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Tips for giving your best business pitch via video conferencing

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by Startacus Admin

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Got to do your business pitch via video? Michael Collins of Toastmasters International shares some great tips to help you do just that...

photo-1598257006408-538c27529235.With more and more of our business life being conducted online how can you make sure you give your best pitch online and ensure your startup makes its mark with your potential or existing clients?

Research Your Customers

Ensure you research the client or clients you will be presenting to. What motivates your audience may be different to what motivates you and it is important to recognise this as part of the pitch.  

Avoid a long biographical introduction.  A better idea can be working elements of your background into the pitch, for example: What my MBA didn’t teach me are the lessons learned from failures. These were gained from industry experience.  A client will research your credentials afterwards, if they feel the need.  

Take Charge

If you know in advance or are concerned that an individual may derail your pitch or ask an opening awkward question, using a simple phrase like, “If there are no objections, I’m going to give a brief overview for five minutes to set the context before inviting questions” is appropriate. This shows you’re taking charge and are in control. 

Keep the Audience Interested and Engaged

photo-1609751364867-ea05342563b7.Many business schools will teach you the traditional flow of how to deliver a pitch.  The classic five step elevator pitch includes the introduction, the problem and solution, a call to action and closes with the presenter maintaining control of the next steps of any future engagement. While this approach may work in person, it is based on an attentive client who is in the elevator. 

When delivering a pitch in person, there are tell-tale signs of a disengaged audience, including people looking at their phones or their eyes glazing over. It is more difficult to judge interest levels through a remote presentation as attendees may be working on something else in parallel.  For this reason, it is important to create a pitch that encourages questions throughout, not just at the end. 

Start with a Focus on Rapport

Building rapport with a client is traditionally facilitated through the customary exchanging of business cards or over an informal introductory conversation.  Video conferencing offers alternate ways to build rapport. The initial few minutes while attendees may be joining the video call offers you this opportunity.  Consider showing interest in your client’s business.  Make it about them and not about you, and at all costs avoid dead airtime or simply displaying disinterest by looking at a different screen.  Finally ask “Let me know when you are ready to begin”.  

It can be easy and convenient to hide behind technology. Instead take opportunities to show you are as human as your audience.  Encourage them to relate to you.  As an example, if the call is facilitating a different time zone, add to your good morning/good afternoon/good evening with something about you, perhaps: my baby is teething, happy I’m getting used to being up and about at odd hours. Share something personal that your audience can empathise with.   

Work with the Technology

photo-1586985564150-11ee04838034.Performing a sound check of your mic and speakers in advance of the call.  Soft furnishing can be used to address any echo.  Don’t draw attention to issues around video technology, instead mention that you look forward to meeting the client in person.  

While many stock images are available as a background for use with video conferencing tools, these lack authenticity.  Your background should complement your pitch without being distracting. Also wear clothes appropriate to the occasion that don’t blend in with the background.  

Using the Lens

Think of the camera lens as your sole audience.  The camera should be horizontal to your eye level, framing you from the chest upwards.  Remember when presenting to several people, that each individual is experiencing a one-to-one situation. In a room full of people, you can become both the presenter and part of the audience by joining them in looking at a slide, but in an online presentation, if you read from a source to your side, you are not looking directly at the camera. Maintain eye contact with your camera lens. Having notes in bold font, close to the camera, may be helpful, but treat them as a back-up.  

Practice your Pitch

Avoid falling into the trap of assuming that preparation means working on PowerPoint slides. This should be the last thing that you consider.  Verbalising your ideas before attempting any script is crucial, as the spoken word is different from the written word. Develop your muscle memory, by delivering your pitch out loud many times. Everyone has a different style of delivery and the more you practice, the more you will be comfortable with discovering your own natural style. If you are more comfortable standing and using charts in your home office, this approach can offer a welcome diversion from PowerPoint slides, while also allowing you to use appropriate hand gestures as you speak.  

As a startup every pitch you give is your most important pitch! Use your presenting skills and make the adaptations you need for the technology you are using. By putting your attention on rapport and relationship building you can make video conferencing work for you and delight your clients.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Collins.Michael Collins is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org




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Published on: 5th March 2021

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