Pitch Your Project Like A Neophyte

For those about to pitch your video idea to a group, we salute you. This three-part series is designed to help you decide on a style for your presentation and approach to the decision makers in your organization. We encourage you to pick the style that best suits you, the idea in question, and the decision-makers in your organization. And when you’ve been given the green light, let us know- we’re ready to start production and help however we can!

We’d all love to believe that the weight of our ideas alone will get them approved by the powers that be, but behavioral science has proven that this is often not the case. Organizational behavior scientist Kimberly Elsbach has done extensive research on how creative ideas are proposed and received, and she has identified three successful archetypes for the successful “pitchmaster.” Today, we’re focusing on the creative as neophyte.

About the neophyte, Elsbach says:

Instead of displaying their expertise, they plead ignorance. Neophytes score points for daring to do the impossible, something catchers see as refreshing. Unencumbered by tradition or past successes, neophytes present themselves as eager learners. They consciously exploit the power differential between pitcher and catcher by asking directly and boldly for help—not in a desperate way, but with the confidence of a brilliant favorite, a talented student seeking sage advice from a beloved mentor.

Most decision makers recall their early days experimenting with new ideas. Neophyte pitches capitalize on that memory, allowing the “catcher” to serve as contributor and advisor at once. Both parties benefit from this; the former gains understanding of the professional landscape, the latter gets to pass on knowledge in a mentor-like capacity. However, while accepting the guidance of the decision makers, those pitching should maintain control over the final product, especially if putting these ideas on film is new to everyone in the room. To maintain that balance, consider the following tips:

Acknowledge, then temper, it. If you’re new to the video pitching process, it is completely okay to acknowledge that. However, in deciding to package and present it as an executable idea, you have power in the situation- do not give that away. Newness is only a weakness if you cede your strength. Rather than allowing your idea to dissipate amidst more experienced voices, articulate the process that led you to the idea, drawing on resources you assembled and people you consulted. The idea may be new to you, but it wasn’t luck- you worked for it. Walking others through your process will show them that you did do work to arrive at your proposal.

Be open and eager to learn. Liz Wiseman, author of Rookie Smarts, is adamant about the role of rookie being acceptable if individuals are willing to work to grow out of it. A “rookie mindset” is ideal for all of us; it encourages asking questions and exploring new ideas that many abandon once they become “veterans.” If you’re new to video development, decision makers will likely seize this opportunity to educate you on the parts of the process or customer experience your video seeks to highlight, and how your vision can fit in their landscape. Take this opportunity seriously, don’t dismiss it as meddlesome. In fact, ask questions- invite input and knowledge. Even if you want to hold tightly to a creative vision, find a piece of the project where you’re willing to cede influence. This willingness to collaborate will help you earn the reins for other parts of the video that you want more experience with.

Draw on prior successes. Your status as a newbie may invite questions of your ability to execute the vision you have in mind for your video. Not unlike a job interview, you may be asked for your credentials or your past experiences, perhaps past videos or creative endeavors. Seize this opportunity to draw comparisons to past projects where you excelled, created something new, or made a tight deadline. Make it easy for these veterans to see that you can create work that will make them proud. If it helps, line up others to attest to your talent and work ethic; these testimonials could bolster your case and give you the nudge to center stage that you’re dreaming of.

When you get the all-clear to take center stage, please let the team at Trove know so we can help you create your debut feature- we’re looking forward to shining the spotlight on your new project!