A Good Idea is Not Enough: Persuading Like An Entrepreneur
A Good Idea is Not Enough: Persuading Like an Entrepreneur
Persuasion • Engagement • Communication
Upcoming Course: December 13, 2023
Location: UT Austin
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.
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.
Clay Spinuzzi is a Professor of Rhetoric and Writing at UT Austin. Dr. Spinuzzi leads HDO 386: Persuasion and Argumentation in the HDO Master’s Degree program. His research focuses on how organizations circulate and coordinate information to solve complex problems. For the last several years, he has led studies into entrepreneurship communication, resulting in nearly a dozen publications.
Dr. Spinuzzi has published several award-winning articles and four books: Tracing Genres through Organizations (MIT Press, 2003), Network (Cambridge University Press, 2008), Topsight (Amazon CreateSpace, 2013; second edition, Urso Press, 2018), and All Edge: Inside the New Workplace Networks (University of Chicago Press, 2015).
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 co-create 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?
Details & Registration
Location: UT Austin
Upcoming Course(s): December 13, 2023
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs): 0.6 CEUs will be awarded upon completion of this program (six hours of instruction)
Registration Deadline: December 10, 2023
One-Day Seminar Pricing:
- Standard Registration: $1,000
- UT System Staff/Alumni Registration: $750
- Educator, Nonprofit, Government, Military Registration: $750
If you have questions prior to registering, please see our Professional Training FAQ or contact Andrew M. Vasquez, HDO’s Enrollment & Success Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who Should Participate?
The majority of participants in our Seminars and Certificate Programs are mid- and upper-level professionals working in the business, nonprofit, government, or military sectors; however, professionals at all levels of experience are welcome to participate. There are no prerequisites for enrolling in an HDO Professional Seminar.
While all HDO Seminars are developed with wide-ranging applicability in mind, the following individuals and groups will likely find A Good Idea is Not Enough: Persuading Like an Entrepreneur most directly relevant to their work:
- Startup founders and executive
- Innovation leaders
- Fundraising and Development Professionals
- Decision makers in organizations
- Proposal writers, recommendation report writers, and others who are tasked with proposing solutions
- Senior/Executive Leadership
- Managers and Directors
A really wonderful experience with great content and thoughtful organization. I really appreciated the concrete examples and formulas for building proposals and pitches. These are great tools that I can take with me and apply in my profession
Julia Bello, Senior Category Merchant, Whole Foods
I’ve been in Executive Management for over 20 years. The courses I took in the HDO program helped me to gain a fresh perspective on management; specifically, on how people work. I highly recommend taking a seminar or obtaining a certificate in this program.
Dorothy A. Benavidez, Executive Vice President, CRAssociates, Inc.
One-Day Professional Seminars
Our seminars combine cutting-edge research with real-world application to provide practical and immediately relevant tools for solving key organizational problems, ranging from personal motivation and growth to strategic leadership.
Businesses and nonprofits often bring outside specialists on board to improve their organization’s overall efficiency, creativity, and productivity. Participants in our seminars learn to function as “internal consultants,” equipped with new skills and insights to enhance their existing expertise and institutional knowledge.
By exploring specific human, cultural, and communicatory aspects of organizations alongside professionals from a diverse range of industries, participants leave HDO seminars more effective, well-rounded employees.
Two Options to Learn
HDO Professional Seminars may be taken individually or as part of a four-course Certificate Program. This course is part of the Strategic Leadership Certificate Program.
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Sarah Gerichten, Director of Marketing, Square Root, Inc
Registration & Fees
Standard Registration: $1,000
Discounted Registration: $750
Discounted registration is available for UT alumni and staff, as well as individuals who work in the nonprofit, education, government, or military sectors.
Our registration system accepts payment by credit/debit card, check, and purchase order. We also accept Interdepartmental Transfer (IDT) payments for UT Austin faculty and staff.
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