When you are pitching the boss, taking your idea to the big VC group, presenting to the board, or maybe even running a big idea by your team, you might want to consider whether shock and awe is the best approach.

Here is my strategy:

If I have a big pitch, I try to remember that I am already sold. I am excited. I am convinced of the merits… BUT my audience is likely hearing it for the first time. That means there is risk. My pitch may land on the table to dead silence or my raw enthusiasm can do as much damage as good.

So rather than always hit them with the full shock and awe strategy, I tend to pre-sell. I like to find an internal advocate. My best relationship and give them a preview of the idea. The point of this small step is you want a few things from them: One, you want them to be your test pilot to see how they react (does it make sense, do they see the potential, do they like it, etc..). Two, you need to identify potential hurdles or issues in advance so you can mitigate risk or at least consider how to address them when the big pitch comes. Three, you want to give someone in the audience the benefit of digesting it so they are more prepared to ask questions and participate… and more than anything, you hope they formally or informally move to “your side of the table” to sell this argument into the group.

I was talking with a great entrepreneur about this yesterday. We all know emotion can sell and go a long way, but great entrepreneurs also are always looking for ways to reduce the risk of their idea getting shot down or hamstrung out of the gates.

Shock and awe can come, but when you start winding up the emotion and delivering the BOOM, I can assure you it feels better knowing someone in the office is already smiling and likely to jump up and pound the table with you…

Consider the pre-sell!

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