Perfecting your virtual pitch—and how it’s different when it’s remote
Before the world changed, you could hone your venture capitalist (VC) or angel investor pitch in the airport lounge or skip the in-flight entertainment for some presentation prep.
Getting ready for a pitch may look different these days, especially if you’re not even leaving your home. But even as travel kicks up again and in-person meetings find their way back into our workdays, the virtual pitch isn’t going away.
The good news? A good virtual pitch takes a lot of the same preparation and energy you would put into an in-person pitch. There’s no need to drastically change your strategy—or your slides—but it will take some time and practice to show up to the virtual room with the same engaging presence you would’ve brought in person.
Here are five tips for delivering a dynamic presentation online.
1. Be true to yourself—and bring your personality with you
There was a pitch I was a part of recently where the entrepreneur realized in the middle of her presentation that this new company she had founded is what she was put on the earth to do, and her emotion started to show.
She was being authentic, and we could all feel her passion. We knew in that moment that she was completely aligned with her business and what she needed to do.
It isn’t wrong to be emotionally connected to your business. In fact, VCs are people who connect to stories and human experience too. Connection is just as important—and harder to achieve—in an online format. Make sure you leave space to connect with the people in the room and to humanize your message and your story.
2. Tell the story of your business AND know the numbers
It’s important that you’re close to your numbers, and when prompted, can state your financial projections and statements for the next three, six and 12 months as well as your forward projections.
But before you jump right into the numbers, you first need to focus on making a case for your business. Storytelling is a great way to do this.
One of the best pitches I saw recently took us on a journey. The leader told the story from the point of view of their customer, and it was a great way for us to see their business’s value and visualize what the customer’s experience would be like. They threaded the number throughout their story: the cost of acquiring the customer, the pricing strategy for the type of customer and the total contract value they expect, what could lead to churn and what customer success looked like over time from booked to closed/won revenues.
VCs will always want to see the numbers and how you can achieve exponential growth. Using a storytelling approach can help hold VCs’ attention on the right thing: visualizing how the market could look with your technology and how you can grow into or win in your segment of that market.
3. Simplify, simplify, simplify
Your slide deck shouldn’t be different for an online presentation. No matter how you are presenting, clarity is key when trying to stand out to a venture capitalist. Though it’s tempting to show everything you know about your business; a ton of detailed slides will only take away from a focused pitch.
You may also lose the attention of the virtual room and compete with the attention it takes to read your slides—or worse, something more interesting they come across on the Internet.
Keep your slides simple. They should complement your presentation rather than derail your audience’s or your own focus.
4. Take your time—but know your time
If you’ve ever dreamed of delivering the perfect TED Talk, now’s your chance. Your pitch should be just like one: short, snappy and memorable.
If you haven’t discussed the length of your meeting, assume you have 45 minutes. You should be able to present the case for your business in 30 minutes, while saving 15 minutes for questions and discussion.
Practice speaking slowly and clearly when delivering your pitch—and pause to take a deep breath. We all tend to speed up our pace when we are nervous and virtual meetings bring in the possibility for feedback, technical glitches and misunderstandings.
5. Know your audience
You should have a fairly templated pitch to tell your business story effectively, but research who you’re meeting with so you can tailor the presentation to them.
Maybe you know what type of companies they usually invest in and can spend more time covering that aspect of your business. Or, if you’re starting a bio company and the people you’re pitching to have a base knowledge in this space, make sure to skip the educational pieces you would’ve injected for a less familiar audience.
Remember: Most Venture capitalists are entrepreneurs, just like you. They already know where you’re coming from—make sure you learn about where they’re coming from, too.
What questions should a VC pitch answer?
1. What’s your business? What are you trying to solve?
2. Who is your customer? Take us on their journey.
3. What does the market opportunity look like? What are the opportunities and competition in the landscape?
4. What’s the secret sauce at your company? What is the one thing that gives you an unfair competitive advantage in the market? Is it the way you’re leveraging tech or labour, for example?
5. What are your metrics to date? Tip: if you tell the story of your customer, you can talk about all your metrics in the confines of the story, to save time and hold interest.
6. What are you asking for and why? Your ask should be straightforward. Say how much you need, and how you’re going to use it. Most importantly, say how this investment will affect the growth of your company. (Make sure it’s a viable opportunity for both sides, and that they understand their return if they invest in you today. Even more importantly: What will the investment be worth 10 years from now?)
Want even more tips for preparing your pitch? Read our previous article on prepping a pitch for any meeting style.