How to Present an Idea to Your Boss

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A great idea doesn’t become reality unless you can convince your boss that the idea has merit. Your success depends on how well you can sell your boss on your idea. Before you walk into his office, make sure you’ve prepared a comprehensive presentation that emphasizes the benefits of the idea and addresses the questions you expect him to ask.

Find an Angle

Look for an angle that’s bound to intrigue your boss. Think about what interests or excites your boss or what problems he finds particularly troubling. If you can solve one of your supervisor’s problem or if your idea involves one of his favorite subjects, he might be more willing to approve your idea. For example, if you want to implement a new payroll processing system, don’t focus on the ways the new system will make your job easier. Instead, focus on the benefits to your boss, such as increased accuracy, lower costs and more detailed reports.

Prepare Your Presentation

Your great idea won’t get the attention it deserves if you can’t present it in a coherent, interesting way. Even if you plan to propose the ideal informally, it’s still a good idea to rehearse your proposal until you can deliver it confidently. Pull together supporting information, such as facts and figures and charts that illustrate your point. The more evidence you present, the more difficult it will be for your boss to say no. Include information on costs, manpower and resources you’ll need to carry out your idea, in addition to benefits. The Harvard Business Review website suggests that you meet with key stakeholders and ask for their support and input before you approach your boss. Stakeholders can help you refine your idea and bring up issues that you had not considered.

Present Your Idea

Set up a meeting with your boss to discuss your idea. If you just mention the idea in passing, your boss might not give it the consideration it deserves. It’s important to set aside time to devote solely to the idea. Don’t try to shoehorn it in during your regular weekly meeting or you might not have enough time to present the idea adequately. Start the presentation by mentioning the problem or favorite subject you identified. Explain how the idea will either solve the problem or enhance your supervisor’s pet project.

Respond to Questions

Expect objections and questions after you deliver your presentation. Objections don’t necessarily mean your idea is doomed. In fact, asking questions and raising concerns is a sign that your supervisor is considering your idea. When he asks questions, you don’t want to stumble over your words or not know the answers. Prepare a list of possible questions and concerns and practice your response before the meeting.