Idea_bulb Convincing someone that an idea – perhaps your idea – is the best one can sometimes be more difficult than actually developing the idea itself.
From my experience, there’s five rules to follow (more or less in order) to make sure your ideas are given the proper attention they deserve as you move from brainstorming to implementation.
1. Link the idea to its purpose.
Show or demonstrate why this specific idea will help to achieve the goal and/or address or eliminate the problem. This rule grows in exponential importance to the ‘unusualness’ of the idea. In other words, the more bizarre the idea, the more you need to anchor it in reality.
2. Make influential friends.
Involve key internal/external people throughout the creative process, if possible, sooner than later. Get a clear agreement on the goal or purpose of the idea. What do they expect? What criteria will they use to the judge the best ideas? Do they have any initial ideas (even if bad) which might suggest a tone or style? Can they help contribute to the creative brief? Can they join the brainstorm, or stop by after it’s finished? Can they help select or judge the ideas?
3. Sell the sizzle, not the meat.
Some ideas simply can’t be conveyed in words, no matter how eloquent the writer. The very best ideas need to experienced just as the intended audience might see it. Most of us can’t avoid using PowerPoint altogether (and no reason to, if you use it properly), but follow this guideline: use more pictures than words. Use mood boards or hire an artist or cartoonist to show the idea ‘in action.’ Make samples or hand-outs to put the idea in the hands of the person buying it.
4. Give it time.
Some ideas need to rise, like yeast in bread. Most ideas are rarely form perfectly from the start, and given the urgency of the situation or the passion of the brainstormer, many ideas are sold too early. They might need (more) research, or an expert needs to be engaged to help adapt an idea to a situation without homogenizing it. Often it’s better to sell an idea to one trusted and influential friend to get an initial reaction than to sell it too early to the widest possible audience.
5. Protect it.
From what? Criticism, politics, internal or personal agendas, inflexibility and assumptions.
Or, in a word, negativity. This is an entire topic unto itself, one that I’ll tackle here.
“A Picture Is Worth …”
But, before I go … I can’t speak enough about how important it is to sell ideas visually. In his book Memory Techniques, James Manktelow says 65% of people learn visually, 30% learn through hearing, and 5% through simulation (kinaesthetic). If you agree, then your best presentation should have elements of all styles to engage all members of your audience.
I also see an extraordinary amount of PowerPoint documents in my workshops on “How to Write in PowerPoint,” and it’s amazing to me still that so many documents are in black & white. If you still use colour only as a template element in PowerPoint, you’re removing the single most important element to draw the eye to your key messages. But key tip: don’t put the words in colour. Put the words in white in a darkly coloured box. Much easier to read, and will work no matter the quality of the data projector.