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  • Writer's pictureNicole Papaioannou Lugara

3 Essentials to Get Stakeholders to Say Yes

If you've taken my From Data to Design class, you know I'm always say "Make it easy for them to say yes."

So how do you communicate the best learning solution in order to get buy-in? Let's talk about three strategies that can move things forward.

Own your expertise.

You were hired for your talent. Frame your pitch from that perspective. Set up a meeting, prepare to present your concept, and lead with your expertise. You could say something like "Based on the needs and goals I've identified and my experience as a learning designer, this is what we should be doing if we want to [insert impact here]."

If you need to pep yourself up, spend a few minutes before your pitch meeting writing down the following:

  • What pain points does your stakeholder have that you can solve with your design?

  • Why is this solution the right solution?

  • What's at risk if your solution isn't used?

  • What do you know that they don't?

Got an old school crowd that's looking for a leader with authority? Don't be afraid to name drop, purposefully go with the complex jargon that they can't fully understand, and give them theory until you see panic in their eyes. Sometimes, you've just gotta show that have got a much more sophisticated understanding of the context than they do. I do recommend walking it back to layperson's terminology at some point.

Show your stuff.

It can be challenging for people, especially non-L&D people, to see the design vision and understand how it will work. A prototype can help them make the connection and create consensus.

Now, that idea makes some folks uneasy. You might think you need a lot of fancy tools, like Adobe XD (which admittedly is quite useful) or graphic design skills. You might even think you need to put a lot of time in that you just don't have.

But a prototype can be simple and still impactful. If you're not an artist, you could try some of these methods instead:

  • a rough stick figure/shapes-only sketch on a piece of paper

  • a mood board made from screenshots

  • a low quality video shot with a phone

  • a few quick text-based lessons with some stock images/video

  • a paragraph-long scenario

  • 3 multiple choice questions

It doesn't have to be perfect to be effective. In fact, it's better if it isn't at this stage.

Give them options.

It's tempting to ask clients/colleagues/SMEs, "Well, what do you think about XYZ?" or "How would you feel if we tried XYZ?" But when you do-- as you might remember from last week's blog post-- you set yourself up for the no.

When people are invited to provide feedback, many are naturally included to go towards the negative. Picking out flaws can feel more like a contribution than saying nice things about an idea.

Rather than asking a lot of questions about what can and can't be done, try giving 2 to 3 options (I like the Good, Better, Best model). Most often, they'll pick the middle option.

Having options keeps them focused on choosing what you would recommend while giving them the agency to be involved in the decision-making. At the same time, limiting the choices to just two or three minimizes the bandwidth they need to make a decision, making it easier for them to make a choice.


Want help designing learning that address real business needs AND pitching those designs to stakeholders? Check out From Data to Design.

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