its own is just not very good.

And if you’ve got an idea for your business, and your business is more than just you, then you are going to need other people to buy into that idea if you ever want it to actually happen.

So how do you do that? It’s not easy. But that’s why so many good ideas never see the light of day.

If you’re willing to do the work, you can help your great idea make it out of your head and into reality, and skyrocket your career just a little bit (or a lot) higher.

What happens to good ideas?

How many times have you heard an idea presented in a meeting that you literally never heard about again?

All too often, people who have good ideas rely on the presumed strength of their good idea too much. A great idea is great — except that it usually requires extra work upfront, a change in routine, or some other slight shift that frankly, people are just resistant to.

We don’t like change. And we avoid it all costs, especially at work, where we already have plenty to do and a change in routine could mean a headache.

Especially challenging are changes that relate to the creative side of business. Things like branding and design and logos and interfaces — those are really important for the success of your business. Unfortunately, they can sometimes seem to the non-creative parts of your business, to be a little bit frivolous.

So what you have to learn to do, is to make your creative change appealing. And that, my friend, is what we are going to teach you how to do today.

How to make your idea something people will love

Making your creative idea come to life starts way before you ever actually tell anyone on your team about it.

Instead, you first have to prepare your idea and make it strong and resilient.

Start by thinking through your idea, why it is valuable, and what arguments you think people could have against it. By being prepared, you can make sure to have solid answers for people’s questions once you present it.

Ask yourself:

– How will this make our team/company/product more valuable?
– How will we be able to measure its success/impact?
– Are there other examples of an idea like this working?
– Who are the people who will be most impacted by this idea/change? How will they be impacted? What are their biggest priorities?
– Does this offer a solution to a problem or question that has been previously raised?

The better you can understand your idea, the better it will hold up when you present it. Try to imagine the toughest competitor to this idea quizzing you on it.

If you can’t answer a question right away when you’re sharing your idea, you’ll slow down its momentum and people will have time to forget about it or find more reasons against it. So be prepared.

How to make people love your idea (without them even realizing it)

The first key to getting people on board with your idea is to move slowly. Unless there is an urgent reason for getting your idea in front of everyone asap, it is much better to slowly plant seeds and build momentum.

Start by bouncing your idea off of people on your team, in a low stakes way. Just make it a conversation, and ask their opinion. This is a great way to practice talking through your idea with an audience and you get to hear possible objections, feedback, and adjustments that could make it even better.

Once you have run your idea past a few close team members, start weaving it into a story that other people can latch on to. Imagine the customer or client who would love this new feature or design or brand. Why would they love it? How much revenue or loyalty could it create? What’s that projection based on?

Then schedule meetings with the key stakeholders who will be the decision-makers on your idea.

Don’t make a big announcement just yet. Just keep having conversations, running it past people, one by one, until you have run your idea past the most important people whose support you will need.

Going one by one accomplishes a number of things:

– It helps you make a personal connection with someone whose support you’ll need later, and shows you value this person’s opinion and feedback

– It gives you a chance to tweak your pitch to work for each individual, and to hear their objections or opinions while you still have time to incorporate their input

– It helps prime each stakeholder to begin to see your idea as a foregone conclusion by the time it actually gets presented widely

This last step is key: you want as many people as possible to subtly know your idea long before they ever hear about it in an official way, so that by the time they do hear it that way, it feels inevitable that they would support it and it would happen.

Presenting your winning idea

Once you’ve gotten feedback from your allies and key stakeholders, you should have an idea that’s been finely tuned and perfectly to fit everyone’s goals and concerns.

You should also have a good idea of what apprehensions people had most often, so you can address them early and predict what questions or problems will be raised in your presentation.

Now it’s time to put on a show.

The best things you can do when presenting your idea:

– Tell a story. Stories make concepts easy to remember and relate to quickly.

– Stick to 1-2 main points. You know more about this than your audience (since by this point, you’ve most likely been working on it for weeks), and that knowledge can work against you in a presentation. Don’t overwhelm people with information, contingencies, and too many details. Keep it simple to start; get into the details later.

– Tailor it to the audience. If you’re presenting to executives, hit on points that executives care about. If you’re talking to designers, hit on points that designers care about. These are different things, so know your audience.

– Be open to feedback and make it a conversation. Instead of being defensive and trying to answer every single question as it comes up, try to instead facilitate a discussion after your presentation. By making it seem like a conversation, you’ll look like a leader on the same level with the stakeholders in the room. It shows confidence in your idea, and smooths the resistance that can often be the first reaction to a new idea.

– Wrap it up with next steps. Momentum will be the life or death of your idea. You should know exactly what you want each person in the room to do next, and tell them those things in a way that is clear. Follow up with them afterwards, send them a summary of your idea and the action items they need or that you will need to do. Make sure things happen. This is your most important job yet.

A great idea on its own is not worth much. But a great idea, in the hands of someone who can carry it from inception to actual real life, holy-shit-this-is-amazing execution is something truly amazing. And that could be you!

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