“Whilst there is nothing quite like interacting with someone face-to-face, the ever growing travel bill and arduous and stressful task of packing props makes it less than ideal for salespeople. However, much like other aspects of life – technology provides range of easy and inexpensive tools to present the perfect pitch online. “
The right tool for the trade
It might sound obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many people make this simple mistake; remember the six P’s – proper prior preparation prevents poor performance. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the web chat service you use with your friends is suitable for pitching to potential customers or business partners.
Preparation can be clunky, as many services require both parties to have installed the software prior to the presentation taking place– not ideal on both accounts.
The simple solution to this is to use services such as GoToMeeting, which only requires a one off access link for participants. Once clicked, presenters can go straight into their pitch whilst enjoying features such as HD video, share screen and multi-platform compatibility. Tools such as these come in all different shapes and sizes – a free version for budding entrepreneurs and paid versions for those wanting to conduct meetings with up to 100 people.
Function over fashion
One of the worst things that can happen in a pitch is the audience becoming distracted. Presentation tools such as PowerPoint, Prezi and Swag are common place both in the office and online, and are a great way to strengthen your points – especially given many integrate with video conferencing tools, and can be shared on the screen.
However, time and time again I see the same mistake where people fill their slides with words. As a rule of thumb, there should be no more than 10 words on each slide. The same goes for special effects – not only are they time consuming to include, but serve no real storytelling purpose, and detract from the point of the pitch. By minimising text and graphics, you minimise the chances of your audience being distracted –allowing them to focus on your speech and central message.
Lights, webcam, action!
You’d be forgiven in thinking that all webcams are the same, and to be fair, most are. With that said, the quality of your laptop and type of webcam can be the fine line between a quality transmission and the failure that can sometimes be technology, so it’s important to invest in the right tools.
From the audience’s perspective, their visual of the presenter is key to their level of engagement. You don’t need to buy an outrageously expensive camera, but rather a mid-range device that can help the audience see what you want them to see (whether that be a demonstration or your facial expression) – Brother and Logitech webcams are good places to start.
On a side note, technology can only help to a point – make sure you have enough indirect lighting around and in front of you – making sure these are outside the frame of the video so as to avoid you looking washed out or being cast into a shadow. Also, if you wear glasses make sure they are not smudged or avoid wearing them at all if that’s a possibility as they often produce a glare on screen.
Speak, don’t shout
Depending on the nature of the pitch, you may need to conduct a demonstration. Although most computers and webcams have in-built microphones, you can find yourself having to distance yourself from these devices to give your audience a bigger and better picture of what you are trying to explain – resulting in you having to shout across the room.
One of the best ways to combat this is by using a wireless headset. The benefit of using this in your pitch is that you have the microphone close to your mouth so you can speak naturally, as well as having speakers by your ears to hear any questions from the other side. Additionally, due to headset mics being directional, they are often better at cutting out surrounding noise that may distract your audience – plus you have free use of your hands!
The job isn’t done until you seal the deal
You’re done – or so you think. If you play your cards right, by the end of your pitch you will have time to conduct a little Q&A. Following this, you should not let your level of communication fall flat as you will no doubt be asked to supply the audience with additional details and materials. Be sure to follow up after the pitch, and make sure your electronic communication is just as effective as your in-person communication.
Typically, email suffices for this sort of communication, but there may be times when you are required to send large files such as a recording of your pitch or confidential documents such as contracts and market research. For these I recommend a more secure file-sharing tool. Business grade document management services, like ShareFile, are a great alternative as it lets you choose your password policy, set account lockout and session timeout thresholds, as well as determine who can access files, folders and subfolders.
You can also limit the number of times a file may be downloaded, along with setting an expiration dates on sensitive documents and prevent files from being opened using third-party apps as well as accessible offline via login – all quite handy depending on the sensitivity of your idea that you are pitching.
Lindsay Brown, Regional Director of Mobility Apps at Citrix Asia Pacific