Depending on where you live, you may have already been working from home for at least eight months now. With the cases of COVID19 skyrocketing every single day and the best-case scenario for the release of the vaccine still weeks away, it may be safe to conclude that we will still be spending the remaining weeks of 2020 and even the start of 2021 working in our pjs, in the comforts of home. If that is the case, then you may already be a master in the art of presenting anything and everything, from monthly reports to marketing pitches, right? Right?
Or maybe you are still finding this entire scenario ridiculous and long for the days when you can see your boss or your prospective client face-to-face when you are throwing some ideas to them on how to effectively market their businesses online. Do not worry though, because you may not be alone in that. So many marketers, especially those employed by agencies are more at home with the practice of wooing clients by pitching to them in person. Gone are the days of firm handshakes, casual small talk, and after meeting drinks with teammates when you get to sign your client (or get a yes from your boss). Now, everything has to be done online. Hopefully, you have already found your rhythm and gotten used to it. If not, here are some tips on acing virtual pitches that should result in equally satisfying results as when you are doing in-person pitches.
The prep work
As in when you are doing in-person marketing pitches, you need to do a lot, if not more prep work when presenting pitches virtually. You need to be comfortable with the tech-related aspects of your presentation, such as sharing your screen so that everybody will see your presentation deck, as well as with troubleshooting possible tech difficulties in a virtual meeting, such as poor video, no audio, video and audio not in sync, and choppy video or audio because of intermittent Internet connection.
of course, you also need to diligently prepare the pitch itself. Map out the portions where you will be sharing your screen, when you will need to see your audience (a must in your pitch's Q&A portion) and you need to determine the length of your pitch, obviously. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes action in virtual meetings and you cannot afford to have a bored audience who might get distracted by a family member, the antics of noisy neighbors, or even passing vehicles.
Finally, part of your preparation would be to know your audience intimately well. A lot of sensory cues are not readily available in virtual meetings, so you might miss changes in facial expression, uncomfortable noises because everybody is on mute, and body language. If you know your audience very well, you will be guided on how to roll out your pitch effectively.
As with an in-person pitch, practice makes better pitches. Your pitch being a virtual one will be more of an advantage since you can record yourself rehearsing and the recording will be like the experience your audience will have on your actual presentation. In fact, do several recordings of your practice so that you can have a back-up of your actual pitch. That way, if things on your pitch day become a series of unfortunate events, then you have the option of just actually playing your recorded pitch. You can give yourself some peace of mind knowing you have a back-up when virtual sh*t hits the fan.
Best practices on D-Day
On your actual pitch, make it a point to be as spontaneous and lively as possible. The format is already virtual, so the human interaction element of your pitch is already diminished. You don't want to treat your audience to an overly rehearsed pitch that may get into robotic and artificial territory. The suggestion above of playing your rehearsal during your pitch is just for worst case scenarios involving technical failure. It is still best for you to pitch clearly and naturally and your audience deserves nothing less.
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