I have experienced first hand this week, the importance of being able to articulate that thing which drives you to do what you do. Having both interviewed potential participants for an accelerator programme and been in the hot seat myself, I cannot stress enough how powerful it is to be able to do this succinctly. It is this alone that will enable your audience to connect to who you are as an individual or a business and the role you play in realising that vision. Sometimes you only get one shot, so don’t blow it!
The tricky thing, I have learned, is that when you are really passionate about something, you know what you want to achieve and how it can happen, your narrative can become blurry. Someone asks you to share your vision, yet you dive into what you do and how you do it. I have sat through countless pitches willing the business founder to pause, take a breath and very simply share with us their vision for the community they are serving. And now I have been there myself, I have a deeper understanding of the hole they find themselves and what it takes to avoid falling in.
Before your audience can connect with what you are able to deliver by way of a solution, you have to build them a really clear picture of the end game. They do not see what you see until you describe it.
(1) Describe the scene you envisage at a point in time in the future when the output of your work has come to fruition, be ambitious.
Taking my own example, despite my many roles, I have a single vision. “My vision is a thriving ecosystem, where people and businesses are growing through collaboration, leveraging each others insight and expertise and delivering value, time and time again, to the communities they serve.”
(2) Give more detail.
Expand on the vision so you can transport your audience there too. “This is a really vibrant place to do business, people connect in person and online and they come together around joint goals. They know first hand that the value they create for themselves and others cannot be achieved in isolation. The growth and impact they generate as a business and as a collective are accelerated and they nurture a pipeline of talent. This ecosystem is rooted in a place, with buildings, co-working and specialist facilities, but it has no geographical boundary as it is a magnet for ambitious, visionary people who share the same goals. Each business grows, develops and attracts the best talent and as a result, their customers receive best in class, fit for purpose products and services. And as the cliche goes, this is what gets me up in the morning.
(3) Share your ambition.
Whatever point you are in your journey you can draw on previous expertise to underpin why your vision is attainable, you have the foundations in place. In my own example, I am then in a position to share examples of how I have already achieved the core of this locally and how my ambition is to do this at scale.
(4) Ensure you provide context.
Depending on your audience, your vision may have a specific context. For example, as a leader in healthcare innovation, I would add in (1) to (3) that my vision delivers growth, impact and value for healthcare across the UK and beyond. Businesses come together with academics and healthcare providers to tackle their biggest challenges and my role is to lead the development of services to help businesses achieve this effectively. I remove the barriers to innovation and growth.
(5) Share what you do/will do to realise your vision. Get out your case studies.
When you want your audience to have a fuller appreciation of your expertise and associated solutions, only once your vision is shared do you need to fill in the detail, your sweet spot. “My ability to deliver this (aka superpower, USP or unfair advantage) is the fact that I know the healthcare system and how to innovate intimately from the perspective of a provider, large corporate, SME and a contributor to academic programmes. I have the ability to engage each group of potential collaborators, I speak their language and I know how to leverage their expertise and insight and bring them together around a single goal and vision. I have a strategic vision with the experience and knowledge of what it takes to operationalise it.” This is the point you share how you deliver, present your case studies and examples of achievement.
As business founders, employees, mentors, coaches and consultants, the roles you undertake and contribution you make may be different in that context, but your vision may be consistent. However, for some of you, your vision may change dependent on the jobs you do or the businesses you run. That’s absolutely fine, the key is to connect with and articulate the vision you have at that time so that you can share it. Share it in interviews, in pitches, in corridor conversations, on video, in your blogs, share it with anyone who will listen. Let others help you make it a reality. It is through the delivery of your vision that you make your most valuable contribution.
This is the underlying theme of my Focus 4 Impact workshop today and I am looking forward to working with some fantastic women as part of International Women’s Day to support them to articulate their vision and overcome challenges on their entrepreneurial journey to impact.