“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.”
The Roman poet Ovid may have said this over 2,000 years ago, but his words are just as relevant today as they were then.
Yes, coming up with new ideas is difficult — but presenting those ideas can be even more of a challenge. How can you keep your new idea alive? Here are three suggestions for maximizing your chance of success.
1. Frame your idea in the context of leadership’s key priorities
The more your idea aligns with what’s most important to your leadership team, the more likely it is to be adopted. In business, sometimes big ideas don’t go anywhere not because they’re bad, but because they just aren’t a priority of leadership at the time. So, when you introduce your idea, make sure you frame it in a way that acknowledges at least one major concern of leadership.
2. Get ready to answer tough questions
Whenever you introduce a new idea, you’re guaranteed to encounter at least some resistance. The bigger your idea is, the tougher the questions are going to be, so make sure you anticipate potential questions ahead of time.
Separate potential questions into three categories: Black, white and gray. “Black” questions are negative, perhaps even outright hostile — here are a few of my strategies for responding to hostile questions. “White” questions are positive and, of course, easier to answer. “Gray” questions are somewhere in the middle. You need to practice answering as many questions as possible from all three categories if you want to maximize buy-in when you introduce your idea.
3. Be passionate without being overly emotional
Finally, while having passion for your idea is great, you need to manage your emotional level. When your emotional level is too high, you gesture more, your intensity increases, and you tend to speak faster. You draw attention to your behavior rather than your message. You want senior leaders to be more focused on your idea, so make sure you maintain a comfortable pace and rhythm.
You may think you have the best idea your company has ever developed. But if you don’t propose it in the right way, your idea may never see the light of day. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll increase buy-in and enhance your leadership presence.