I watched a movie yesterday that made an interesting observation. A professor was frustrated with his son’s attention span because he spent endless hours on video games but couldn’t focus for a half hour on schoolwork. He tried to connect by gaming online with his son, but couldn’t get into it and gave up after a little while.
The point was made this was not lack of attention, but interest. The professor who could spend all day reading about a subject that excited him, couldn’t stick with something that didn’t even though he was highly motivated. It was no different for his son.
It’s the same in business. We spend most of our working lives focused on a very narrow slice of the pie. We get wildly excited about our own ideas, then get frustrated when others don’t immediately jump on board when they hear them.
The problem is not necessarily in them or even the idea itself, but in the limited effort put into making it sound interesting. Look at any proposal. So much time goes into agendas, backgrounds, overviews, analyses, explanations…basically the deadly boring stuff. By the time we get to the ideas, everyone is in smile and nod mode.
A client once told me he was sick of the “Ta Da” moment, the habit of most people presenting ideas to wait for the big reveal. I agree with him. Plan on how to hook them, then get to it as soon as possible.
Half the time put into preparing for the meeting should go into thinking how to merchandise the idea. What would fire up a non-expert? How can you connect it to something they do care about? Borrowed interest? Eye opening analogies? And ultimately, what’s the benefit, i.e. what’s in it for them?
It’s a rare breakthrough idea that can literally sell itself. Expect the best, but plan for the worst and be surprised how truly interested people can be.