OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Pitching: the Bridge between Idea and Reality

A light, easy-to-implement tool to present ideas concisely and persuasively, embedded in basic course work.

Photo of silvia pulino

Written by

Any project starts with an idea that is then communicated to others in order to gain consensus, support and resources to make it come true. In the early phases, the window of attention may be very short. The proposal is to create a one-minute university-wide pitch competition, the preparation for which is embedded in Language or Composition courses. The pitch can be articulated into different categories, so that students can propose business ideas, a social cause, a think design project, or present themselves for a job opportunity.

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

This proposal is designed for students in higher education, cutting across all majors. Most students finish their education knowing how to write theses and make long presentations, but relatively few are trained in public speaking (usually an elective course). The proposed competition forces all participants to overcome stage fright, and to focus on the fundamental aspects of their idea. It builds confidence and tangibly shows how to take the first steps towards changing the world.

This idea emerged from:

  • An individual

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

The project is easy to adopt and implement, with very little cost to the hosting institution, once there is buy in. The difficult part is to promote the idea and get it adopted. It needs 'champions' that can give it visibility and gain support for it. It can work anywhere; in non English speaking countries it can be used in the local language or in English to enhance language learning. In particular, I would like to spread it in Italy, where there are few opportunities to gain practical skills.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I have already implemented it successfully at John Cabot University, an American university located in Rome, Italy. I have gained the support of colleagues teaching Composition, Business Communication, Public Speaking and some Business / Entrepreneurship courses. It runs every semester, involving roughly 10% of the student population at each edition; in a four-year cycle, it means that approximately 70-80% of students will have done it at least once before graduation.

Tell us about your work experience:

I currently am a professor of Business and Entrepreneurship at John Cabot, arriving to academia after nearly 20 years of international business experience. I also created and direct the university's Institute for Entrepreneurship, where my mission is to "contaminate" the entire student body with an entrepreneurial spirit.

10 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Terry Hosler
Team

Silvia,

I have used this in the past with high school and college students.  I like the term 'pitch'.  We have used the title 'elevator speeches'.  They are 1-2 minutes long.  Very concise but a quick way to 'share their passion' .  It became obvious for the need to have these ready for a variety of topics when I had some students at a conference.  They got in the elevator and a couple of international guests read a location or organizational name on their name tag. ' What is that?', they asked.  My students had the length of the elevator ride to explain with some degree of understanding what it was infusing some passion in their explanation.

I am sure you have found, as we did, that the students were empowered while the listener was impressed.  Be sure your students also know it is a great technique for those 'networking receptions' as well.

Photo of silvia pulino
Team

yes, it is amazing how much you can pack into that one minute once you get the hang of it. I know that in the States the idea of pitching is much more widely spread; in Italy there is very little done in that direction; when I work on the pitch with young researchers (PhDs), their first reaction is that what they do is too difficult to be summarised in one minute - it really changes their outlook when I show them they can. It is easier to work with undergrads and high schoolers.

Photo of silvia pulino
Team

yes, it is amazing how much you can pack into that one minute once you get the hang of it. I know that in the States the idea of pitching is much more widely spread; in Italy there is very little done in that direction; when I work on the pitch with young researchers (PhDs), their first reaction is that what they do is too difficult to be summarised in one minute - it really changes their outlook when I show them they can. It is easier to work with undergrads and high schoolers.
The trick to make it work on a wider scale at John Cabot was to gain the support of teachers and embed it in courses, now it only takes minimal organisation for it to function, and we reach about 10% of the student body every semester.

View all comments