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The perfect ”virtual” pitch

Bryan Smith
April 18, 2020

Video conferencing is a reality in the modern world. Sooner or later, you are going to have to be telepresent in a situation when you are trying to convince someone of something. This is pitching.

It doesn’t matter what exactly you’re trying to accomplish – maybe you’re trying to convince a business client to use a product or service that you offer, or maybe you’re interviewing for a job. Fundamentally, you are trying to make someone come to a desired conclusion by looking at you through a screen, and listening to what you have to say.

There are some ground rules for using the video conferencing platform to do this.

Treat it like it’s face to face

It’s important to remember that there actually is another person present there with you. You aren’t there putting on a play (many first-timers make that mistake), you are there to communicate with people in real-time.

Even though you may physically be working from home, it’s important to remove distractions from your environment so that you are just as focused as you would be if you physically traveled to have a meeting with someone.

Be prepared

Just like with a normal presentation, preparation and forward-planning helps give a structure to your pitch. Have an idea of what topics you want to touch on, and have thought out way to deliver your points.

Rehearsal is key, more so than in a face to face meeting. Remote video can be a technical challenge for many. But there is a basic checklist you want to go through before entering an online meeting.

  • Internet connection
    You want to go to speedtest.net and look at your download and upload speeds. Both matter for streaming with high video and audio quality. To stream video you need an upload speed of at least 1.5 mbps to stream at low quality, 3 mbps to stream at standard, and 5 mbps to stream in high quality.
  • Lighting and video quality
    A video camera is only ever as good as the lighting of whatever is in front of it. You want to test out how you look to your computer’s camera to find a good spot. Usually you want a plain background and a well-lit area, where you are slightly more brightly lit than your background. This is something you can and should experiment with before your pitch.
  • Virtual location details
    Just like in physical meetings, virtual meetings have a venue. It’s just that their venue is cyberspace rather than physical space. For video conferences, this is usually a link to a ‘room’ where you will be meeting at a specific time. It’s a good idea to make sure you have the correct details shared with everyone attending, and that you can get there without a hitch.
  • Shared materials and props
    Think of shared files, or presentations as your virtual props. You may have a PowerPoint presentation or something to show them on Google Drive. Make sure that if you’re going to be showing them with your screen that you can comfortably screen share, and that if you are going to be distributing something for them to look at during your pitch that you share those materials in advance. Google Drive is a great way to share and manage who has documents and files.

Be willing to improvise

Virtual meetings are in real-time. While your material should be fairly rehearsed, you can count on someone asking you a question that you hadn’t thought out. This shouldn’t throw a monkey-wrench in your pitch.

Some people only know how to go through a script. In remote video conferences, if you’re monologuing off a script then it can be hard to even know when someone wants to interject a question or a comment.

It’s important to leave pauses and regularly expect feedback, acknowledgment, and requests for clarification. Being able to adapt your pitch and re-explain your material is key to any pitch, but in video conferencing it becomes even more important to pay close attention to others, and give them room to ask questions.

The perfect pitch is ultimately a collaborative effort, and focusing on including everybody in the active conversation that is your pitch is of utmost importance when making a virtual pitch.

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