Digitise your pitch events – tips and advice for how to move online during the COVID-19 pandemic
With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting on the way we work and conduct business, many organisations are pushing forward by making use of online platforms. From regular catch-ups with internal teams through to pitching events, there are lots of opportunities to keep some semblance of normality during these difficult times.
Last week we held an online roundtable to discuss digitising pitch events and share knowledge between members of our community. Following on from that, we’ve collated some of the key points and tips to help you.
What software can you use to digitise your pitch event?
There are a number of platforms available each with different costs associated with them. The overall feeling was that Zoom is the best in terms of video and audio quality. A free package is available on Zoom but meetings are limited to 40 minutes and many of the platform’s best functions aren’t part of it. If you choose one of the subscription packages, you can add on a webinar feature and cater for up to 1,000 participants, depending on which package you choose.
An alternative is GoToMeeting, which is similar to Zoom with a number of subscription packages and add-ons.
How do digital pitch events vary from in-person pitching events?
Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter and as most of us are stuck at home, we view time slots in a different way too.
Firstly, pitching sessions should be kept short, ideally around 40-50 minutes in length, and where possible grouped by sector to ensure that you hold the attention of those who attend. Each founder should be given a short slot – if you have lots of companies try 90 seconds but if you have only three or four, you could give them a maximum of 10 minutes each.
Secondly, pitching events often take place in the evening but in the online world, afternoons are preferable. Consider setting yours up for an early-to-mid-afternoon slot so it finishes before the workday.
Should digital pitch events be completely live or partially pre-recorded?
Choose what works best for you. If you have participants that are proficient with technology, then going live shouldn’t be a problem, though it’s important to give your presenters a detailed brief on what to do or organise a dry run-through before the big day. However, pre-recording pitches can alleviate the pressure that pitching via an online platform can have. One thing to consider is that pitching live gives the founder their moment to shine whereas pre-recording could make it less engaging.
Do digital pitching events result in investments?
Interest has started to grow for online pitching events and once one investment is made, it encourages others to invest. At the moment smaller investments are happening as a result of digital pitching events but larger investments are less likely to happen purely off the back of an online pitch as investors prefer to see founders face-to-face before committing funds.
Top tips for ensuring your digital pitching event goes off without a hitch
- Implement a self-certify process prior to the event so you don’t get anyone in your pitch that shouldn’t be there.
- Preparation is key so make sure you rehearse and spend time running through the event with colleagues and pitching companies to eliminate any potential technology issues.
- Send your pitch deck out to participants in advance so they have time to form intelligent questions prior to the event.
- Make sure you mute everyone at the beginning of the call and remind your participants to disable notifications on their devices to prevent any unnecessary interruptions.
- Utilise the ‘raise your hand’ function on Zoom so you can identify who has a question. Participants can add their questions in the chat function so you can moderate before you reach the Q&A part.
- During the Q&A, unmute the relevant participant so they can ask their question directly.
- Invest in a headset and encourage others to do the same as this prevents audio leakage and improves the quality of consistency.
- If you use a pre-recorded video during your event, make sure you switch the audio source from internal mic to video to improve the sound quality.
- Run polls between pitches to get immediate feedback and keep the audience engaged.
- Follow-up your event with recordings of the pitches so investors can revisit them if they want to.