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GAINING BUY-IN — Refining Your Pitch Deck for Leadership

Refining Your Pitch Deck for Leadership:

An effective pitch deck is a brief, persuasive presentation meant to mobilize interest and resources towards a new opportunity. In this case, the opportunity is one around equitable tech apprenticeship and developing a company’s own more diverse and retainable technical talent pool. While it may be overwhelming knowing where to start, you’ve already built a foundation in the “draft your early pitch” part of this toolkit. From there, you’ve collected more information and feedback and connected with enough allies in your discovery process to build your case. Below, we highlight how you can refine your early pitch into a compelling deck to help gradually gain leadership buy-in.

1. Take some pressure off by re-framing

Consider this early stage of exploration, program planning, and pitching as a discovery phase. Shape your idea enough to pitch it to leadership for buy-in, but don’t worry about having the entire program designed or details mapped out. Once you have sign-off on what you’re pitching, you can work further on getting the idea carved out with leadership, and understand upfront that there will likely be many stages of engaging and persuading them. You will develop the program design through many iterations of refinement around the initial idea, then eventually around all the elements that follow, such as the implementation plan and budget.

2. Get clear on where you will compromise and not

Before you get started, know where you’ll compromise and where you won’t. This is a great opportunity to revisit your convictions from your early pitch concept and remember the values and principles that act as your north star. Equity goals are at the core of apprenticeship and should not be compromised for other business objectives. Try to hold your company accountable to its diversity, equity, and inclusion goals, or to introduce a new standard for those goals. At the same time, recognize that in other areas, compromise is inevitable. You may need to compromise around what resources get added to the team, who you are asked to work with (stakeholders, leaders), what org-unit the sponsorship or funding comes from, additional or different scope you’re asked to take on as part of a role. Prepare to remain flexible based on what resources you learn are available to leverage. Keep in mind that some short-term compromises can be reversed down the line.

3. Message with empathy for your leadership audience

A good pitch is designed with empathy towards its audience. Some questions you can ask to show empathy for your leadership audience are:

  • What motivates the company or organization?
  • Who is it you need to convince?
  • What is the language your leadership audience uses?
  • Are there other pitch decks being circulated across the organization to learn from?
  • Can your executive sponsor help co-develop the deck?
  • How will messaging need to be adjusted for various leadership audiences across your company as you progress up the leadership chain and also cross-functionally?
  • What are some previously tested messages or arguments for apprenticeship that can be refined towards your tech leadership audience?
  • Is precedence of value to my audience and is it helpful to include examples of success other companies have had with this idea?

4) Strategically craft a concise, compelling pitch deck

Here are some pointers for crafting the actual pitch deck and pitch, which is a skill to be refined with practice.

  • Think of the deck as an executive summary of your research or discovery to date
  • Appeal to the head, heart, and action by including data, a story that sparks emotion, and clear actionable next steps or a framework for implementation.
  • Use storytelling to describe a future vision. Consider expressing this story through the eyes of a relevant or impacted person’s experience
  • Be brief and keep the main content to around five slides
  • Include one point per slide; choosing each point is a skill
  • Slide content to cover:

-Slide 1: The high level idea/opportunity, mission, and value proposition (the “why”)

-Slide 2: The problem and scale of the problem

-Slide 3: Your specific target audiences or “market”

-Slide 4: Your solution model and its unique advantages over other models

-Slide 5: Roadmap for validation and implementation

-Slide 6: Investment required

  • Align with the interests of your audience and organization.
  • Anticipate key questions that will be asked and put anything relevant to them in an appendix. This may be accomplished by doing a pre-read with a trusted person or group with leadership experience or direct experience working closely with leadership
  • Don’t be afraid to highlight your recommendations, if you are providing multiple options. Similarly, if you are challenged about alternate options, don’t be afraid to justify your recommendation. “We’ve investigated other options, but we feel this provides the best outcomes and opportunities because…”
  • It’s okay if you don’t know the answer to a question posed by leadership. Simply reply with, “That’s a great question. I don’t know offhand, but we’ll make note of it and follow up with you after this meeting.”
  • Don’t be afraid to gather feedback. Figure out the axes you are able to negotiate on and have your audience weigh in on them
  • Practice delivery!

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Tool and best practices co-designed with champions in tech Rahul Choudhury, Meana Kasi, and Angela Pablo.

Have questions or comments about the Tech Apprenticeship Equity Toolkit? Send us a note.