There is no limit to how many good ideas a person can have on any given day. From household hacks to creative business moves, inspiration can spark wherever, whenever. In fact, a recent study from a team of psychology experts at Queen's University in Canada shows that the average person has 6,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot of opportunity for greatness.
Great ideas aren’t one-size-fits-all and can look different to everyone. It might be a campaign idea, a new budget request, a small business venture, or something as simple as a happy hour idea for your team. Regardless of the magnitude of your suggestion, how you pitch it to your team, manager, or board can make a world of difference on how it’s received. A pitch deck can help you communicate your ideas to the final decision maker or stakeholder in a more organized way to get them on board with your plan. But just like a killer pitch can help back your idea, a bad pitch can kill it. Every piece of a pitch deck has a purpose from the storytelling to the images and colors— and each piece has the ability to wreck it.
Here’s how a bad pitch can kill your next great idea (and how to fix it).
The delivery can fall short
Your idea may seem groundbreaking in your head (and it probably is), but if you can’t articulate your thoughts in a way that resonates with your audience you can kiss your concept goodbye. While strong deck design is important, the delivery of your message can make or break your pitch. In order to keep the audience on track and really sell your idea, you must have a clear and structured story.
Instead of rambling to overcompensate for your nerves, try defining your story before you even open a slide in your presentation. Start with the brainstorming process and how you landed on your idea, then finish with how it will come to life. With a clear outline of why your idea is great, and a strong narrative, the rest will fall into place and make more sense on the receiving end. Not only will this make you seem like an expert on the topic, it comes off as extremely poised and professional.
The presentation is a mess and your audience doesn’t know what to focus on
You’ve heard the saying “death by PowerPoint” which refers to losing an audience to a boring or dull presentation. This is usually caused by cluttered, tired slides that lose their audience due to a lackluster design. If your audience can’t focus on one thing on the slide, or is confused by what they’re supposed to be looking at, you’re probably going to kill your pitch before you even begin.
Instead of adding everything but the kitchen sink to your presentation, keep it clean and professional. Your presentation should paint a picture of your idea. Stick to a single theme— the same fonts, color scheme, and icon style— and only use images that make sense to your pitch. And when in doubt remember that less is more— you want your audience to be able to read what’s in front of them without having to unscramble your slides to understand the key takeaways.
Your pitch isn’t engaging enough
The cardinal rule to a successful pitch is to hook your audience from the beginning. If your presentation deck on your great idea doesn’t hold your audience’s attention, they’ll lose interest. Ultimately losing interest in your idea as a whole. Bam: there goes your new plan, product, or business.
Instead of leaving it up to them, control their attention with engaging elements throughout your pitch. You can animate your slides so that they advance in lively ways, or incorporate a video or gif into a few slides throughout your deck. The movement will draw their eyes back to you and your idea.
The next steps aren’t clear
You’re done with your pitch (congratulations), now what? Just as important as the initial delivery of the presentation is the follow through. If a call-to-action or next steps aren’t clearly listed out, your audience may forget about your idea altogether as soon as they leave.
Instead of ending your pitch with a “thank you”, call your audience to action and get them excited. What are the next steps to get the idea into motion and what do you need from them? To improve retention, leave them pondering what you said and how they can play a role in bringing the idea to life. You might also send your presentation deck to your audience a few days following the meeting as a tangible reminder of what you discussed. Keeping your idea top of mind will help secure their support.