Business travel nowadays is making sure you have good wifi, a sturdy chair, and a nice Zoom background.
When things go “back to normal”, business travel will likely be one of the last things to return. For entrepreneurs, this means learning how to give a virtual pitch is essential. Every founder needs to develop a pitch that they can deliver to potential investors, employees, customers, etc. Whether it’s in person or online, a quality pitch can lead to new connections, new partnerships, and new opportunities. And with our $10,000 Virtual U.Pitch Competition applications closing soon – we want to provide you with some helpful tips to make sure your virtual pitch is clear and effective for any occasion.
Less travel doesn’t mean less practice.
Virtual pitches are no different from in-person pitches when it comes to content. You still have to make eye contact with the audience via your camera. You still have to speak loud and clear. You still have to cover all the important details to make sure your audience understands what problem you are solving. And the only way to ensure you do all this effectively is by practicing.
If anything, you should spend more time practicing your virtual pitch. You have the advantage of already being in the place where the pitch will be given, so get comfortable with your surroundings. Record yourself with your phone or laptop camera and watch it back. What you see is exactly what your audience will see over their screen. Get familiar with content that isn’t included in your pitch so if anyone asks questions, you don’t hesitate with an answer. Even without a physical stage, your body language is still important. Head up, shoulders back, and display confidence!
Engagement is still important.
When giving a pitch in-person, you have the liberty of stage presence, demos, and prototypes. These things aren’t as available with virtual pitches, so you have to keep your audience engaged. Think about how you can incorporate your virtual audience into the pitch. Overcompensate by asking questions more frequently. Share a dialog with the judges mid-pitch so they are focused on you even more.
One way to drive interest is to get familiar with your audience prior to the pitch. If there are judges, research their area of specialty and reference it in your dialog. If you’re pitching to potential customers or partners, articulate how your product can fill their specific needs.
Be creative and don’t be afraid to over engage, because it’s easy for an audience to get bored over a Zoom call.
Time to get technical.
With a virtual pitch, you need to be prepared for glitches and how to handle them. No one will fault you for the glitch itself, but they will fault you if you’re not prepared to handle them.
For example, you’re mid-sentence and your wifi cuts out for a few seconds. How are you going to react once you return to the call? Every detail matters, especially with an elevator pitch, so you want to make sure your audience hears what you have to say. If your screen share freezes for mysterious reasons, be prepared to give the rest of your pitch with just your camera. An audience waiting for your camera or screen to turn on not only takes away from your pitch-time, it’s awkward and boring.
Glitches are not much different from a mic cutting out during a live, in-person pitch. Flex your inner entrepreneur and have a solution for the problem. If a guitarist’s string breaks mid-performance, they must be prepared to finish the song with the strings they have left. Confidence can go a long way even in the most difficult situations.
Don’t hide behind the screen.
Professionalism is still important when pitching through a camera. Dress appropriately for the situation. You don’t have to wear a suit in your own house, but find an outfit that speaks to your business. If you have clothing with your logo printed, wear it. A brand is represented by the founder just as much as it is by the product.
Whether you’re using Zoom, Google Hangouts, or any other live video-conference platform, your background will be seen. If you don’t have a great office space, try using a virtual background that is professional. An audience may pay more attention to your background than your pitch if what’s behind you is cluttered or distracting. If you pitch better standing up, pitch standing up. Again, practice the pitch however you plan on delivering it so when the time comes, you’re comfortable and confident.
Lastly, test your camera and microphone. Your opening line sets the tone for the rest of your pitch, so make sure your audience hears it.
Why not just wait for business to return to normal?
Innovation is all about time and place. If you wait for business travel to return to normal, you will fall behind. In fact, now more than ever is the time to take your work virtual. Many businesses and offices are going remote for good, so learning how to give a virtual pitch will allow you to grow your business even in a virtual environment.
If you are a current college student or recent graduate looking to practice your virtual pitch, apply now to our 2020 Virtual U.Pitch Competition for your chance at $10,000.
Looking for more tips and tricks on how to write and deliver elevator pitches? Download our Elevator Pitch Guide today!
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