Like most skills, pitching an idea is a learnable skill, not one that comes naturally.

Ideas take many forms. Your idea might be:

  • an app
  • a resource
  • an intervention tool
  • a service
  • a new position in an organisation
  • a new policy direction.

 

Regardless of what it is and even if your idea is backed by irrefutable scientific evidence, at some stage you will need to pitch your idea to someone and win them over. It might not even be about gaining funding, it might just be about selling your idea to gain stakeholder engagement. So how do you prove that your idea is the best idea?

I was fortunate enough to receive some very helpful advice for how to pitch an idea as part of the D3 Digital Challenge. I would like to acknowledge David Griggs from Speaker’s Studio for sharing the following advice, which I hope I have done justice to.

 

  1. Why…

What is the relevance of your idea. Why does the world need this idea? Why is this idea relevant to the people judging your pitch? A great way to start is to use terminology or analogies that relate it back to the panel/judges/assessors. For example “You would understand …” or “Have you ever …”

 

  1. What…

This is when you really get into some more detail about describing your problem. You present all the facts, data, evidence, projections, return on investment etc. here.

You can also describe in further detail the exact problem or situation of what has gone wrong without your amazing idea. What negative outcomes have there been without your idea?

This is also the point when you establish your credibility. You can state how long you’ve been working on this idea for, what preliminary research you have done such as focus testing or needs analysis. You might also prove your credibility by talking about your qualifications, awards, partnerships, or networks to show that you are really the person (or organisation) to deliver.

 

  1. How…

This is where you describe the process of implementation of your idea. You prove how you are going to deliver. You describe how your idea will take shape, be developed or rolled out. What is the implementation and strategy to achieve your desired result?

 

  1. What if…

Now you need to finish your pitch by describing the world as a better place with the initial problem solved. What if there was “<insert your amazing idea here>” and what was saved as a result.


Whether your pitch needs to be 5 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour, you can use this format to sell your idea.

To really knock your pitch out of the park, I recommend spending 18 minutes watching Simon Sinek’s amazing TED talk about ‘starting with the why’.