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By Robert Townsend, from Further Up the Organization.

The usual way to sell an idea to a board of directors is to produce a stack of bulky reports in brown, red, black, or gray leatherette binders and hand them out to anyone who might be concerned. Days later, when the subject comes up for discussion, one third of those present won't have read the report, one third will have read enough to induce merciful blackout, and the remaining third, those opposed to the project, will have read carefully and assembled enough arguments to kill it outright or delay it indefinitely.

The next time you have to make a pitch in a board room, try it without notes, charts, handouts, or assistants. Remember:

  1. Most people with power would like to use it wisely, if someone believable would tell them how.
  2. They know that any proposal having to do with their business can be stated clearly and completely in less than one minute.

Why not help them out? When you know your subject cold and have a conviction, make the pitch orally. Stay under a minute. Avoid all props and end with a request for action.

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