How do you deliver a virtual pitch that impresses potential investors? There are five easy ways to go into a video call feeling confident, prepared, and ready to get your small business idea funded.
Securing adequate capital investment is an integral part of funding a business. For small business owners, this once meant meeting potential investors at a coffee shop or hotel to pitch them a business model canvas and propose investment in the company.
With a global pandemic still disrupting everyday commerce, pitching has moved online. Entrepreneurs have to shift their focus to this new way of securing funding in the virtual space. Sharpening your virtual pitching skills will give you a significant advantage in business.
Here are five simple-to-execute ways to conquer the virtual pitch. Nail these basics, and you already set yourself apart from others that have not taken the time to refine this essential skill.
#1: Know Your Investor Before the Meeting (Research)
Some pitch rules are evergreen, like those involving the venture capitalist you need to impress. It is never a good idea to pick investors at random and cold call them without any context. Instead, perform due diligence on each investor, one at a time, to determine suitability.
- Search for investors connected to people you know (for introductions).
- Determine whether or not they are currently investing in new business.
- Research who the investor is and what they typically fund.
Before proposing a virtual pitch in an online meeting environment, the investor must be pre-screened and matched with your business goals. Know what they have invested in recently and in the past. Understand where their interests lie. Get a feel for the person before meeting them.
#2: Check Your Virtual Setup (Testing, Testing)
Making a good first impression during a video conferencing experience is about preparation. Entrepreneurs can eliminate 50% of the nerves and stress involved with this process by checking that their virtual setup works and becoming well-versed in using the software beforehand.
- Test the Wi-Fi signal and have a backup line handy for emergencies.
- Choose an easy virtual pitch platform like BlueJeans.com, Zoom, or Gotomeeting.
- Familiarize yourself with the software (video settings, sending/receiving, texting, sharing).
- Test and tweak the video, audio (microphone), and mute settings.
- Charge any wireless wearables (headphones or mics).
- Prepare a secondary device in case the first fails (even a phone will do).
A startup business only gets one shot at pitching to an investor, so the goal is to come across as well-prepared, technologically capable, and able to handle any emergencies—whether they are inside or outside of your control. Test the setup a couple of hours before the call and right before too.
#3: Create Visual Impact (Set the Scene)
You need to do the virtual pitch live, which means the visual impact of the call matters. There are several things to consider before you see the investor in real-time.
- Design the virtual stage or setting in the meeting room.
- Backgrounds matter—they should be organized, aesthetically pleasing, and clean.
- Pick a location that has excellent lighting or stage the lighting.
- Do not use automatic background effects! These are unprofessional.
- Remember that you are part of the stage (dress semi-formally, look professional).
Starting a new business is easier with these soft skills. They are valuable and exceedingly rare. To secure small business funding, take the time to make a strong visual impact during the call.
#4: Prep Your Pitch Deck (Share the Screen)
To lock-in venture capital, a pitch deck is a standard tool shared with investors during and after the meeting. This card deck is shared in the virtual space as the call is happening and used throughout the presentation to enhance your delivery with graphs, stats, and images.
- Pitch decks tell a story and should add to, not distract from, the talk.
- Show the investor the primary target markets.
- Enhance their understanding of industry trends.
- Communicate vision in the deck.
- Outline challenges and how the small business will overcome them.
A professional pitch deck will amplify understanding and take the pressure off the entrepreneur to be present on-screen throughout the entire pitch. By sharing your screen with the investor (or doing it live)—and showing them a five-minute deck, the most important points will be covered in real-time.
A great way to end a call is for the small business owner to tell the investor to expect the pitch deck in an email for their review. This rounds off the call and gives the investor something to think about afterward.
#5: Practice and Record Beforehand (The Dry Run)
There is a big chance that the small business investor has seen several virtual pitches from entrepreneurs. They will be used to nervous talking, filler words, pauses, and people who are not incredibly dynamic or expressive on video. You should see this as an opportunity.
- Practice the pitch and record it for review.
- Refine expressions, remove filler words, and take up the camera space.
- Become comfortable speaking to a camera lens (and not looking at yourself).
- Emphasize what you say and how you say it.
- Host fake pitches with friends and family to perfect your delivery.
Getting that small business investment is going to take charisma and belief in your business model. This needs to be communicated live. Learn how best to present ideas and work with the camera to create a positive experience for the investor.
With enough dry runs, the virtual pitch you flawlessly execute during the coronavirus pandemic will go down in history as the start of something big for the company. Make it happen!