You have an important project you’d like to implement. You’ve done your initial research and have determined that it addresses your company’s business needs. You’re anxious to start already. But before you can do that, you need greenlight from your boss. The problem is,— your boss has little knowledge about your project. And he’s a tough nut to crack. How do you get him to approve?
According to experts
Convincing someone to approve an idea requires both style and substance. “Words matter”, says John P. Kotter, author, Chief Innovation Officer at Kotter International, and a professor emeritus at Harvard Business School. In other words, it’s not just about the idea. It’s also about how you present the idea.
Below I’ve compiled a top 7 list of things that may help you when presenting:
1. Consider what your audience needs
Let’s say for example your audience is the company’s CEO. How does your project benefit him/her? Start by having an understanding of what your audience is trying to achieve in his job. He/she may be looking for increased profit, reduced expenses, increased sales, etc. You have to shape your presentation in such a way that it highlights the benefits in relation to these needs.
2. Measure benefits in monetary terms
Money is a term everyone understands and appreciates, especially in the business world. So when you talk about benefits— what do they mean exactly in money terms?
3. State the urgency
You want your proposal approved yesterday? Sure. But there are other proposals on the table that are also as urgent as yours. How do you tell your audience that yours is more urgent? One thing you can do is to state in clear terms the everyday cost of not approving. Or you can do it the other way around. State the incremental profit achieved by approving the project now. For instance, you can say: if the project is approved now, we’ll start working on it around this date and finish around this date. That means around this date, we’ll have felt the reduction in CAC by X%. By the end of the year, we’ll have reaped a total accumulated savings of X%.
4. Present a clear plan
Nothing spoils a proposal more than an unclear vision of what needs to be done. Present a clear plan of action. If you need the help of other people, show who these people are and what sort of help you need from them. Indicate timelines. If you’re looking for changes in your website’s homepage or any other page, then show what these changes are and why they should be changed.
5. If you need funding in terms of tools, show how much and why
I would opt to use free tools at first before investing in paid tools, but that’s me. If you want to buy now, then by all means, tell your boss. But then, you’ll have to convince him/her why. This may make your job more difficult, but not impossible. What is it about these paid tools and why can’t you make do with free ones? What benefits can be achieved out of buying these tools? State the ROI and when the returns will most likely be achieved.
6. Keep your presentation brief and simple
Don’t beat around the bush when explaining. Keep it brief, simple, and direct to the point. If you need to explain processes or how your audience how CRO works, show visuals and diagrams. That helps digest information easily.
7. Prepare, prepare, prepare
Build up confidence by preparing. Think through what possible concerns your audience may raise during your presentation. Some of the questions your boss may ask are the following:
One thing you musn’t do is overwhelm your audience with too much details that they don’t need.
When responding to questions, respond with full confidence. This will help you win trust for yourself and for your proposal. If there are questions that you don’t know the answer to, do not dodge. Be honest about now knowing the answer, but assure your audience that you will check out as soon as possible and that you’ll get back.
Don’t assume that they will agree with your idea just because you do.
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Ateneo Graduate School of Business
University of San Carlos