Part of why you must pitch your idea clearly is the need to secure the resources that will help your idea reach the full potential of its impact. Social entrepreneurs must give extra attention to how they present their ideas. Balancing purpose and profit calls for a clear understanding of what needs to be communicated to which audience. Social impact is always the top priority, but presenting the execution of an idea requires the perspective of logistics, costs, and benefits to be considered.
Presenting your idea clearly and effectively empowers you to loop others into your projects. So, when might you need to pitch your idea?
Attending a social enterprise accelerator
Meeting impact investors
Submitting for a competition
Sharing your efforts when an opportunity arises
It’s important to note that learning to present your idea also helps you better communicate the value of the solution you propose. People sometimes say that bad ideas and good ideas can look the same on the surface. In some cases, a bad idea is ultimately accepted if that bad idea is presented more clearly and more persuasively than a poorly communicated good idea.
You should get a pitch together so you don’t miss out on resources that can help you fulfill your mission. At the very least, you need a basic way to showcase your involvement with your idea. Telling others about your involvement through a considerate pitch will encourage others to be curious about your cause.
How to Pitch
A pitch is your chance to highlight a problem, share a solution, and state what it will take to make the solution come to life. Rather than an extravagant pitch with loads of information, you want a clear and concise pitch. Doing so directs the attention to what’s most important. You can create a clear and concise pitch by organizing your pitch into simple sections.
1. Set the Scene: Start off by introducing what led you to discover this problem.
An almost stress-free way to ease into this is to begin with introducing yourself. Then, you set the scene with a story of how you first came in contact with the problem that inspired you to find a solution.
Starting with a story brings your humanity into play. People like feeling connected and seeing where they match with someone. As you tell your story, you might mention your hometown, a hobby, or a favorite show that someone in the audience also likes. It can seem unimportant or random, but those are the moments where people see themselves in you. That person who resonated with you is now slightly easier to convince.
Another way to do this without putting the focus on you is to tell a story where someone else is the main character. Talk about a stakeholder in the problem you are trying to address. People have a chance to connect as you set the scene, and you don’t have to place yourself at the center if you choose not to.
Remember, sometimes you don’t win everyone over all at once, but person by person. Focus on creating moments where people can connect to the journey and the idea you present.
2. Share the Dilemma: Explain why the problem didn’t have a solution yet.
Hear us out. You know you will talk about the problem. The audience knows you will talk about the problem. To help you bring attention to the crucial parts of what’s going on, we encourage you to talk about why the problem didn’t have a solution yet.
If the barrier to the problem was easier, the problem would be gone. Therefore, the issue is not simply the problem itself. The issue is the problem and the perceived (or actual) barriers keeping the problem from being addressed.
Let’s use an everyday example that could happen to anyone. You find a new app that you want to download on your phone, but it gives you a notification that you need to update your phone software first. You go to update the phone’s software, but you get another notification that you need to do the update over WiFi, which you don’t have connection to in that moment.
If you could connect to WiFi, you could easily update your phone software and download the app. Your problem is that you can’t download the app. However, the issue (barrier) is that you don’t have access to WiFi. Ironically, your solution is to get access to WiFi. The solution is more connected to the barrier than it is to the problem.
Share the barriers that keep your problem alive and well. It will give the audience more context for why you are choosing your approach. Alongside that, this can help them picture why the problem lasted so long.
3. Share the solution: Explain how the solution addresses the dilemma.
It’s your idea’s time to shine! After you set the scene and give the context of the dilemma, you can reveal the solution. When you speak about your idea, describe how the solution takes care of the barrier to addressing the problem. You get to showcase the unique insight of your idea.
Keep the context of your audience in mind to add extra lines that speak directly to the interests of the people you are asking to support your idea. You might mention profits and brand awareness in a room full of impact investors. During a separate pitch, you might mention the importance of family and community recreation in a room full of neighborhood officials.
If you want to get ahead, we suggest proactively addressing push back. Most people have follow up questions. It’s not that people want you to fail. We are all human, and one of our evolutionary traits is that we typically try to avoid pain (like failure). The people you are asking for support may be nervous about taking a chance to invest if they have unanswered concerns. They’ll either ask you questions or not take a chance.
You get ahead by addressing the questions you think people have concerns about as you explain your solutions. You can actually get even better at this overtime. If you notice people have the same concern about a certain aspect of your idea, talk about it as you explain your solution. The audience will give less pushback, and feel more confident in what you are sharing.
4. Refine your pitch: Get feedback on your presentation.
You may find yourself doing multiple pitches. The good thing about doing multiple pitches is that you get to refine the pitch. Each time you complete a presentation try to gain some feedback.
This depends on who and where you are pitching, but the aim is to ask at least one question that gives you a better understanding of what someone thought during your pitch. Keep in mind you want to be careful not to focus on what the person thought “about” your pitch. People don’t always know how to put their thoughts into words that are constructive.
Feedback on what a person thought “about” your pitch:
“I like the cause that you support, but the pitch was a little boring.”
Feedback on what a person thought “during” your pitch:
“You shared something I didn’t know, so I liked the cause you support, but I kind of zoned out when you started talking about all the statistics.”
Asking someone what they thought during your pitch helps them recall a certain part and use more descriptive language. Since they give you more context, you can make note of that feedback to make actionable edits to your pitch.
Test Your Pitch Out
That’s all you need to start working on your pitch. If you’re not quite ready to test your pitch out in real-time, do a self evaluation.
We recommend recording a video of your pitch, then assess yourself through the four steps. You can look over the video to see if you hit the points you wanted to or delivered the presentation in an engaging way. Extra bonus: Send the video to a person you trust and ask for feedback.
Use these four tips to gather the support you need for your solution. You’ll do great.