This may not be something you realized, but remote pitches don’t have to be terrible. Yes, remote pitches have forced many, particularly those that really know how to work a room, to completely rethink their presentational strategies (can’t give them that ol’ razzle dazzle without a proper handwash first). Pitching is an aspect of business that relies so heavily on in-person dynamics and energy. People partner with who they like and it’s just way easier to be likable 2 feet away from someone instead of 200 miles.
Capturing the attention of your meeting attendees comes with a whole new set of challenges as you are now competing against the distractions within their home and the general weariness that accompanies being on the receiving end of pitches all day long. Then, there’s the added layer of potentially having to pitch to a black screen with nothing but a name staring ominously back at you as some people elect to go without a camera (or even worse mute themselves altogether!) making it even harder to gauge just what exactly they are thinking or feeling. The benefit of remote pitches is that they allow for renewed creativity in the art of pitching. It’s a do-whatever-it-takes-to-make-an-impression moment where the pitch and storytelling are now front and center to make up for the lack of in-person connectivity that usually drives meetings.
In a way, video meetings and presentations level the pitching playing field. The most polished presenter can suddenly be thwarted by a poor internet connection or bad lighting while the bumbling, awkward presenter can shine simply because they can relax by slipping into some comfy pants and focusing on their pitch instead of constantly worrying about checking to see how checked out of the meeting attendees may be. There’s even a lack of intimidation when you find yourself suddenly sitting in someone’s living room or kitchen instead of an office. This is where people are usually at their most comfortable and least guarded. Being invited into someone’s home humanizes them and removes the intimidation factor. Sure, she’s the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, but now that you can see what her curtains look like and that she has Fifty Shades of Grey on her bookshelf, is she suddenly as intimidating as she would be behind a glass desk in an office that overlooks Hollywood with several Emmys looming over her shoulder? It’s easy to forget people, even those in powerful positions, are simply people at the end of the day (although there are many who would prefer you didn’t see them that way and continued to have the fear of God in your heart every time you even think of their name). Yes, they hold power and make important decisions, but there’s something about seeing how normal someone is within their home that removes those intimidation walls.
Everyone is operating with the same tools and devising new strategies to make their pitches as flawless and interesting as possible (if you’re looking for recommendations on how to keep those internal sessions engaging, there are several tips here). At the end of the day, the same basic guidelines of pitching remain even over video calls:
Relax and be confident
Keep audiences engaged
Have a great presentation
There’s a particular emphasis on the last two points. As a creator, remote pitching should be looked at as a way to improve your storytelling abilities. After all, it takes a truly skilled creative to sell an idea without being able to physically engage with a client. Not only are clients looking at your storytelling capabilities, they’re also looking even more closely at your ideas. Simply put, your ideas need to be spectacular because they are really leading the show now. And that engagement? Well, now you have to ask for it. Force your meeting attendees to engage with you (and unmute themselves) by providing feedback, thoughts, or even just an affirmation that they haven’t left the pitch to go pour a bowl of cereal.
All of this isn’t meant to put unnecessary pressure on you. Quite the opposite. This is an opportunity to push your innovativeness and win some new business as a result. Now is the time to focus your pitch and trim the fat. Make your delivery count with clear, direct, and distinct points, but also feel free to explore new ways to get clients invested. Look at remote pitching as a testing lab. Figure out what works and lean into it. As creators and communicators, the expectation is that you know how to effectively communicate and what better way to showcase your expertise than mastering the art of the remote pitch?
Video meetings and pitches aren’t going away any time soon and may even become more commonplace even after the majority of people make their way back into an office. The stigmas previously associated with video meetings have been tackled and solved for and in some cases, video meetings are much easier and time-efficient than in-person. Getting comfortable with both video and in-person pitching and adjusting the pitch theater appropriately only makes for a stronger communicator and one that can be effective and remarkable no matter the presentational medium. The rules of remote pitching are being rewritten daily. Challenge yourself and stand out.