Pitching ideas to your boss can be intimidating, but you can do it effectively. Here are five tips that will get you ready and give your idea a better chance of resonating with your leader:
Tip #1: Be diligent with your work and attitude.
Your level of success with your current work in your current role is positively or negatively impacting your influence with your boss. Your attitude also affects your relationship with your boss.
If you know you’re not bringing your best to work, hold off on presenting your idea until you’ve gotten your primary responsibilities back on track for 6-8 weeks.
Tip #2: Connect your idea to your boss’s problems or goals.
Understand how your idea is relevant to your boss. Ask yourself, ‘How does this idea help my boss or the organization?’ Assuming it’s helpful, you want to clarify and define the value specifically to your boss. For example, introducing a new product may serve our customer, but it may also help my boss achieve the revenue goal he or she is tasked with achieving.
Essentially, what’s in it for your boss? Hopefully, this answer should come to you quickly. If you don't know this answer, use a few minutes in your next meeting or elevator ride with your boss to ask what he/she is working on or what’s a big goal he/she has set for the year. With this information, you’ll be able to assess how your idea is valuable to your boss.
If you determine it’s not valuable to your boss, will it serve another person or team in your organization? If so, share it. If not, that’s okay.
As launchers, we may be excited by potentially solving a problem that’s simply not a priority to our boss or the organization. Write down the problem/opportunity, suggested solution, and perceived payoff. Then, move on. You may have a chance to share it down the road.
Tip #3: Craft an elevator pitch specifically for your boss.
Assuming you’ve identified a connection between your idea and your boss’s goals or problems, create a custom elevator pitch specifically for your boss.
Start by taking a few minutes to answer the following questions:
What’s the problem/opportunity for your boss?
What’s the solution for your boss?
What’s the payoff for your boss?
This is the most critical tip on the list. Why? Because, unfortunately, a great idea doesn’t sell itself; it needs great communication. A great idea poorly communicated is typically a stalled and unsupported idea. However, making the most of your moment will require using minimum words to get maximum results.
If you'd like in-depth help crafting your pitch, enroll in Launch Youniversity’s new online course, Elevator Pitch.
Tip #4: Win the game in regulation.
Make it a rule to avoid asking for special meetings to pitch your ideas. Your boss is busy, and it’s difficult for he/she to complete everything already on their to-do list. Consequently, it may be difficult for your boss to accommodate you or you may have to wait a while to get an appointment.
When you request a meeting specifically to pitch your idea, you also put unnecessary pressure on yourself and your idea. Subconsciously, your boss will be evaluating if the idea you’re sharing was worth the time he/she is sacrificing.
In lieu of making special appointments, leverage a few minutes in your regularly scheduled meetings, your casual time in the company lunch room, or your next elevator ride or walk through the office. I’ve secured more approvals with my bosses in our walks between meetings or in five-minute conversations following meetings. These impromptu, organic opportunities are valuable to your boss because they require no extra time.
Avoid overtime and think of opportunities to chat during the moments that are readily available to you.
Tip #5: Clarify the next step.
You’ve done it! You nailed your pitch. Your boss is nodding with affirmation. Close your pitch by asking your boss this question: What’s the best next step?
If that feels too direct for you, consider any of the following options:
How should I proceed?
What would you recommend as the next step?
Should I schedule more time for us discuss this?
Would it be okay if I add this to the agenda of our next meeting?
How would you like me to proceed?
Your boss’s response gives you an immediate plan of action. Also, your boss is becoming more invested because he/she is taking a moment to collaboratively consider the best way to bring your idea to fruition.