The art of online pitching: How to nail your next virtual presentation
Pitching online has become an essential part of the startup journey. With the shift to virtual meetings, founders can easily connect with potential investors and showcase their ideas. But with this convenience comes higher expectations. A technical glitch or poor audio quality can derail your presentation, turning your meetings into a missed opportunity.
By sharpening your online pitching skills — both in front of the camera and behind the scenes — you can make a strong impression and secure investment for your startup. In this article, we'll walk you through how to prepare, optimize, and deliver your online pitch to convince your audience and take your startup to the next level.
Prepping for your pitch
The path to a successful online pitch is paved with preparation. In today’s hyperdigital world, simply presenting a stunning pitch deck on a video call is often not enough to convince potential investors. By taking the time to go through a couple of extra steps, you can make sure your virtual meeting pays off.
Get to know your potential investors
You’ll have a better chance at winning over investors if you’re able to speak to their specific needs and preferences, so it's important to take some time to get to know your audience. Research their backgrounds and interests, and find out what makes them tick. This will help you build relationships and establish strong connections — which we all know are especially valuable in the startup world.
Adjust and tailor your pitch
Now that you’ve scoped out your audience, you can use the information you’ve gathered to perfect your pitch. To tell a consistent story that’s tailored to the interests of your investors, follow the 80/20 rule — using your core pitch deck as an anchor, make small personalization adjustments like adding a relevant GIF or slide from the appendix.
A successful pitch deck is able to highlight the strengths of the startup and its potential for growth. Be clear and concise, and emphasize why your company is uniquely positioned to succeed.
Practice, practice, practice
Once you’ve designed and structured your pitch deck, outline what you want to cover during your presentation. Write out a script, and practice it until it becomes second nature. You don’t need to memorize your script word for word, but you should be able to smoothly recount all of the information.
Here are a few practical tips that’ll ensure you can do that (and stay as cool as a cucumber) on your big day:
- Use a timer. By accurately gauging the length of your presentation, you’ll make sure there’s enough time for ample discussion with investors afterward.
- Optimize your speaker notes. Jot down concise points to guide you as you deliver your pitch. Try not to read your notes verbatim or rely on them too heavily.
- Speak at a conversational pace. Talking a mile a minute signals that you’re nervous — and makes it harder for people to understand you. If you feel yourself speeding up, pause to take a breath and then resume speaking.
- Rehearse in front of an audience. Replicate a virtual environment by inviting friends or colleagues to watch your presentation on their laptops. This will familiarize you with the video call setting and help you feel more comfortable.
- Make a recording of your pitch. How you frame yourself on camera can affect how your audience perceives your nonverbal communication. Create a video recording of your presentation and check how your facial expressions, gestures, and overall energy come across on screen.
Consider hiring a public speaking coach. If you tend to get nervous when speaking in front of others, a coach can help you prepare with tailored strategies on how to deal with the anxiety and deliver with confidence.
Optimizing your virtual setup
Virtual pitching isn’t just delivering an in-person presentation in front of a camera — it’s a whole different way of communicating. But successful online pitches also take careful planning.
In fact, it may sound a little negative, but it’s important to plan for the worst. Approach your pitch with a Murphy’s law mindset. Knowing that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong” will help you identify potential pitfalls and find solutions for them before the meeting even starts.
At the very least, familiarize yourself with your video calling platform’s features and settings — you don’t want to be searching for the screen sharing button when you’re about to present. And, as we’ve mentioned, invite your team to join a practice call. That way, you can see both what will appear on your screen as well as what investors will see as attendees.
If you want to look like a pro, though, your equipment is where it’s at.
Setting up your equipment
Your computer is probably already equipped with a webcam and a built-in microphone. But investing in good lighting, an additional microphone, and a quality camera can enhance the overall experience.
The golden rule of lighting for video calls is to have light sources in front of you. Ring lights and mini-panel lights are affordable options that are easy to transport. In terms of audio, opt for an external microphone so you can freely gesture during your presentation without disrupting the sound. And to really level up your online pitch, consider purchasing a quality webcam with at least 1080px resolution and 60fps frame rate.
With more elements in your control, you can come across just as well in a virtual pitch as you would during an in-person meeting.
Delivering your online pitch
Now that you have the essentials in place, it’s time to create a checklist for the day of your video call. Before you enter the virtual meeting room, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you checked if your webcam and microphone are working?
- Is your background clean and professional-looking?
- Are your stats up to date, and do you have all the necessary files ready?
- Is your internet connection stable?
- Have you closed all unnecessary tabs to minimize distractions?
- Are your devices on “do not disturb” mode?
Once you’ve ticked all these boxes, try to relax, breathe, and get your mind into pitching mode. Be sure you’re sitting comfortably at least 30 minutes before your call begins.
During the call
As your guests begin to arrive, welcome them and thank them for joining the call. Depending on the number of guests you have, you may want to include some level of moderation. For instance, you could give a short round of introductions and clarify when to ask questions before diving into your pitch. This will help facilitate clear communication among all the participants.
Look directly into the camera. Simulating eye contact can help build a more personal connection. If you’re using the built-in webcam on your laptop, consider using a piece of brightly colored tape or a sign to draw your attention to the camera.
Take your time when answering questions. It’s OK to say you need a minute. It’s better to pause and give a thoughtful answer than offer a rushed response that fails to accurately address the question at hand.
Ask questions to dig deeper into the founder-investor fit. By posing pre-prepared questions to your audience, you can further personalize the pitch while also getting a better understanding of your potential investors and what their values are.
Discuss what the next steps will be. Clarify any expectations that investors might have, and determine a timeline for how to move forward. Getting everyone on the same page before ending the call lays a foundation for transparency and accountability.
And it goes without saying, but make sure to thank the investors. They’re likely meeting with many founders, so expressing gratitude shows you acknowledge the value of their time.
Nail your virtual presentation and raise funding with Pitch
Virtual fundraising has opened up a new world of investment opportunities. Whether it’s your first call with an angel investor or you’re in your Series B round of financing, video calls have most likely already impacted the way you raise money for your company.
Adequate preparation involves not just thinking about what you want to say, but also being aware of the key factors that can affect the quality of your video call.
To create the best experience possible, embrace your inner videographer and learn about the various capabilities of your communication software. With plenty of practice and some careful planning, you’ll impress investors every time you deliver an online pitch.