Choosing the right communication vehicle for making a recommendation has a huge impact on whether your idea gets approved or not. If you’re thoughtful about your choice, the odds of getting to “yes” go up dramatically.
The following is an excerpt from my latest book The Elegant Pitch: Create a Compelling Recommendation, Build Broad Support, and Get it Approved (CLICK HERE to get your copy). The book spells out a straightforward process you can immediately use to get your ideas approved.
The first decision to make when preparing to share your recommendation is which communication format you’ll use. You could choose to write a presentation, draft a memo, send an email, leave a voicemail, or create a business case. Your format choice should be based upon the type of information you’re presenting as well as your audience’s preferred format. If your stakeholder prefers memos, write a memo. If they want a presentation, give them one. If they like emails and you leave a voicemail, your message won’t go over as well as it could.
If you deliberately ignore their communication style preference, make sure you’ve got a good reason for doing so. You might have complex data best displayed in a presentation format. If your stakeholder loves voicemails, you’d be making a mistake by translating your complex data into a format that’s not conducive to conveying that information. Imagine trying to explain a bar graph via voicemail – it doesn’t work!
One principle to remember when drafting your final communication is more is not better, regardless of which communication format you use. Long presentations get painful after five pages when your audience sees they have 35 pages yet to go. People stop reading a memo after three pages. If someone has to scroll to read your entire email, it’s too long. They’ll delete your voicemail if they don’t know what it’s about in the first thirty seconds. In an age of 140 character tweets, text messages, and thirty second videos, your challenge is to keep someone’s interest long enough to get them to approve your pitch.
When you’re not sure whether to include a detailed piece of information or not, err on the side of holding it back. Small details can always be shared in response to audience questions. If they don’t ask about it, the information isn’t important enough to share. Cramming as much detail as you can fit into your communication only serves to distract people away from your message. Stay focused on your story and the analyses or facts required to prove it. Any information beyond that is excessive.
Selecting a Communication Format