Heilmeier’s Catechism: How to make your presentation matter

Found this on the web – Heilmeier’s Catechism.  The key questions you need to answer in order to pitch a good idea.  It doesn’t matter whether the idea is a research proposal, a new business, or a plan to colonize Mars.

I believe this was originally written by an engineer, so I’ll attempt to translate into business-speak in the added parenthetical comments to show the parallels to business and even venture capital.

  • What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon.  (Mission or vision)
  • How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice? (Market research)
  • What’s new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?  (Your intellectual capital)
  • Who cares? If you’re successful, what difference will it make?  (Value-add to customers)
  • What are the risks and the payoffs? (What’s the ROI?  Show me the money)
  • How much will it cost? How long will it take? (Investment)
  • What are the midterm and final “exams” to check for success?  (Metrics)

One response to “Heilmeier’s Catechism: How to make your presentation matter

  1. This is a concise and useful encapsulation of the questions you need to answer in advance of proposing something new.

    In a sense they make up the single question in the minds of ANYONE presented with a change…


    I’d only modify in one small way – there needs to be agreement that there is a problem that needs solving in the first place.

    This is sort of addressed in the ‘Who cares’ section – but this is persuasion’s pivot point – the agreement that something needs doing.

    Put strong emphasis on the ‘who cares’ and this is a winning strategy.

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