It’s funny how some things that were once familiar have now become novelties. Working in an office and wearing a suit seem quaint and slightly eccentric. Last week we hosted our first in-person workshop since January, and it was a very surreal experience. Aside from wearing heels again (not recommended if you’ve been in runners all year!) it was a pleasure to see people’s reactions up close and sense the vibe in the room.
It’s harder to connect with people over a screen, but Zoom is likely to be a permanent part of our future. It’s very likely that you’ll be pitching for corporate partners via an online presentation and you need to work a little harder to get the impact you need.
Here are some tips for everyone wanting to raise their game on pitching by Zoom.
Lighting and sound
Natural light falling directly on your face is terrific but can be unpredictable. One passing raincloud can cause a sudden shadow that turns you into Darth Vader onscreen. A simple and cheap halo light that shines on your face is a great investment to make sure you can be seen clearly. Otherwise, sit yourself facing a window, with the window behind your camera/laptop.
You can use the microphone on your computer and if you want better clarity and depth use an external mic like Rode or Meteor. If you’re just talking to a PowerPoint then it’s probably not necessary. However, if you’re showing a video, you need to enhance the sound. You may have got a fabulous video highlighting your work, so make sure you get the full emotional impact. If you’re delivering by Zoom then share the screen, go to the Advanced option and click the little box on the left that says ‘Share Sound’. Then you’ll hear the full sound quality of the video, not a tinny laptop. (Thanks to Karen Bentley for that tip!)
Matt Church, the guru on speakership, recommends that changing your physical position will change the energy of your delivery. His rule of thumb is ‘stand to present, perch to facilitate a discussion, sit to participate and listen’. Try delivering your pitch standing up and it will change the level of energy significantly.
Let’s be honest- people aren’t really listening to you. Or at least, they’re not listening to the detail. You’ll probably follow up with a detailed written proposal anyway. They’re showing up for the experience of what it would be like to partner with you. So don’t stress about covering every little detail in the partnership, or you risk having a PowerPoint that’s full of text. Focus on how you can give them an awesome experience that’s full of emotional engagement and empathy.
Images work better than text and video is even more effective. But think about other ways you can get them involved as active participants and keep their level of interest high. Consider using artefacts and props to bring the presentation to life. I’ve seen people use small cue cards with questions, items from their programs or simple things around the office to illustrate a point. One guy used two cans of soft drink to make a point about investing in your own mental and physical health. You can crush the empty can easily, but it’s almost impossible to crush a can that’s full. I can’t remember the detail of his presentation, but the visual of the two cans stayed with me.
Consider adding a tangible element to your Zoom presentation, as people love to play with physical things. I recently attended a presentation by the lovely team at AMRRIC, who sent out in advance a package of tea, biscuits, a flyer and a memento to everyone participating that afternoon. Be sure to plan ahead for this one as post can be unpredictable!
You don’t have to be face to face with your corporate prospect to inspire them about your organisation and your cause. But you’ll need to work a little harder to give them a memorable experience, not just the nuts and bolts of the partnership. Happy Zooming!