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« Persuasive Thinking »



Ever have to sell an idea in a meeting? Are you good at it? I had a rather unpleasant experience animating a planning session with a group where someone wasn't. A participant didn't succeed is selling his agenda to the team and then decided that the fault lay with the process and/or with the group's unwillingness to listen to him and/or with the animators who led the process.

I didn't have the opportunity to tell the man what I saw during our time together - that he was so focused on the value of his own ideas that he remained rather oblivious to the impact they might have on the company's overall plans. The sad thing is that most of his idea was adopted and the aspects people couldn't decide on had to do with his not having the required information... like the costs and timelines.

Overall, he was frustrated because he felt he not accorded the couple of hours of undivided attention and receptivity he thought he needed to sell his views to the others. Well duh - neither did anyone else. There was dialogue in which his ideas were heard but they were not all agreed to.

He should have known this particular session was not the place to make his pitch.

I thought I'd protect myself and others from any further such unpleasantness with the following tool which answers: How can I persuasively sell my ideas in a meeting?

From now on, if I spot someone floundering in a meeting, I'll slip him or her the following guidelines during a health :


Determine the following before deciding how to engage your persuasive force :

Intent: What's the reason for the meeting? A strategic planning session might not be the venue to float a new marketing scheme. What's the reason for your own intervention? If you'd rather be right than adhere to the objectives set for the group you'll only build resentment for your own ideas. If you focus on facilitating a creative outcome that's good for all concerned, you'll foster a greater receptivity to your own ideas.

Timing: Look at larger issues such as budgets, past experiences with similar ideas, and annual planning cycles, etc..

Audience: Is there a possibility that a portion of your audience will not be receptive to your idea and if so, what can you do anything about it?

Champion: Do you have a key person or decider within the group that will actively support you or your idea? Are there strong endorsers of your idea? Do you have all the needed paperwork?

Be strategic and understand the following:

K.I.S.S. - Keep an « I » on Strategic Selling.... People may have no idea where you are coming from so avoid technical jargon they might not resonate to - but do display ownership for your ideas and do passionately explain them to others.

Make the need for your idea clear to everyone by providing them with all the facts that originally stimulated the need for it. Describe the problem your idea will solve, who will be involved, how long it will take and how much it will cost, and explain why the problem needs to be solved.

Be aware of the pros, the cons and the alternatives to your idea, avoid a one-sided presentation that distorts the idea's worth and let better ideas rule.

Talk « value » and provide evidence that recommends your idea, show why it will work and why it should be better than other ideas. Do not exaggerate

Stress key points when selling ideas and avoid unnecessary details. Quantify the value added that your idea represents.

Separate questions from objections - by anticipating them and developing answers for them. Keep things abstract, don't take it personal. People may have very legitimate reasons for not thinking like you do, or for not seeing your ideas the same way. Don't translate this as an objection to you... unless you become objectionable.


Be persistent especially if you have faith in the idea. Be willing to put every effort. Do not be antagonistic to those who resist your ideas but do spell out their merits. If your idea is not adopted, the graciousness with which you accept and rally round the winning view is a measure of how people will want to respond to you the next time. Repair any egos you bruised during the process and prepare for Round 2.

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