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By: Janine Kick

Eight months into COVID-19 and we’ve all had our fair share of Zoom meetings with our teams, clients, and prospects. We’ve mastered the basics (at least I hope so!): have a clean, de-cluttered background showing a little personality, the camera should be at eye level, if using a deck it should be on the monitor where the camera is – so as not to appear distracted, solid colored clothing is best and the light should always be in front of you. Simple enough, right? 

Zoom meetings with someone you have a pre-existing relationship with is one thing, but what about when you’re pitching to a VC for the first time? The art of a successful pitch (Zoom or not) is dependent on your ability to build a relationship with your audience. So, how do you do that through a computer screen? Below are 4 tips to build a relationship with your future investor virtually. 

  • Prepare to Stay Calm

Prior to your call, take a few moments to collect yourself and draw on your emotional anchor —you are a ninja. Identify any “tripwires”–topics you may want to strategically avoid— and a plan of how to answer them positively if they come up. Finally, identify the main purpose of the meeting and make it a glaring neon sign in your head (or neon post-it note next to your camera if you’re like me!) that you can calmly return to if and when the stress seep in. 

  • Small Talk is Big Talk

People do business with people and it’s imperative to show who you are as a person even over Zoom. Early stage investors take a particular interest in the entrepreneurs they invest in. Spend the first few minutes of your call getting to know the person you’re speaking with as you would if you were in person. Asking open ended questions, allows you to hear the person speak positively about their passions and interests. It can also provide you insight about their core beliefs and values. Oh, and don’t forget to smile! Add that to your neon post-it, too… 

  • Be Dynamic

On Zoom, a large amount of nonverbal communication is lost. Your own voice and expressions will influence the other person’s mood and reactions more than most anything else. As a result, your tone, pitch, tempo and cadence are your secret weapons. Utilizing a power pause to emphasize a critical point subconsciously tells your potential investor you are delivering a meaningful message — and that they should let it sink in. 

  • Listen & Repeat 

Pitching over Zoom makes listening 10x more difficult but you must learn to listen. And then repeat. Phrases like, “I see your point” or “That’s right” are music to a speaker’s ear. Use these phrases sparingly but use them to tell your audience you hear them and value what they have to say. People are more likely to listen to you if they feel heard first. 

In summary, whether you’re pitching a prospect or VC, reviewing an account with a client, or hosting an internal team meeting it should feel like an intimate, high-touch conversation not a high-tech presentation. Bring your personality to the front and be human in this new found, virtual world.