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6 ways to nail your next big presentation

October 8, 2015, 5:06 PM UTC
Courtesy of Deutsch

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How do you get buy in for a new idea? is written by Kim Getty, president of Deutsch LA.

Whether pitching a concept to a brand or making the case for an idea internally, advertising is all about selling. Having had my fair share of failed “sales,” I’ve learned that companies don’t buy ideas — people do. You can know the ins and outs of a business problem, but if you don’t approach stakeholders as humans first and foremost, you’re not going to connect with them in a meaningful way.

Here are a few human-centric approaches I keep at the front of my mind when I’m working to get someone to buy in to an idea, and not just buy it:

Start by listening
You’re never going to come up with the solution your clients or managers want if you don’t understand what they need. The very first step to getting buy in is to listen. It’s the quickest and best way to form an understanding of the person you’re working for and the people you’re working with. Use what you learn by listening to bring genuine empathy into your solution and bring your idea forward in a narrative that stakeholders can relate to emotionally.

Take your time
The element of surprise has no place when you’re pitching an important idea, so don’t show up to a presentation with a big ta-da. Give people time to get comfortable with your thinking and your progress by feeding them information and inviting their input (in a genuine way) as you go.

See also: The worst thing you can do when pitching an idea to your boss

Share the credit
Instead of saying “I,” start with “we.” It’s amazing what changing one pronoun can do. When you frame an idea or a project as a team effort and give credit where it’s due, it changes the conversation in all the right ways.

Test and prototype
Gather as much information as you can about how your idea will perform in the real world. Whether you’re exposing concepts through social channels (we like to use blind Facebook ads) or getting feedback from consumers face to face, it’s crucial to get real-world input on your idea to make it as strong as possible before presenting it. And use today’s technology, like 3D printers, to make your ideas feel more “real” when you share them.

Let the evidence make the argument
After you’re done testing, come to every meeting or presentation armed with real consumer and marketplace input that illustrates the potential impact of your idea. When the data is on your side, stakeholders can more clearly see what the solution can do for them and have less of a chance to poke holes.

Remember that passion wins
The best ideas are original, meaning that despite all of our research and data, there’s not often a clear precedent for how to make them or precisely why they will work. They also take time to bring to life, which means that they risk dying over and over again. Having enthusiasm and conviction for your vision is more often than not the difference-maker.

Read all responses to the MPW Insider question: How do you get buy in for a new idea?

The surprising thing that can help you sell a tough idea by Robin Koval, president and CEO of Truth Initiative.

So your boss hates your new idea. Here’s what to do next by Kathy Delaney, global chief creative officer at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness.

This CEOs best tip for raising venture capital by Carolyn Rodz, CEO of Market Mentor.

The one fear even the best business leaders have by Mary Godwin, VP of operations at Qumulo.

How to make sure your new business idea isn’t a total dud by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.

How to avoid complete failure when pitching a new business idea by Laura Cox Kaplan, regulatory affairs and public policy leader at PwC.

Proof even the best business ideas get ripped apart by Jodi Cerretani, senior director of marketing at MobileDay.

Here’s how to make sure your next ideas meeting isn’t a total fail by Kristin Kaufman, founder and president of Alignment, Inc.

Why managers need to stop sugar-coating the truth by Perry Yeatman, CEO of Perry Yeatman Global Partners.

How this CEO keeps her employees coming back after maternity leave by Gay Gaddis, CEO and founder of T3.

The number one way to motivate employees by Karen Quintos, CMO of Dell.