Business Plan Presentation Tips

In business plan presentation, many times great ideas that could help your company and your career are shot down before they get a chance. Avoid that with these tips.

One of the most frustrating things in an office environment is trying to get management to take your ideas seriously.

While most companies SAY they listen to employees and consider them a valuable asset, when the chips are down, many of them do not truly give your input the time of day.

Many of us learn to shut down. We stop trying to bring up new ideas and schemes.

Yet most of us still come up with exciting ideas we're convinced are important for the company. And let's face it - if you can make your ideas stick, not only do you help make your employer more successful, but you become more important to the company leading to a reduced risk of being laid off, and a greater possibility of advancement.

On the other hand, it's human nature to resist change, and you'd be surprised how many people will try to kill your idea outright.

How can you get that idea across to management and have it taken seriously without antagonizing those around you?

Here are some tips:

1. Don't waste a lot of office time on it. If either coworkers or bosses think or suspect that you're putting a lot of office time into your zany new idea you're going to get shot down quickly. Emphasizing that a lot or all of the time preparing the proposal was done on your own time, that both lends credibility to the proposal and keeps the wolves at bay.

2. Align allies. In many cases, it makes sense to get someone else enthused about the idea first. This might be a respected coworker or someone in middle management. If it's coming from other people was well, management may take it more seriously. One warning - however trite it may sound, many other office workers will try to torpedo you due to jealousy or a perceived threat so be careful who you bring it up with (see below).

3. Know who it hurts. You already know who it helps. But who does it hurt? Those people who feel threatened by a proposal may torpedo it right out of the blocks. While working in a Spanish speaking office, I had suggested we take on this great new accounting package that would streamline operations a great deal and save money. The boss was excited and ready to buy. However, just to be sure he called in the main accountant. She immediately began to find tons of flaws in the software, and basically ripped it to shreds. Later I figured out that she actually liked the product, but was concerned that she wouldn't handle the English commands well. She was threatened by the idea and preferred the status quo. She'd never say that out loud to the boss, but that feeling caused her to torpedo it right away. Think through those people who may be hurt directly or indirectly by an idea and work to make it more palatable for them. If you start with enemies all around you, you're doomed.

4. Make sure to do you homework on costs and benefits. Your idea isn't brilliant just because it sounds great, it's brilliant because it's faster, cheaper, and more efficient than what's being done now. Try to back up concepts with hard facts. I once worked at a liquor company who was paying $20,000 a year to have their logo on a local soccer teams jersey. When I suggested skipping that and instead putting it on a scoreboard they were somewhat skeptical. When I mentioned that we could DONATE it to the city (with our logo on it of course) and that it would be the first electric scoreboard in the stadium, AND that it would cost only $8,000 and last for 10 years they sat up and took notice.

5. Anticipate objections. Think ahead on what people will say about it. Don't be blinded by your own brilliance. What are your weak points. When Jane Manager says, "Yeah, it looks good on paper, but in the real world that's not going to work," you can come back with, "I know that's how it sounds, but look, here are the numbers from Acme Company who tried something similar last year and it worked for them". Anticipate objections and come prepared to respond to them.

6. Don't try to be perfect. Don't get defensive. Nothing is more hokey that trying to say your idea is perfect. Don't try to poke holes in it, but an honest appraisal of some risks and downsides makes your presentation more solid. Phrases like, "now, I realize that this will cost more per year than we're currently paying, but it will give us an increased return due to it's efficiency and I think the return is worth the cost" sound solid and well thought out. It also covers you when costs are high - you DID mention that to start with.

7. Use management's own words. Don't be afraid to come right back at them. Listen to what they are talking about, and try to present ideas of your as solutions to problems they've raised, or as an outgrowth of something they've already done. "I was thinking about what you said at the staff meeting last week and I thought of a great solution"¦." Or "Remember how you said putting widget A into slot B might help our troubles? That got me thinking"¦ what if we also put widget A into slot C"¦." You have to be a bit careful with this one, or management will take it as their own, and leave you in the cold which brings me to"¦.

8. Take credit. Don't be obnoxious, but try to make sure that you keep clear where the idea came from. Many people will take an "underlings" idea and present it as their own. Preempt that by saying (in a staff meeting, or at a meeting with higher ups), things like, "when I brought this idea to Joe Boss on Friday, I was really excited by how he immediately helped me flesh out some of the details". You're giving him credit, but also clearly establishing where the initiative came from. You don't have to do it often. Usually two or three times, innocently said, is enough to catch in everyone's subconscious that you're the author of the deed"¦. Don't try to show anyone up though or you could engender resentment.

9. Cover your backside. Be careful that your ideas don't put you too far out on a limb. Make sure that others are coming with you so that if things don't turn out, it's clear that it was your idea, but it was everyone's decision to act on it.

10. No guts, no glory. Figure out your risk threshold. Sometimes it pays to go out on that limb. If you are in a position to do so, you've figured out how much of yourself is on the line, and you're willing to take the risk, sometimes walking the plank on your own brings the greatest glory.

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