Even as professionals across the National Capital region come up on a full month of social distancing, business continues on. Offices may be shuttered, but nonessential employees continue to work online from their homes – a trend that may not go away with the novel coronavirus. According to a recent study by the analyst firm, Gartner, approximately 75 percent of CFOs plan to move at least 5 percent of their previously on-site staff to permanent telework.
With employees and executives, alike, in self-isolation to help flatten the curve, meeting in person to deliver a business pitch is no longer possible. This means that it’s now necessary to make pitches to prospective investors, partners and sales prospects over video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams. And that could involve learning to present yourself in a professional manner, even while children, pets, and other inescapable elements of not being in your normal office space may interfere.
If there is any ACG National Capital member that knows how to make a business pitch, it’s Carl Grant of Cooley. Carl previously served on the management teams of two venture-backed startups before joining Cooley where he helps growth oriented companies with strategic business advice and targeted referrals to sources of financing, potential partners, key hires, potential buyers/sellers and other high-end service providers.
To help his fellow ACG National Capital members refine their business pitch routine as this new normal settles in, Carl recently had these tips shared with him, and he thought the membership would benefit from them.
Check Your Equipment
There is no worst first impression that having connection issues or being otherwise unable to make the video call happen. First, make sure all of your equipment is working correctly and ensure that everyone has access to the correct links and dial-in numbers.
Acknowledge Your Environment
It is okay to be transparent about your background. For example, you could say something like “As you can see, I’m presenting from my living room,” but don’t apologize for it by saying things like “Sorry my living room is a mess.”
That said, do make sure things are semi-tidy in your space. The same thing can be said for interruptions from kids, pets, housemates, and other new “coworkers.” Acknowledge it, but don’t apologize. Everyone is in the same boat.
Mind Your Posture
Generally, it is better to stand rather than sit when pitching. Two thirds of your lung capacity is compressed when you sit. You will be able to project better and be more animated if you’re standing.
Check Your Lighting
The best lighting set-up, if you can manage it, is to have natural light coming in from in front of you. Make sure to check how your lighting shows up on camera so that your face is not partially obscured.
Maintain Eye Contact
Keep your eyes on the camera. Put a Post-It with a smiley face, a picture of your pet or kid, or something funny by the camera to force you to look up at it.
Be Mindful of Eye Movement
If you are looking down to take notes or going back to your deck, acknowledge it. It’s easy for it to seem like you are distracted by your phone or otherwise not giving your audience your undivided attention if you are frequently looking down or away from the camera.
Be Animated & Avoid Monotone.
On camera, when presenting, it is important to incorporate subtle body language to make a pitch less monotonous. Frequently, presenters have memorized pitches, and there is a tendency to deliver something memorized in the same tone, which makes no one single idea sound more important than others. Vary your tone to get the important points across.
You could practice modulating your voice with free online apps like Question Roulette to make sure this isn’t an issue.
Present as a Team
Think of your presentation like a relay baton. Make sure you have knowledge of your partner’s piece and don’t leave them hanging. In your remarks, it’s okay to “bookmark” and say your partner will address a question in the next few slides.
Manually Control Powerpoint Slides
Try manually clicking through slides rather than setting the presentation to an automatic scroll. It gives you more control, and there’s less chance of getting out of synch.
This suggestion isn’t exclusive to remote pitching. It is easier to get a point across if you translate numbers and percentages into examples. For example, “the product results in 30% more” doesn’t get the point across as well as saying “the product results in 30% more, which is the equivalent of 2 additional bottles per day.” Another way you could add concrete examples is by walking your audience through a particular pain point you’re discussing from a single person or organization’s perspective.
For more insights from Carl Grant and Cooley, click HERE