In a socially remote world desperate for bright spots amid the COVID-19 crisis, one that founders beyond Silicon Valley will admire is that all venture capital pitches have migrated online. This turn to virtual crowdfunding means that no one can comfortably make a trip to Sand Hill Lane, removing the tremendous benefit of start-ups located in the Bay Area.
If something, startups that are not based in areas with a large presence of a VC could also have a benefit. They have been pitching VCs online for years, but they already know how to cope with the particular peculiarities of remote pitches. And anyone else, below is a list of 18 things you can do to avoid “crushing” the pitch sessions, even though they’re virtual.
1. Send a meeting link by email 15 minutes prior.
Since you’re already a successful entrepreneur, you sent out a calendar call with a connection to your online meeting room as soon as the proposal was booked. Although a great entrepreneur knows that people get irritated when they have to search via a calendar prompt for the right connection, specifically when busy VCs hop from meeting to meeting and possibly run a few minutes late.
Instead of making an irritated VC enter you in your virtual proposal space, please have a thankful VC join you by submitting your meeting link by email 15 minutes prior to the meeting begins. Extra points if you use the word “meeting link” in the opening sentence.
2. Join the meeting five minutes early.
Being late for your own online meeting is worse than being late for an in-person meeting as you can’t use traffic as an explanation.
To make sure you’re on schedule, reach your virtual conference room five mins earlier. Besides being ready as the VC arrives, you’ll still get a chance to make sure that everything is running properly.
3. Don’t use the phone.
No one in the ideal world will need this guidance. And still, I’ve got hundreds of investors telling me tales of founders face-timing as they stroll down the highway.
Don’t be such an entrepreneur. Get to a quiet spot, set up your system, and get ready to sit in one place for the whole conference. It’s will be 60 minutes, max.
4. Position your camera marginally above the eye level.
Very much like taking good selfies needs catching your camera above your head, having a really good presence of video conferencing involves having your camera mildly above eye level. Although it might sound a little vain because fundraising isn’t meant to be a beauty contest, people are visual beings. If your camera angle reveals an epic five-fold chin, the person at the other end of the screen will note and be disturbed by it.
Because most people use cameras on their computers for virtual meetings, this means you’re either going to have to prop your laptop so the top of the computer is over your head, or you’re going to have to spend a few extra bucks on an external monitor. Do the latter thing. It’s going to be easier and safer than trying to balance your laptop with a pile of books.
5. Use real mic.
Purchase a better microphone, too if you’re purchasing an external webcam. It’s going to make a big impact on the quality sound level of your meeting—even relative to your luxurious Airpods.
The person you’re talking to will not actively know how much different you sound than anyone else but the clarity of your speech will subtly serve to improve their understanding of you in contrast to the other entrepreneurs they’ve been speaking to.
6. Position the best source of light behind your camera.
In the broadcast room, the brightest lights often project from the camera-side ceiling to the news desk, rather than from behind the reporters. There’s a simple explanation for that. Lights behind people produce darkness and a “halo” effect that makes it difficult to see individuals and to read their facial movements.
You may follow the same idea to dramatically boost the quality of your video by installing a lamp or table light behind your camera and shutting off any overhead lights that might be behind you.
7. Don’t sit down in front of the window.
This advice isn’t different from my previous tip on where the light should be put, but it’s such a frequent mistake that it needs to be listed separately.
People also put themselves in front of the screens for video calls because they believe it provides a better “sight” for others. Right! WRONG! If it’s night, the window is going to be the highest light source, and it’s going to generate a blinding halo around you that may look heavenly, but it’s really going to upset the hell out of the people you’re talking to.
Often if you make a video call at night, a dim window will produce a blinding reflection that you don’t like either.
8. Sit in front of a simple, light-coloured wall.
You might not be naive enough to sit in front of your window, but you also need to look appealing” throughout your call, so you’re standing in front of a stacked bookshelf. The investor is going to presume you’ve read a lot of books and believe you’re competent, right? It’s wrong again!
Anything else in the background of the video is going to be annoying, and it’s bad to interrupt the VC. You need investors to reflect on you and what you’re saying. So sit down in front of a simple, light wall. This could make you—the entrepreneur appealing for money—the central focus of the discussion.
9 Do not sit down on a swivel chair.
If you’re seated on a $50 piece of Walmart’s $500 Aeron vinyl, your desk chair is likely to spin. These types of chairs can be convenient for day-to-day work, but swivel chairs produce disruptive motions during calls.
