Have you recently pitched your idea to your boss, peers, or venture capitalists, and they just couldn't get it?

It is possible that your idea still has merit, but it's just too confusing. And it isn't because of the people hearing it, but the person describing it—you.

I heard thousands of pitches—from startup competitions, to corporate innovation projects to boardroom initiatives—and I noticed a pattern.

Those that struggle the most fall into one of the following two camps:

  • The clueless. They haven't thought through their idea at all, and sound confusing because they are confused themselves. Solution—go back to the drawing table and work more on your idea.
  • The diver. They've been working on this idea for so long that it intuitively makes sense to them. They omit parts they feel are obvious or superficial, and focus on what matters the most to them—which is usually something only another expert would appreciate.

Try the following if you fall into the second camp:

  • Find a trusted peer or friend.
  • Explain your idea to them. Don't pitch or sell it, just explain it.
  • Ask them to summarize your idea in their own words.
  • Shut up and take notes.
  • Thank them.

Do that with three to five people. At the end you should have plenty of material to simplify your own pitch in plain language.

Simple, right?