Four Highly Effective Ways to Pitch a Good Idea

Bruse Kasanoff

The odds are pretty good that you are reading this article on your phone, while someone is speaking “to” you. They are droning on and on and on, and you are bored out of your mind. (Look up, smile, and nod your head a few times, just to be polite.)
When it’s your turn to pitch your ideas, how do you avoid this fate? It’s one thing to be bored, but quite another to be boring.

Along with Dr. Carmen Simon, a cognitive scientist and an expert in the brain science of memorable presentations, I’ve created four essential tips to ensure you never put an entire room full of people to sleep:

1. Create a sense of anticipation 

Whether you are pitching board members or convincing your kids to volunteer on the weekends, your first challenge is to get their full attention. If you skip this step, your words and best intentions will be wasted. Rookie do-gooder mistake: letting your passion blind you to the fact that no one is listening to you.

2. Be provocative 
Many speakers – and people in general – try to fit in. But when you are asking others to support your cause, you need to stand out. You need to be unique enough to justify someone else’s investment of time and/or money. To do this, you must provoke others to feel emotions and to take action. Be bold.

3. Ask questions
Carmen constantly reminds her audiences that most people only remember 10% of what you say. Whether your audience is around your kitchen table or packed into a conference room, by asking questions you change the way that they process information. Questions increase recall, by involving different portions of a listener’s brain.

This is really important: pause after you ask a tough or thought-provoking question. Give people time to let the question sink in, and to think about it. Again, most people skip this step.

4. Add surprise, conflict or tension
No matter how strong your case or how buttoned-up your facts, you can lose your audience… unless you do something to spark emotions or cause a physical and emotional reaction.

For example, I just used words to summarize these points, but words alone can’t convey these tips sufficiently.

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