Don’t overlook that the guy you’re referring to won’t be able to see the chair you’re seated on. If you’re unintentionally swinging from the side-to-side as you pitch, you’re going to look like a 4-year-old. No VC who is going to be invested in four-year-olds. Have you seen it?
10. Get a reasonably strong internet connection.
In the era of WiFi, hardwired internet networks can be difficult to reach, but the advantages are worth the expense of holding essential virtual meetings.
You don’t want the call to drop mid-pitch for apparent reasons. It’s not going to be your fault, and nobody’s going to blame you, but it’s always going to be noisy, distracting and time-consuming. None of these is positive things.
11. Look into the camera, not the monitor.
One reason why Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is regarded as one of the best paintings in art is how the eyes of the subject attract attention to the expression of the subject. This points to the importance of eye contact in terms of getting viewers to reflect on your mouth and also what you say.
It’s difficult to make eye contact during a video call because the window showing the person you’re referring to will still be below the camera. You need to prepare yourself to focus at your camera, not your phone, to make eye contact. Like Da Vinci’s sfumato method, it’s a hard art to learn, however effective if you can pull it off.
12. Small talk is still relevant.
The ineptness of virtual meetings sometimes tempts people to leap directly into the company. Battle the temptation!
Irrespective of whether a discussion is in person or online, people are still people. They would like to feel relaxed and acquainted with the people they’re speaking to and that means having a little conversation at the outset of the meeting to build simple confidence and familiarity.
13. Use an uber-minimalist deck.
It’s always recommended that entrepreneurs build slides that are light on text and images to encourage their audience members to focus on them and what they’re saying rather than the slides. That’s because investors invest in entrepreneurs, not the slides, so entrepreneurs need to be selling themselves.
For virtual pitches, getting your audience to focus on you is just as critical but much harder since the slides dominate (and sometimes takeover) the other person’s screen. To combat this, keep your slides as minimalist as possible so the audience has no choice but to pay attention to your words.
14. Have a little more slides than you would usually have.
Being present physically in a room while your pitches allow you a lot of sensory stimulation to keep your viewers engaged and concentrated. Not being in the same place, the sensations dissolve. You can prepare for this by altering the proportion of slides on your deck and getting around them fast.
Although getting a lot of material on your slides will distract your audience, flipping slides will also give your pitch a feeling of forceful forward development. This progress is going to help keep the community involved.
15. Do not use screenshots or animations
Videos and graphics generally don’t work well during screen shares. You will already know that. It’s time to pull the bits out of your slide deck. Focus more on sharing bright graphics and use big fonts to ensure the investor can read the content easily, even if the screen is a but blurry due to laggy internet.
16. Prepare yourself for silence.
Usual, in-person interactions are packed with a multitude of micro-expressions and slight tonal changes that signify what the other person is to speak. Most of these subtleties vanish during a video call, leading to uncomfortable transition phases and longer-than-normal delays among speakers.
Fortunately, the more you interact with new people, the more acquainted you become with the various and less subtle patterns of virtual interactions. Although at the outset, be prepared to encounter more quiet conversational gaps than you used to and note that they’re not always a bad thing.
17. You’re going to cover less content.
Digital discussions rarely discuss as much information as in-person conversations that take the very same duration of hours. I haven’t found out why that’s the case, but it’s still going to happen, so I’m just going to go ahead and term it the universal reality of virtual meetings.
As a consequence, my basic rule of thumb is that you really should plan to cover 20% less content in the same period of time during a simulated pitch. Taking account for this in advance will either help you reorganise the pitch or allow you the prospect of organising longer pitch sessions.
18. No one cares for your dog.
Yeah, the dog is lovely. It doesn’t matter, the buyers you’re pitching are not there to see your puppy. They’re there to speak to you and know about your business. When your dog goes into your room at a video call and you pick him up and wave his little hand on the phone, it doesn’t matter how adorable he is. It’s always a diversion that tells the person you’re talking to that there’s something odd in how you’re interacting. After all, even if it’s virtual, the investors are going to judge your professionalism.
Keep telling yourself at a simulated pitch meeting that the goal is to make the meeting as much about you, your business, and the pitch as achievable. Anything that takes the listener’s interest away from you and what you’re offering is a negative thing.
Our modern reality makes it even more important than ever to set the best foot in the increasingly competitive start-up environment. Failure to connect electronically would not be accepted, and second opportunities are impossible. As investors raise their prices around the globe, you want to offer yourself the best shot of success and give them no excuse to reject you or your business.
To learn more useful tips and tricks on how to be a successful entrepreneur, keep reading The Money Gig.0