There are some challenges in taking technical innovations ‘to market’.
One is how do you communicate your innovation to a non-technical, commercial audience?
How do you explain your ideas (and/or present them) clearly and powerfully?
Sad, but true: even great ideas don’t succeed on their own.
The Challenge of Communicating your Innovation
Let’s face it, some innovations can be difficult to explain – especially to non-technical stakeholders such as investors, bankers and potential collaborators or clients.
And it’s true whatever your business – be it a new medical or pharmaceutical product, a new process or coating, or the manufacturing of a new material.
A month ago, a colleague of mine, who is a mentor at Oxford’s Innovation Forum, attended a ‘fireside chat’ science seminar between Rajarshi Banerjee (Founder of Perspectum Diagnositics) and Jason Lettiere (Investment Banker at Merril Lynch).
Within their discussion they looked at ‘common pitfalls in translating science’. They related how, on first meeting, Jason had repeatedly asked Rajarshi to explain his innovation….until he fully understood it and could relate it to others. A process which Rajarshi had valued and recognised as essential learning to winning investment and growing his business.
A useful nudge for us all, maybe?
I’ve heard some scientists say that – because their niche is so narrow and detailed – it can even be challenging explaining their ideas to other scientists.
How to explain your innovation – 7 Tips
Winning people’s interest requires imagination, ingenuity, persistence – and practice.
To get you started, here are 7 tips:
1. A good starting point is the problem that your innovation addresses – and ideally something taken from peoples’ everyday lives. Such a ‘hook’ will engage your readers from the start and keep them listening for your ‘solution’. Remember, people aren’t usually interested in ‘how’ your innovation works, but what difference or benefit it will bring. Only explain the technical side if you are asked ‘how?’
2. Put yourself in the shoes of the people receiving the advantages of your innovation. Using stories, and tapping into their emotions, can excite and persuade them. Using analogies and examples can help you explain difficult concepts.
3. Have several examples up your sleeve of how your innovation can be used, so that you can choose one best suited to the person in front of you – tailoring your choice for their sector, occupation, angle of interest, etc. It’s no good thinking your innovation is suitable ‘for everyone and anyone’.
4. Prepare an ‘elevator pitch’, in which you summarise your idea, and get it down to less than a minute. Before using it, try it on someone without any prior knowledge, to check your idea is easily understood. (Why not schedule a free 30 minutes with me, and see if I understand it?)
5. Get feedback on your pitch, and always be prepared to do some tweaking – in order to improve and perfect it.
6. Get some (ideally professional) feedback on your presentation skills, body language and tone of voice – and on how to watch and listen for similar cues in others. (I can help you with this!). Be aware of cultural differences (Read the fabulous book ‘Cultural Chemistry’ by Patti McCarthy. £14 on Amazon)
7. Once you find the formula, keep repeating it. Consistency of message is critical so that others can become advocates of your innovation.
And finally, don’t just broadcast your ideas within your business world. Your family may have connections you don’t know about, and so too may … your friends … their partners … and others.
Try out your pitch on a non-technical audience – Contact me to arrange a 30-minute session – Get some considered feedback.