At BCC, we want to do our part to help tomorrow’s innovators commercialize their world-changing ideas.
That’s why we’re tackling one of the toughest parts of the process—pitching to investors.
Pitching is hard even during normal times. But during a global pandemic—when your pitch is shifted to a Zoom call or GoTo Meeting session—it's hard to fathom that a successful pitch can even be done.
We sat down with Lisa Chang, Director of the Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (TEC) Program at North Carolina State University, to discuss what tech transfer groups and entrepreneurs can do before, during and after a virtual pitch to achieve success.
BCC: What do entrepreneurs need to do before and after their virtual pitch in order to be successful?
Lisa: The environment for pitches for funding has always been highly competitive, and that's become even more heightened as resources have become more scarce during the pandemic. It's essential that entrepreneurs do their homework and understand their audience and objective before any pitch so that they stand out for the right reasons.
Create a strategic slide deck
- You can't craft one pitch and use it for everything. Carefully research the specific requirements for the request to pitch you are responding to. Choose only the critical elements of your backstory that will create a compelling business case.
- Demonstrate the value of what you are trying to do in clear alignment with the request. Unless required, your pitch deck should not include lengthy text. Create clean, legible slides with graphics and bullet points that convey your main concepts, but make sure you're the one telling the story about what you're trying to do. The slides are only there to keep you on point and enhance your storytelling. Don't give your audience the opportunity to tune you out while they read them.
- Resist the temptation to cram in every single detail about you, your idea, or your company. A successful pitch will invite continued conversation where you will have the opportunity to expand on your story.
Rehearse, then rehearse again, and again
- Rehearse your pitch on the technology platform that will be used for the final version so that you aren't thrown off by how to screen share, use onscreen annotation, muting, or other technology issues, and so you know how to finish within the specified time period.
- Frequent rehearsal is extremely important if you have multiple presenters since only one of you can run the slide deck. Practice until your transitions are clean. Be prepared to deliver the pitch without slides if needed. Look directly into the webcam versus the monitor whenever possible to engage your audience.
- Making eye contact in a virtual world means not looking at the person on the screen. Practice delivering the pitch to friends or colleagues who don't know anything about what you are doing to see if your value proposition resonates, and tweak accordingly.
- Be prepared to answer questions succinctly and honestly. Practice how you will respond when you don't know the answer to a question, or if you believe it's too early to know a clear answer without detracting from your credibility.
- If multiple representatives of your company will respond to questions, determine ahead of time who will be responsible for what so that you don't talk on top of each other.
Ask for feedback
- Always thank your hosts for the opportunity.
- Whether the pitch is received well or not, request feedback about how you can improve, and what other recommendations they may have for you regarding pitch competitions, contacts resources, or other issues.
For more tips on how to nail a virtual pitch, download our free white paper: Virtual Pitching in the Tech Transfer World: Tips for Success.