Virtual Pitch Events: A How-To Guide for Entrepreneurs

COVID-19 has encouraged VCs and fundraising organisations to adapt and embrace technology – and NorthInvest is no exception. Since lockdown began we’ve hosted 3 pitch events over Zoom, connecting 18 start-ups with more than 40 investors, to positive feedback from entrepreneurs and investors alike.

Safe to say: the virtual pitch event is here to stay.

First: what happens at a NorthInvest virtual pitch event?

Pitch event formats differ from organisation to organisation. Our virtual format follows basically that of a traditional NorthInvest pitch event but without the handshakes and canapes! Up to 7 entrepreneurs are invited to give a 5-minute screen-share presentation to investors across our Angel and VC network, followed by a 5-minute moderated Q&A session and virtual networking. To help you reach as many investors as possible, we’re now combining our Leeds and Newcastle pitch events with the Innovation SuperNetwork into one online event. 

I’m familiar with Zoom – do I still need to prepare?

Yes. It turns out remote events just add a new dimension to preparedness. To “Zoom” may now be a regular verb and we’re only all too familiar with how it works, but don’t be complacent. The irony of a tech entrepreneur being floored mid-pitch by a reluctant share screen is not lost on us (or investors, for that matter…)

6 Preparation Must-dos for Pitch Perfection:

Virtual pitch events help you share your proposition with investors, from wherever you are. That’s not an excuse to compromise on presentability. Treat a virtual pitch as you would any physical speaking opportunity and use the tips below to make a great first impression.

1. Attend the tech rehearsal – and don’t swap your equipment afterwards!

We offer tech rehearsals ahead of each of our virtual events and a sound check 15 minutes beforehand to mitigate any technical issues, so please don’t then swap to different equipment for the event itself. You can have a killer pitch, but if we can’t hear you, it will fall on deaf ears. Literally.

2. Memorise your pitch

It can be very tempting to be lured into a false sense of presentation security with a computer in front of you, but the audience can always tell if you’re reading a pitch word-for-word off the screen. 

Why is memorising your pitch important? If you are fully prepared on the content of your presentation, it allows you to truly engage with what you’re saying (and, by extension, engages your audience). It adds all-important authenticity, credibility, and gives you a bit more headspace to relax and actually enjoy the experience. Remember: investors invest in the individual – if a 5-minute pitch is patchy and you don’t know key details about your business by heart, what does that say about your start-up? 

3. Lighting 

Don’t hide in the shadows – this is your time to shine! Natural lighting in front of you is ideal, but if you’re stuck, you can recreate a natural glow with a strategically placed lamp positioned behind your laptop, illuminating your face. 

Avoid back-lighting at all costs. 

4. Hide Your (Actual) Dirty Laundry: A Plea from Investors

Be mindful of your background.

We get it: space is restricted at the moment, and investors aren’t going to haul you over the coals for questionable decor choices or a less-than-polished home. We do, however, encourage a made bed and hiding dirty laundry out of shot at the very least. 

A blank wall is perfect, but if you don’t have one, consider a pull-up banner or virtual background – bonus points if these incorporate your branding.  

5. Find your good side 

Any selfie enthusiast (or Instagram content creator) will tell you: it’s all in the angle. For added professionalism and simulating being ‘present’ in the room, set your camera at eye level by stacking books or firm cushions underneath your laptop to avoid slumping over an upwards-tilted screen.

6. Make “eye” contact

Create the illusion of eye contact by looking straight into your camera when speaking.

Eye contact not only builds trust between individuals, but it also makes people more likely to remember you. In a study by the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Stirling, researchers found that eye contact by participants on a video call increased retention of what participants said. When you’re competing for investors’ attention, this can only be a good thing. 

If feeling like a news presenter isn’t in your comfort zone, practise with some patient friends over your next virtual happy hour.

Did we miss anything? Share your top tips (or virtual horror stories) with us.

Are you an entrepreneur looking to raise and want to take part in a virtual pitch event? Apply for investment here.