Your Ideas Are Not Getting Approved. Here’s One Way to Fix That.

It’s frustrating when our ideas are not approved, especially when we’ve put weeks into writing and finetuning a business presentation – only for our ideas to be brushed aside. But that’s what happens when we’re misunderstood – people cannot see the merits of what we’re trying to present.

Because we’re misunderstood, our (often good) ideas are not implemented and our ability to make a difference in our organisation is diminished. If we want to make a bigger impact in our organisation, we must ensure that we’re understood. But how do we help people to understand us?

We’ll have to first make the effort to understand them. 

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” – Stephen Covey

When we understand our audience, we’re able to speak their lingo. We’ll be able to appeal to their motivations and handle objections before they come up.


Why are we misunderstood?

Let’s take two very different groups of employees – engineers and accountants. They often meet during project ideation and they have vastly different expectations. 

Often, when engineers are presenting to accountants, they focus on the engineering details while glossing over the concerns that accountants might have, such as the budget or return on investment. And when the engineers don’t address the accountant’s concerns, their presentations rarely do well. 

But this is an obvious example of two groups with opposing expectations. Often, the difference in expectations are not so obvious. What if you’re presenting to your CEO or to an external client, where it’s harder to understand their needs, wants, and expectations? You’ll have to do some digging.


Here’s how you can understand your audience better:

1) When you’re presenting to senior managers within your organisation

Talk to someone within your organisation who has worked with your audience. Or speak to someone who has presented to them. Ask questions such as: 

  • What’s he like as a person?
  • Is she a big picture person or a detail-oriented person?
  • What does he expect out of a presentation?
  • Are they convinced by numbers or are they objective-driven, or do they go by feelings or practical examples?

2) When you’re presenting to strangers outside of your organisation

Research with Facebook:

If your audience is outside of your organisation and you have no one to ask, social media comes to the rescue. Some high-level C-suiters have public Facebook profiles. By poking around, you might see that the CEO that you’re going to present to, loves fishing. Bits of information like that are useful because then, you can work relatable analogies into your presentation, like:

“Here’s how you can reel them in.”

Or, “To catch the best fish, you have to know where to look.”

Or, “It’s best to cast a wide net.”

Research with LinkedIn:

While a Facebook profile gives you a glimpse into a person’s life, LinkedIn on the other hand shows you the corporate profile of your audience. In the recommendation segment under their profile, you’ll be able to see the recommendations that the person has given and received. Both contain nuggets of information that might give you an idea of what other people value in them – and what they value in other people. If his recommendations contain key phrases such as:

  • Good with people
  • Close friend
  • A delight to work with

Then you’ll know that this person is a ‘feelings’ person. So the more stories you put into your presentation, the more you’ll be able to appeal to him. 

If this person is giving recommendations to other people that contain key phrases like:

  • Detail-oriented
  • Careful planner

Then you should think of loading up your presentations with charts and graphs and numbers. 


Conclusion – People better understand your ideas when you first understand them.

In your next presentation, take some time to learn more about your audience. You’ll be surprised at how much closer you’ll feel to your audience and how much more empathy you’ll have when they ask difficult questions. And now, because you can empathise with their position, you can better position your ideas and you’ll have a higher chance of pushing your ideas through and making a real impact.



In our decades as presentations specialists, we’ve often seen bright innovators, young and old, who, because they lack the skills to be heard, leave the organisation or become demoralised because the treasure trove in their heads were not appreciated. Help your people to learn these essential skills and watch innovation flourish in your organisation. Want to join us in our journey to develop people? Sign up for our newsletter.



Hi, I’m Dr Kavitha Murulitharan, a former molecular biologist and University Malaya debater. I’m passionate about making education applicable, fun, and practical and I’m a business presentations specialist at People Potential.