As an EVP of Innovation, I know that having the latest and greatest technology stems from the ability of my team to bring forth the ideas that make our technology cutting-edge. With a variety of backgrounds and personalities on a team, it’s important for me as a leader to be able to tune in to even the quietest, most introverted team member. Along with that, I aim to instill in my teams the tools for them to advocate for things that are important to them. Sometimes they have great ideas, and the success of those ideas is only as great as their ability to have those ideas heard. These skills can be learned. As such, here are Five Ways to Get Your Ideas Heard:
Make sure your idea is relevant. Know your company’s priorities, and focus on ways that you can improve upon those priorities. Do your research and be prepared to present reasons regarding how your idea will help to advance innovation at your company. This may be a big idea regarding a new technical avenue for the whole venture or a small suggestion about how to foster better interactions among employees. Know your audience and tailor your message appropriately.
Have reasons “why” and “why not.” Selling your idea can’t be focused solely on what it can do to help the company or the product progress. Consider both benefits and risks. When someone brings me an idea, they are often excited to talk about from where the idea came and what it can do to make the world a better place. When I ask the reasons that we should not pursue the idea, though, too often that question hasn’t been considered, or only financial impact has been considered. Considering risk isn’t a negative. It’s a sign that an employee is being thoughtful and thorough, which is critically important to the success of an idea.
Be excited, not nervous. Passion is everything. When my employees have innovative ideas, I want to hear them. When they are tentative and nervous, it becomes easy to doubt their commitment to their idea. There is no hiding passion. It becomes infectious and a force that drives a lot of great work and change. People will buy into ideas a lot sooner and deeper as excitement launches, builds, and sustains something new.
Use action verbs. Be succinct, direct, and do not soften your presentation with words like “I think” or “I believe.” I’d rather hear “this will make a difference because” than “I think this will make a difference.” If you have a great idea, you have contemplated the impact. Sell it with confidence.
Let it go. Your idea is your gift to your team or company, and you have to be willing to let it go from your grasp in order for it to become more successful than if you were to continue working on it alone. Let others expand on your idea or even modify it as appropriate. Or, if your idea falls flat, let that go, too. Not every idea is going to be a winning one. Don’t let that deter you from making the effort to present it, though.
The best, most innovative ideas come from those who are willing to take the risk to make the suggestion — and, when they do, they’re ready to present their ideas in a well-researched, passionate, effective way. This is how great ideas are heard best. A lot of hard work goes into coming up with ideas to present in the first place, and that’s a skill I try to find in employees I hire: curiosity and passion for inventiveness. Great innovation flows from great, effective team players who know how to advocate for change.