Make people fall in love with your ideas

You never know till you try to reach them how accessible people are; but you must approach each person by the right door.
— Henry Ward Beecher, 1887
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Make people fall in love with your ideas. How’s that for a compelling subtitle? It made me buy the book. A small 150-page book, well designed with interesting illustrations and well written. A thoughtful and practical book with proven methods and fresh ideas.

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When you consult, have written a book and run workshops on persuasion, why would you buy another book? Well we are always looking for fresh insights and new perspectives. Some ideas are similar to what you have seen before but sometimes you find ideas that provoke you to think differently.

At Gordian, we like simple and practical tools. So, the book’s one-page plan is our kind of plan, just five questions:

  1. Goal: What is your goal for this project?

  2. Context: What are the constraints and enablers that influence the possible outcome?

  3. Idea: What’s your idea in one sentence?

  4. USP’s: What are three unique aspects that make the idea stand out?

  5. Requirements: What’s needed to make this idea happen? e.g. budget, time, people and hardware.

 The book has many stories and simple examples to illustrate pitfalls and problems.

Allocating Time: What’s the mix of pitch versus people?

According to Dutch author Jeroen, it’s 90% and 10%. 10% on the pitch and 90% on the people. That made me stop reading because I had never considered how much time for each part. It’s obvious to anyone with experience that you must consider both: pitch and people. However, I had never tried to put a number on it.

I agree you need to spend far more time on people than on pitch.  If you doubt this, ask yourself when did you have a great pitch that failed?  We all have war stories about the great pitch that did not work: the perfect product, the perfect solution that the customer did not buy.

When we analyse the reasons it usually the same: people. We did not understand correctly who was involved in the decision; The audience were solving a different problem; The audience wanted more detail or the audience wanted less detail.

It’s not about the pitch.  Convincing people isn’t just about persuading people to like your idea; it’s about the buy-in you create and the personal connection you have with the people you are pitching to.
— Jeroen Van Geel
Buy-in: agreeing with and accepting something someone suggests.
— Jeroen Van Geel

Based on my experience, I think the mix should be 80% and 20%.  Investing more time in understanding people makes it easier to frame a more persuasive message; Take 80% of your time  to discover what’s important to the people you need to persuade; Take 20% of your time to connect what you want to what the people already think is important.

Next time you’re preparing to pitch your idea, remember the simple equation:

80% People | 20% Pitch
Make people fall in love with your ideas