Author – Maryanne Johnston

www.maryannejohnston.co.uk

mj@maryannejohnston.co.uk

There was a time when I’d ask clients this question and the answer required a thumbnail sketch of their career so far. Nowadays, it leads to an entirely different discussion.

As we all present and pitch online, the time you have to capture the attention of the audience doesn’t change; the ability to retain their interest is equally important. You may also be one of 100 pitches they will have seen that week, so why will your pitch stick in their mind? The fact you are working from home makes no difference. Over the last few months, I’ve been working with many entrepreneurs pitching to investors at online events, some live and some recorded, so I thought I’d share some of the ideas they used to stand out from the crowd.

Use your background

You and what you have to say are the most critical aspect of any pitch; there is no doubt about that. However, if you operate in a competitive market where there are several solutions, investors need to recognise and associate with your brand quickly. You need to be memorable.

There’s lots of advice on keeping things simple and we wouldn’t disagree entirely. However, with your digital platform, you have a fantastic opportunity to profile your brand in the minds of the investors for the entire time you are pitching.

Use it.

Adapting your background is simple and effective. Prepare a background in brand colours with your logo and add it to the system. However, think about your positioning during the pitch. Don’t have the logo in the middle of the background as your head will cover it.

Think like a newsreader and position it in the corner to the left as your audience watches.

You could include your brand values but you must keep this simple. The more you add, the more it will distract from what you are saying. If you use a branded green screen be sure not to move around too much as you’ll create shadows which can be distracting.

Creative Background

If you are less comfortable with technology and would prefer to have a physical background, use this to add some context.

Converge Challenge ran an online business training programme for 60 businesses/projects coming out of universities all over Scotland in June. Working alongside the Entrepreneur Business School, I ran the Pitching Workshops for these entrepreneurs ahead of two pitching events held at the end of the programme. There were some fantastic examples of creativity that came through.

For example, Brian Quinn from Aquaculture Health Laboratory who delivered his pitch from his lab with members of his team behind him, visually showing credibility and traction – they have premises, machinery and a team.

Olufemi Johnson from Intellipalp delivered her pitch with a simple background, really excellent lighting and showed their device – another simple and effective way of standing out and being memorable.

Steve Owens from Huli delivered his pitch with his bike hanging on the wall behind him. Huli is an app that automatically creates routes for outdoor activities including cycling, running and walking – so the bike is an appropriate reminder of what they do.

Interactive Pitching

So the final example takes a bit of practice but can be highly entertaining and memorable – which is the whole point. This year’s winner of Converge Challenge ‘Pitch to your Peers’ event was Lucy Fisher of Knit-it.

Lucy has developed a platform to bring learning to knit up to date. She used a simple but entertaining and memorable way to deliver her pitch, using various props and other items to emphasise the points she wanted to highlight. As she talked about the platform she showed it on an iPad when talking about her global ambition on came a blow-up globe when she talked about investment she flicked through a wad of cash!

This approach requires quite a bit of rehearsal and confidence in your abilities and those of your team. But it was dynamic and undoubtedly helped her stand out.

Be Memorable

I know there are a host of different abilities and styles when pitching, that means not everything above will suit you or your business. However, I would urge you to move away from the blank white background if you can and avoid the poorly lit broom cupboard and try to use the tools you have to bring your pitch to life in an appropriate manner.

When you are preparing for your next Zoom or Teams investment pitch, think about how you can best use your time and set up to convey your message and stick in the mind of the investor.

Make your business memorable and you might just get that next investment you need to grow.