Now this is how you pitch ideas

man drawing light bulb In the 1980s, Cheryl Bachelder worked for Nabisco. One of her assignments: to grow its Life Savers candy business.

To make a bold impression on Nabisco’s senior management team, Bachelder took a risk. She linked her Life Savers growth proposals to President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (which was big news at the time).

Bachelder, now CEO of the Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurant chain, recalls flying to Norfolk, Va., to make her big pitch to Nabisco’s top brass. She opened with an attention-grabber, titling her presentation, “Life Savers Strategic Defense Initiative.”

To heighten the appeal of her proposals, she listed the top three ideas from her team. First, she proposed adding 10% fruit juice to the candy to appeal to mothers seeking healthier sweets for their kids. Second, she suggested Life Savers Holes with the middle dot as an extra piece of candy to accompany the traditional product. And finally, she introduced Life Savers Gummi Savers as a new, chewy version.

One of the three ideas proved a big hit—the Gummi Savers. The only rival product in the 1980s was tough and stale tasting, so it was easy to make an immediate impact. Gummi Savers drove $100 million in new Life Savers sales.

Preparing an important presentation to persuade VIPs? Like Bachelder, come up with a catchy title for your talk, and then think in threes to maximize the odds that at least one of your ideas gains traction.

—Adapted from Dare To Serve, Cheryl Bachelder, Berrett-Koehler.