video pitch

Video Pitching: It’s not just a webcam!

It became standard to use video pitches (recorded or live) in selection processes for accelerators, competitions or even to be considered in a traditional VC deal flow. For them, advantages are straightforward: it’s faster to watch a 3′-7′ video than reading a complete application or meeting in person, you get to see the other people (so you know they, supposedly, are not maniacs), and forces entrepreneurs to focus on main points. Well, and you can have all of that wearing flip flops…

For entrepreneurs, however, it brings an additional complexity: a video pitch is not just a recorded version… you need to adapt your speech, material and even preparation is different.

Live (videoconference) Pitch

A live pitch over videoconference (Skype, Hangout, BlueJeans, Go to Meeting…) it’s a different game; in my opinion, it’s much more technical.

1) You won’t be able to use too many resources

It’s almost like a face to face presentation… but worse! You will be talking, presenting slides and, depending on the conference system used, might do a demo. Using different resources increases the odds of something going wrong.

2) Technology issues

On a pitch over videoconference, technology can bring additional challenges:

  • Make sure you have a stable and fast internet connection. You should use a cable and dedicated connection. Sorry Starbucks! Also, you should have a plan B in case connection goes down before/ during your presentation.
  • Make sure to extensively test the conferencing software. Check the compatibility with your computer (no, you cannot use your table of Facetime) and the other systems you might need (Power Point, Prezi, Video, Browser…);
  • Having a backup (previously shared) PDF is important, in case things go south.
  • Check how you look (lights) and how you sound beforehand. Test the microphone before and watch for the noise caused by headsets scrubbing your shirt or beard.

3) There will be delay… so prepare yourself with it

My pitches are usually fast paced, with 3 slides per minute. Over video, though, it’s almost sure you will face 2-3 seconds delay (at least), and this could be disturbing with a fast paced pitch. You need to slow things down: less slides, with more information on each.

Also, what I do is to prepare myself with the delay: I change slides a couple seconds before I’ll talk about them, so it compensates the delay. Record yourself on the other computer to check and adjust your strategy. I also like to use a second computer during the official pitch itself, so I can monitor if there’s any change in delay.

4) Be (really) prepared for a Plan B – you will probably need it!

Things go wrong over videoconference pitches more often; much more! As such, you need to be prepared in case something goes wrong and, for example, you need to switch to telephone pitch (and it sucks!).

Share your deck before your presentation. If you need to switch to a voice only, they will be able to follow your presentation. One tip when you cannot show your slides (as when you’re over the phone) is to announce every transition, with the slide number: “Slide 23”, “Slide 33″… This way you make sure everyone is (literally) on the same page.

Also, for cases like this you should restrain from using animations: it will be extremely annoying to tell people to click through them, a few times per slide. So, if video doesn’t work, ask people to open the PDF files shared previously.

Recorded Video Pitch

They say production value doesn’t count… BS!

That’s a tricky one; investors are not expecting you to produce a Steven Spielberg movie. And if you do, that will raise questions on your money management skills. Having said that, a structured and well finished video will get you extra points.

I remember the first time I made a recorded pitch: it was a traditional VC player, and they had asked me a 12 minute video pitch, which would be used at their weekly investment committee. “Production value is not important”, they said… and I called BS! I prepared the video, with smooth transitions between my presentation with slides on a large TV screen and slides/ demo videos themselves on the screen; well finished introduction, cohesive flow. A week later they said I was moving to their next phase; they were impressed with the pitch and decided to use it as a reference for other entrepreneurs. The extra mile paid off!

Take advantage of the format: mix resources!

One great advantage of recorded pitches is that you’re able to use different types of resources: your image, presentation, video demo etc.

What I like to do is to present over a flatscreen and make transitions between my image presenting and slides. Making transitions every 5-10 seconds is important, as it gives a good pace to the video. Just for reference, action movies cut scenes at every 3 seconds… so what we’re suggesting is reasonable.

Having said all of that, we advise you to be sober on animations and resources, specially with music/ soundtrack, which I advise against… and believe me, I’ve made that error before (check below).

Recorded elevator pitch

Some processes request you to make an even shorter video, just presenting yourself and the team. In this case, it will be hard to use slides or other resources. You should focus on you and the team.

See, since this will be a self presentation only, you got watch out not to look a narcisistic douche, as I did on the video above, to a Techstar selection process. No wonder I never heard of them!

I was the only founder of AgendaPet and had a team of contractors at the time. For this reason, I decided just to present myself. Looking back now I realize what a big mistake that was! I should have explored my model, and team, even if they were contractors!

Video pitching is here to stay. It brings many benefits os a face 2 face presentation, but without spending all that time in addition to the presentation. Be ready, prepare yourself and go the extra mile!

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