If you’re anything like me, you thought 2020 was going to be your year.
You were going to get your life together. You were going to actually use your gym membership. You were finally going to start raising funds for the startup you’ve been growing steadily for the past year.
And then a pandemic happened.
Most of your plans had to be changed, paused, or completely discarded.
But if your startup has been lucky enough to survive months of a pandemic, you should pick up your plans to start pitching. Of course, you’ll have to change some of your strategies. But you’ve already successfully adapted your business plan to survive a global shutdown. So I believe in your abilities to adapt your presentation skills to this virtual environment.
Read on for some tips and tricks to keep in mind when prepping your virtual pitch.
How to pitch virtually: 12 things to keep in mind
The good news is, you have an opportunity to pitch your startup in the middle of a pandemic! The bad news is, it’s the middle of a pandemic, and the world is weird right now.
More good news: you can prepare for and overcome any weirdness that might happen during a virtual pitch if you keep our 12 tips in mind.
1. Pinpoint exactly what you need to change to take your pitch virtual
Maybe you’ve completely changed your business plan to adapt to this brave new world we’re living in. Maybe you just need to go through your deck to realize nothing about your core business has changed at all.
Before you create or rearrange a single slide, make a list of anything and everything that you need to adjust for a virtual pitch. Making that list will help you focus on any big changes you need to tackle before turning on your webcam.
2. Get familiar with your web conferencing platform
You don’t want avoidable technical difficulties to make you look unprofessional or unprepared on the day of your presentation. So ask whoever you’re pitching what their preferred platform is and then learn it inside out. Practice screen-sharing and admitting people to the call. Check and double-check your microphone and speaker or headset quality, and make sure your operating system plays well with your call platform. Learn keyboard shortcuts that will help your call run smoothly.
On the day of, understanding this platform will help you feel more comfortable while pitching. It will also make you look super put-together in front of the people who’s money you’re asking for.
3. Memorize your financials
We’re obviously living through uncertain economic times. Unless you’re Jeff Bezos, no one is expecting rock-solid financial projections. But you should still project confidence in the numbers you’ve come up with.
Make sure you have informed financial models to present to investors. You should of course acknowledge the current economic climate. But your projections should also help illustrate why investors should take a chance on you, even during such a strange time.
4. Create an agenda
You might not be able to follow it, but an agenda can help organize your team and help ensure that you’re covering all the important topics and answering all the big questions.
If you get the chance, you can outline your agenda at the start of your meeting so investors know what to expect from your team. Make sure to budget time for questions at the end.
5. Control your soundscape
Find a quiet, distraction-free location for your meeting. Since everyone is working from home right now, people will likely be more forgiving about background noises or brief interruptions from kids. But do your best to find a quiet room or corner for your pitch.Since everyone is working from home right now, people will likely be more forgiving about background noises or brief interruptions from kids. But do your best to find a quiet room or corner for your pitch. Click To Tweet
Mute anything and everything you can possibly mute. You don’t want to get distracted by a rogue text from a friend or Slack alert from a colleague in the middle of your presentation. And when you’re not talking, mute yourself to cut down on any other sound interruptions.
Caption: Your headset should be your best friend at this point.
Finally, if you don’t have a good headset, it’s time to invest in one. A headset mic will reduce background noise and make it easier for people to hear what you’re saying.
6. Put your house in order
Or your home office or your corner of your dining room table. Wherever you’re delivering your pitch, get rid of any unnecessary visual distractions.
If you can, sit in front of a blank wall. But if you can’t, make sure the area visible from your camera is as tidy and professional-looking as possible. Consider using virtual backgrounds that include your startup’s logo or brand colors.
Bottom line, clean up any messes, and try to keep your backdrop as simple as you can.
7. Invest time, effort, and maybe money into your pitch design
Hopefully, you weren’t planning on walking into a pitch meeting with a low-quality PowerPoint pre-COVID. But even if you think your deck was looking pretty slick in 2019, I’d suggest giving it another look with your virtual presentation in mind.
You won’t be able to distract from terrible visuals or poor-quality design with your in-person charm. So spending a little more time—and possibly more money—on your deck’s design will probably be worth it for your virtual pitch. And definitely take some time to familiarize yourself with pitch deck design best practices if you haven’t already.
8. Practice just as much for your virtual pitch as you would for an in-person presentation—maybe more
If speaking in front of others makes you nervous, a virtual pitch might actually prompt a sigh of relief. But just because you might be more relaxed doesn’t mean you should rehearse any less for a virtual presentation.
Remember that if you’re talking over each other on a virtual platform, it can feel a lot more chaotic than talking at the same time in a meeting room. Make sure everyone knows what they’re talking about. Practice handoffs that would occur naturally in person but might seem clunky virtually. Just like an in-person meeting, pay attention to how quickly you’re talking and try to maintain a relaxed and natural tone.
Basically, rehearse your pitch just like you would for an in-person presentation. But remember you’ll be on camera and could experience technical difficulties at any time!
(But you’ll be fine if you practice, I promise.)
9. Record yourself
One benefit of a virtual pitch is that you have more control over your environment than you would if you were heading to a potential investor’s office. Capitalize on your home court advantage and record your practice pitches.
Web conferencing platforms make it easy to record calls. In addition to thinking about your pacing and tone during your pitch, you can also take notes on your gestures and body language. Practicing being on camera will make you more comfortable on the day of your pitch. And watching a recording of your practice pitch will help you see what potential investors might see during your presentation.
10. Only include the most essential people from your team on your call
To reduce any opportunities for confusion, think like a minimalist. Who do you absolutely need for this pitch? Only the people who are absolutely necessary to speak to your business plan should be on this call.
Including as few people as possible will help streamline your explanations. It will also make it easier for VC’s to devote attention to your business plan with fewer potential distractions.
11. Remain personable
After so much preparation and practice, you’ll probably be tempted to jump right into sharing your screen. But remember that just because someone looks pixelated, it doesn’t mean they’re a robot.
Caption: Your charm and friendly personality can instill confidence in investors, even over a webcam.
Commence with the pleasantries at the top of your call. Ask everyone how they’re doing, and try to connect with them on a personal level. Make eye contact throughout the meeting, and refer to people by their names. Encourage everyone on your team to keep their videos on throughout the presentation so everyone can see their facial expressions and reactions.
12. Please…wear pants
Plan to settle in and get comfortable wherever you’re conducting your pitch. But don’t get too comfortable.
VC’s can rock their best unshowered, work-from-home looks. But you and your team should plan to show up on camera scrubbed and polished. You want to look like professionals running a successful startup that could really take off if you just had the right funding.
If nothing else, please—and I cannot stress this enough—wear something to cover your top and your bottom. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you might end up flashing your undies to a future investor.
Good luck out there!
We’re all living through the same uncertain times. You should still plan for your pitch and practice your presentation. But you should also remain flexible and plan to handle any interruptions or difficulties as they come up.
Make sure your financial projections are as prepared and flexible as your team. Use a financial modeling tool that helps you create professional projects with solid numbers that you can change easily to reflect the changing times.Sign up for early access to RaiseIQ to create financial models that will inspire confidence in both you and your investors, even in the midst of so much uncertainty.