You need to create a persuasive pitch that will convince your boss, leaders and/or other stakeholders to support your proposed approach.

Here's the first thing to remember: Facts don't persuade. Yes, you need data to support your case, but don't assume that stuffing your pitch with stats is going to convince your stakeholders to say yes.

Instead, follow these five steps to make your pitch successful:

  1. Make sure you really have their attention. Engage the folks you're trying to persuade by starting out with a compelling element: a story, a visual, a quote or an amazing fact. To make it even more powerful, relate that element to your stakeholders' concerns.
  2. Establish a need. It's all very well and good that you care about your topic. But why should stakeholders? Introduce a challenge or issue that needs to be resolved, and discuss the ramifications if the issue isn't resolved. Then really hit home by bringing it back to the stakeholders' needs (yes, again). This is a good place to use facts to make it clear that this isn't just your opinion; you've done your homework and analyzed the issue.
  3. Propose a solution. Now that you've got your audience members on the edge of their seats, here's your golden opportunity to provide the solution. Focus on the WIIFMs (What's In It For Me) by describing how the organization and groups and individuals will benefit. Draw from past experiences to describe past situations where a similar approach was successful. And anticipate possible concerns and address them as part of your solution.
  4. Paint a picture. Visualization is one of the best tools you have in your persuasive toolkit. Describe your proposed solution by helping your audience members visualize what life will be like when your proposal is implemented. Help them picture how things will change for the better (and remind them of unfortunate consequences if things don't change.)
  5. Call for action. As they say in Hollywood, you need a boffo finish. Summarize your core message by reviewing the points in steps 1 through 4. Don't assume that because people are not disagreeing that they've bought in, so ask for them to voice their support. Demonstrate your own commitment by saying what you're going to do to implement your plan. And, finally, issue a call to action: explicitly state the support you need to be successful.

Congratulations! You persuaded stakeholders to approve your pitch. Now the hard work begins.