Pitching over video: winning when you’re worlds apart

Pitching over video can feel a little like you’re going to battle with one hand tied behind your back. But if you embrace the differences, it can actually be rewarding.

If you’re used to warm handshakes, trust-building eye contact, adding drama with pitch props, performing on your feet and reading feedback, then pitching for new business over video is going to feel like a totally different world.

But this type of virtual experience could be here to stay, especially if your potential client is overseas. It also can come with a few advantages.

Without the need to travel, diaries have suddenly opened up so businesses can be more flexible on timings. You can also get more people in one place at a time, which could make for quicker progress.

Here are seven steps to get you started:  

1. Practice on the platform you’re going to use

Most pitches run more smoothly if you practice beforehand. But the twist here is to practice on the platform you’re going to use. You can then get used to screen sharing, quick muting, sound checking, toggling views and decide what works best for you.

2. Set your room up properly

Minimise distractions behind you so the audience looks at you – bland pictures and bookshelves are ideal. Don’t use artificial or virtual backdrops if they glitch and don’t sit with a window behind you – your camera won’t cope with the light contrast.

Next, make sure your sound is clear and you‘re not going to be interrupted – close doors and windows, and stick a note on your door telling kids to stay out. Finally, make yourself comfortable and sit up.

3. Use dual screen, if you have it

If possible, put your video platform and shared slides (with notes) on the camera screen, and place further notes or other assets just off camera on the other screen.

This will mean you spend the majority of time looking at the camera and invite that vital eye contact in any pitch scenario.

4. Use a messaging system

Set up a messaging system between presenters so that you can send each other time checks and notes as you present.

Again, try and do this on or near your camera screen to ensure you don’t look distracted.

5. Make someone a designated facilitator

It sounds obvious, but having one person in charge of proceedings prevents the dreaded situation of everyone asking and answering questions at once, followed by chasms of silence.

6. Keep the team small

Too many changes of presenter will lead to a greater chance of making mistakes – from talking on mute to forgetting who’s next.

Fewer changes mean longer gaps between presenters speaking. As a team, you’ve got to be memorable, and a big team on mute and off camera just won’t be.

7. Remember to smile

It makes a huge difference on camera and it lifts the audio too, bringing an energy that keeps your audience listening.

The sooner you embrace the differences and start using them to your advantage, the sooner you and your potential clients will prosper.

And that’s something that will suit all parties as the business world turns its head towards restarting.

Peter Wilson
Director | Corporate and Public Affairs