As we move towards a new normal of hybrid workforce and increasingly virtual environments, pitches also move to the virtual scene and agencies will soon be required to up their game in a yet fiercer and more competitive environment.
When you look at it, virtual pitches come with a range of benefits: they're healthier for the planet, allow both parties to stay in a place of comfort, and save endless trips to agencies having to travel all across the world. However, reading the room will inevitably become more challenging, and having your own personality shine through a Zoom call may not be as easy as in person.
Tim Glister, Creative Director at Teamspirit, reached out to share a few tips on how to master the virtual pitch below. Give it a nice read!
How to master the virtual pitch in a hybrid working world
It’s been over a year since the first UK national lockdown and our lives have changed in so many ways – from the way we work to the way we socialise, how we engage with our own health and wellbeing and our work-life balance.
For lots of communications agencies, like us, the pandemic caused the pace of digital transformation to change overnight. We’ve discovered the magic of Teams chats, the flexibility of having meetings remotely, and the benefits of avoiding the tedious commute for conversations that can be had on Zoom or over the phone instead. It’s also reinforced the value of in-person communication for things that aren’t as easily transmitted digitally, like brainstorms, check-ins, networking, and bigger, more creative meetings, like new business pitches.
When it comes to pitches, the transition to digital has thrown up unique challenges as agencies learn how to present virtually, and successfully engage a team. One of the things we take for granted when we’re physically in the same room is the ability to convey energy, emotion, and passion – much easier to express in person than over a screen, in 2D. The first pitch after the lockdown had us scratching our heads, thinking about how we could bring it to the life when the usual ways that we’d prepare a good pitch were stripped away.
We’re now in a place where the end of social distancing restrictions altogether is on the horizon. With this, comes much talk of a new hybrid working world, one that combines the ease, efficiency and flexibility of remote working, with the not-forgotten value of being able to interact with teammates and bounce off one other in person. It’s likely that digital engagement now has a permanent place given the progress made over the past year, so it’s important not to take two steps back when moving forward into a hybrid world.
Taken from our learnings - and a few mistakes - made over the past year, here are my top tips to mastering the virtual pitch:
1. Energy and enthusiasm are key
Small gestures and facial expressions aren’t picked up as easily over Zoom – dodgy internet connections aside – so it needs to be overemphasised and overdone when you’re doing a virtual pitch so that it doesn’t get missed. Injecting the energy in large doses may feel unnatural or forced but drumming up enthusiasm is key to a successful pitch.
2. Don’t be afraid of dressing brighter to get noticed
It’s a simple thing, but wearing brighter colours naturally draws attention to you if you’re presenting and expresses creativity and individuality. So dig out those items of clothing that have been neglected during the lockdown in place of the drab comfy clothes, and dress like you’re going further than from your bed to your desk.
3. Act the stand-up comedian captivate your audience
Imagine that you’re a stand-up comedian, in a noisy bar, putting on your very best show to get people’s attention. It’s better to picture the virtual pitch this way, than seeing yourself as theatre-performer with a captive audience. You need to work hard to keep the attention of the people you are pitching to, as it can easily be lost, especially with all the distractions that come with the digital world. Be human – nobody wants to listen to a robot droning on through their headphones.
4. Be careful with using videos
Videos used to pack a punch when played on a big screen in a meeting room, bringing some life to a pitch. But since going digital, different bandwidth speeds and unreliable internet connection can ruin a video when you’re attempting to show it via screen-sharing. It also doesn’t have quite the same effect if it’s played on a little laptop with tiny speaker next to an ever-growing inbox. It’s worth thinking more carefully about how videos are used on a virtual pitch, and whether other mediums would be more effective instead.
5. Utilise digital to your advantage and keep that Teams side-bar alive
As long as it’s not distracting you from the pitch, you can utilise the chat bars of Teams or Slack or whichever channel you use to nudge your team along the way. This might mean nudging somebody to answering a certain question, reminding them of a specific point, or pointing out something that would be useful to know. Or, if it’s needed, a quick ‘time to move on’ might just save you from losing their attention at a critical point!
6. Keep the focus on the person presenting
It can be effective to turn off your video when other team members are presenting to help keep the focus on that person, otherwise our eyes naturally wander around the screen. But make sure that videos come back on during questions and discussion points, so they know that you’re there, you’re interested, and you’re engaged.
7. Good tech is key
After a year by and large behind our laptop screens, the older excuses of bad WIFI, video quality or microphones aren’t as passable. It’s even more important during a virtual pitch that this is considered, and it’s worth investing in equipment to ensure that the sound and video quality is up to scratch. Bar ‘you’re on mute’, there’s nothing worse than a presentation being interrupted mid-flow with the cries of ‘we can’t hear you!’