How to pick the best pitch: a tool for executives

We've created a new tool so that the executive panel evaluates ideas based on the best criteria, and pitching teams have a cheat sheet to prepare.
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There is nothing more tragic than a stellar idea ending up on the garbage heap because a jury judged a business proposal poorly. That’s why we’ve designed a tool to help evaluators understand what to look for in pitches, and assess them according to the right criteria.

After teams have gone through a Design Thinking program or a corporate accelerator, there is a mountain of important information that needs to be condensed into a 5 or 10-minute presentation. It’s a daunting task for teams to choose what to include from all the material gathered from months of work — scoping, problem exploration, solution development, business modeling.

As an evaluator, you need to have the proper tools at your disposal in order to look at all these aspects of the innovation journey and pick the best business proposal. This could mean judging according to different metrics than you’re used to.

How senior stakeholders should use it

The trouble with the pitching process can sometimes be that stakeholders often only have bottom lines in mind or have a fixed idea about product or service solutions. The tendency is to come into the room with feasibility foremost in your thoughts. This leads to overlooking the more important question of desirability and can undermine the entire innovation process.

To avoid this from happening, we often train senior and executive managers on how to coach innovation teams. Based on this experience, we designed this evaluation sheet so that executive panelists can better understand the ideas that program participants are putting forward and not jump immediately to the money side of things.

The evaluation sheet asks you to consider other metrics in addition to financial figures when making decisions. It is a way to overcome profit bias and open your minds to solutions that are outside the company’s traditional way of working. This means being receptive to ideas you might not normally give a second glance.

With 25 criteria to vote on, our tool ensures a fairer outcome. It also provides a better guarantee that the idea you choose will be the most innovative one. What’s more, the evaluation sheet can be shared with the team afterwards to offer them thorough feedback and help them with their next steps.

How pitching teams should use it

We’ve included specific questions to help teams think like a jury and assess their own pitches from the executive panel’s position. The pitch evaluation sheet is a kind of self-evaluation form. It is the teams’ last chance to figure out what’s missing or discover the weak points. It is also a good thing to refer to after a dry-run in front of other teams to make sure it is as close to finished as they can make it. The evaluation sheet is the best tool to use during mock pitches and to feel confident and well-prepared before you, the jury.

Keep reading for more pitching tools

Do your teams need help developing their executive pitch?
The two tools below will help them go from early draft stages to the real deal before a panel.

The pitching canvas is designed as a working template for teams to build the storyline of their idea from customer problem to go-to-market plan. By sketching out the building blocks of the idea through each stage — problem discovery, iteration, solution testing, etc. — teams can walk the executive jury through their journey.

We’ve included 6 categories to help teams pick and choose what to include as they craft their pitch. From describing the first moment of contact with the customer to fielding the executive panel’s questions at the end, the pitching canvas is an outline to help make writing the pitch a streamlined process. Start with sticky notes (the paper version of an elevator pitch), fill in each square of the canvas, and then build upon it.

Pitching checklist​

The pitching checklist is what teams should use after they’ve filled out the pitching canvas and figured out what is critical to put in it, and what isn’t. The checklist is a way to test whether the pitch is ready, or if it needs to have information either taken out or added in. It is a way for team members to challenge each other on their ideas, and a guide to flesh it out.

A completed pitch checklist means that a team thinks it has covered all of its bases and is in good shape to be cross-checked by other pitching teams using the pitch evaluation sheet (see below). The questions we’ve included are intended to guide them in the right direction so that they know what to tweak.

Need help?

Do your teams need help going from problem exploration to executive pitch?
Our corporate accelerator program could be what you’re looking for.

Thanks for reading!

I’m Nick Bogaert, Innovation Strategist @ Board of Innovation. Spreading innovation culture is in our DNA – if you liked the read, contribute to our mission by sharing this article.

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