How to become a better advocate for your ideas in order to get the credit you deserve

In December, I shared a room with 24 other talented journalists to participate in the 2016 Poynter-NABJ Leadership Academy for Diversity in Digital Media.

There aren't enough adjectives to describe the impact that this program had on me, both professionally and personally. I gained a new perspective on what true leadership looks like and how I should start reflecting those qualities in order to develop my own leadership style.

We did a number of things during our week of training, but it all started out with eight ViewPoynt surveys. Those surveys were sent to a group of my former supervisors, colleagues and journalism mentors I admire. After reviewing the surveys, I noticed some common themes in how I need to improve. The following critique stood out to me the most, though.

"I have so much respect for Ameena, so much faith in her and such high hopes for her. But I will say this about her: She can be too quiet....Ameena is one of those people who may not be getting the projects she deserves because she often flies under the radar, quietly and steadily doing her job. I would never wish for her to be a loud-mouth or a spotlight-hog, but I do very much want for her to get the attention she deserves. I want her to find a way that she is comfortable with that allows others to see more quickly how very much she has to offer."

Well, there you have it. I need to be more of an advocate for my ideas, vocal about the projects that I'm working on and share the knowledge I have gained through the work that I have done.

I wasn't the only person who struggled with this at the leadership academy. I suspect that some of you who might be reading this are dealing with this same issue.

Luckily, Katie Hawkins-Gaar, one of Poynter's digital innovation faculty members, gave a presentation on how to confidently pitch better ideas and get your work seen. Here are some of the points that really stuck out to me.

Generating ideas and inspiration

Read a lot! Before you push for your ideas, you need some good ones. Studying industry trends and seeing what others are doing might stir up some inspiration for your next big project.

For journalism and media, the Columbia Journalism Review, Poynter and Nieman Lab are all great resources. In order to be more organized in following industry trends, I use the Feedly app to keep up with all of my favorite blogs and websites.

Building credibility and confidence

Get published! I'm sure that various industry publications and blogs are all looking for the next great story. After you're done reading articles from those places and you're feeling inspired, try to get some of your own ideas published in those places.

Say yes to speaking opportunities! From moderating and sitting on panels to presenting your ideas at conferences or workshops, getting out in front of others helps expand your network and visibility within your respective industry.

Crafting your pitch and executing your ideas

You have your idea. You have the confidence and credibility to stand before your peers and share your idea. But how do you go about presenting it?

  • Pay attention to metrics. Bring data and examples to support your case.
  • Suggest a trial run. Put a timeline on ideas to ease people into new ideas.
  • Be visual. Even simple sketches can help illustrate ideas.
  • Anticipate pushback. When preparing a pitch, think about the concerns others will have.

Once you're finished with a project, follow up with a post-mortem meeting. Post-mortem meetings are a good way to make sure you get credit for your ideas and your work.

Be sure to assess what worked well, what could have been better and what you can do to achieve success in the future.

I would love to hear any pro tips that anybody reading this might have on this subject. How have you learned to become a better advocate for your ideas and the work you do?