The role of leader comes with a certain authority that allows us to gain buy-in from others - simply because of our job title. But this authoritarian approach is not only outdated, it’s also not very effective. It may appear that we’ve successfully engaged others in our plans, but are they really committed? And, of course, there are those who are out of our span of control – the Board, for example. So, is there a better way? Yes, of course. We call it ‘the internal pitch’.
Imagine that you need to gain support from the Board, the Executive Team or even your peers. You need their support for a change you are recommending – a new structure, increased funding or a change in process or practice. To successfully achieve your goal, you’ll need to use your influence and a range of other competencies – all of which can be learned.
The thought of ‘pitching’ may be off-putting to some – it’s essentially a sales skill, and selling is something that not everyone is comfortable with. Thankfully, through professional coaching and a conscious process of continuous improvement, anybody can learn how to pitch their ideas and successfully engage the support of their target audience.
Here are the four steps to a killer internal pitch:
1. Make it strategic – plan a presentation that has a clear objective and a logical structure that takes the audience towards that objective. It must be linked to the organisation’s strategic focus.
2. Make a compelling case – the recommendation should be framed in a way that focuses on the benefits to the specific audience you are addressing. It also needs to consider their potential ‘pain points’. Add evidence through a case study to support your argument.
3. Make it memorable – your delivery style needs to connect with your audience. Create a commanding presence that is consistent with the compelling case. Above all, the delivery style should add an appropriate level of theatre that makes the presentation credible and memorable.
4. Make it relevant – ensure that the content, the language and examples you use really resonate with your audience, not just with you.
A word of warning: If the stakes are high, you need to make sure you have rehearsed your pitch to the point where you can concentrate on making an impact, rather than on what you are going to say next. The Boardroom is not the place to deliver your pitch for the first time!