Do it Quickly: Your log is not the only one on the fire. Explain yourself quickly and succinctly. If you're given a time limit to explain yourself, respect it. Rest assured that if your idea is compelling enough, you will be given ample opportunity to explain it further.
Emotion Makes it Happen: Logic makes people think, emotion makes them act. Don't fall into the trap of explaining your idea only in logical terms. To get buy-in and commitment from management, you must get them emotionally involved in your vision. To elicit that emotional reaction, focus on their needs, not yours. Make it important for them to listen and implement your idea. How? By appealing to their self interest: show them how the idea benefits them, and the company by the same token.
Be Prepared to Let it Go: it's possible that your idea will be championed and taken over by someone else, who then gets all the credit. Get over it. If you are really passionate about your idea, be happy that it has been considered and that it is being implemented. Don't ruin your experience by getting upset that you did not get all the credit. If your boss is a good leader, he or she will let it be known that it was your idea. And yes, I am aware that many bosses are not good leaders. Nevertheless, that should not affect how you feel about yourself and about your contribution. Just make sure that during your next performance review, it is duly noted in your file that your input contributed to the implementation of this idea.
In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, at #5 Stephen Covey lists what I consider to be the best communication advice you can find: seek first to understand and then to be understood.
In IT, we often take the approach that if the other people do not understand the technical aspects of what we do, they are not worthy. However, the geeks that are most valued by a business are not those who know the most, but the ones who can explain what they know best. So when you want to present your idea to management, boldly go forth and don your virtual suit. You can always take it off as you leave the meeting room.
Laurent Duperval is the president of Duperval Consulting which helps individuals and companies improve people-focused communication processes. He may be reached at email@example.com or 514-902-0186.