Department of Rhetoric & Writing
Department of Rhetoric & Writing

Dr. Clay Spinuzzi presents: "A Good Idea is Not Enough: Persuading Like an Entrepreneur"

In this one-day seminar, Dr. Clay Spinuzzi uses examples from his research on startups and his expertise in rhetoric and communication to illustrate how persuasion works and to discuss principles that can make us more persuasive — in our ventures, our organizations, and our lives.

Wed, March 6, 2019 | AT&T Executive Conference Center, UT Austin Campus

8:30 AM - 4:30 PM

In a startup, a good idea is not enough. No matter how exceptional your innovation is, you need to show stakeholders how your idea solves their problems and how you can make this solution sustainable. You have to get to know your stakeholders, take their perspectives, understand their needs, shape your value proposition, and build a successful business model. Most importantly, you have to compress your argument into a pitch, which could be as short as 30 seconds.

Entrepreneurs face extreme cases of the kind of persuasion we often have to do within and between organizations: persuasion that involves aligning the concerns and interests of different stakeholders and proposing a workable, sustainable solution. In this one-day seminar, Dr. Clay Spinuzzi uses examples from his research on startups and his expertise in rhetoric and communication to illustrate how persuasion works and to discuss principles that can make us more persuasive — in our ventures, our organizations, and our lives.

Participants in this seminar cover the following major issues:

Understanding the big picture. Why don’t ideas “sell themselves”? How does persuasion work, and how can we develop and communicate an offering that can persuade all of our stakeholders?

Choosing the right argument — and refining it with feedback. What kind of logic should you apply to your offering? How do you establish feedback loops to refine that offering? How do you identify pain and articulate a persuasive value proposition?

Making it work: Figuring out your self-sustaining system. A value proposition is the kernel of your argument, but you also have to demonstrate that it can be sustained. Whose problem are you solving? What’s the solution’s scope? What are the pieces of the system that will sustain it? And how do you “fail faster” without failing disastrously?

Pitching. Once you’ve developed an argument, you have to pitch it, then answer questions from stakeholders who may disagree with you and each other. How do you pitch effectively? How do you cocreate solutions with your audience? When do you decide to persevere, pivot — or punt?

Participants are encouraged to bring examples of proposal arguments from their own work: sales pitches, proposals, recommendation reports, feasibility reports, or similar arguments that deliberate on a solution. Dr. Spinuzzi will also provide samples of these materials for participants if they can’t/don’t wish to bring in their own.

In small workgroups, participants examine these materials and discuss:

  • What is persuasion, and how does it work?
  • What makes a persuasive idea spread? How can we persuade stakeholders with different interests?
  • What is the difference between describing a solution and proposing a solution? How can we refine our claims to better persuade different sets of stakeholders?
  • What is “market pain”? How do we identify it and why is it so critical to proposing solutions?
  • How do you refine a value proposition to make it more persuasive?
  • How do you build a self-sustaining system around that value proposition? That is, how do you make sure that the solution can last?
  • How do you successfully pitch a solution? What common pitfalls can you avoid?

Registration is available through HDO's website.

Sponsored by: Human Dimensions of Organizations

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