We live in a time of short attention spans, busy schedules, lots of emails. People increasingly work on multiple projects at once, however this doesn’t mean they’re not open and curious about new opportunities. The search for the next project, the next development is continuous. In order to be considered for the next project, its essential to stand out concisely, to be succinct.
And so, video. It’s key. The two components of a strong video pitch are: 1. Fluid and informative presentation of the solution you’re offering, and 2. Quality of the medium – video and audio.
Here are some tips that can help you deliver the best one-minute video pitch.
Make it Evergreen. For an in-person, one on one pitch with any potential investor, partner, mentor, you’d want to do due diligence, research their background, struggles, and interests and cater the presentation to that. However, for a brief video pitch, you want to make one that can be relatable and dispersed to many different possible stakeholders.
To do this, try to be as broad as possible when talking about the problems you can solve, in other words stay away from proper nouns of companies and, if possible, certain platforms, because those can change and make your video out of date. Also, try to avoid date references in any speech.
Create intimacy with your audience. Try to imagine that you are having a conversation with a person you know really well who is sitting on a sofa with a cup of tea. Forget about the camera, bring out a very relaxed tone of voice and be really engaging.
Structure your pitch as a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Take your audience on a journey, being explicit about what is the problem you want to solve, and how you intend to do so. Keep it simple and be compelling.
Use metrics. Incorporate 1-3 compelling research metrics about your solution, ideally as it results to the specific problem. It is important not to overdo it with the numbers, however, or create too lengthy of a set for the parameters. Keep it concise.
Show as much as you can. Depending on your means, you may be limited to just one or two people in front of a camera, which is better than nothing. However, the medium of video allows you enhance your pitch with visuals. If you have any data visualization graphics – show them while you speak. If you can background, or B-roll footage that helps bring your story to life, show that.
For example, say you’re your solution is an education software for public schools. Show students working on a computer.
Start strong and help people to remember you. Deliver your pitch opening with a line that engages your audience and tell your story in short sharp sentences. Enjoy saying each word, take a little bit more time than you normally would to pronounce them. You want to speak one or two beats slower than you normally would so there’s time for retention.
Don’t forget to end well! You definitely want your audience to be interested in learning more. Ask yourself what is the lasting impression you want to leave the audience with.
Ready to go on camera?
Have good audio. Sound quality is the most important part of your video, so prioritize it over everything else. Having an external sound recording device, or at least a microphone other than the one on your camera (e.g. a lavalier microphone plugged into the camera) will greatly improve the quality of your audio.
Choose your room carefully. Generally speaking, the smaller the room and the lower the ceiling, the better it is for recording due to reduced echo. Choose a quiet space (but one that’s still well lit!) and aim for a plain background, or at least a non-distracting one — especially if you’re making the video by yourself.
Look for the light. You want your shot to be well lit and you want the person pitching to be the brightest part of the shot. The key is having the light source facing him/her, and one of the best and cheapest ways to achieve this is to sit in front of a large window.
Find a friend! Having someone else with you can be very helpful. He or she can tell you if something sounds good (or if you should repeat it), or if you are emphasizing a certain word incorrectly. Find someone to watch you, and if they can look at the camera at the same time, even better.
Take a moment to exercise. Loosen up. Do some jumping jacks, a little dance, whatever you need. Being on camera is intimidating, but the more relaxed and loose you are the better you’ll look. Don’t be afraid to mess up and do it many many times.
Here are some practical exercises that you can do to warm up your face and make your eyes look alive:
- Warm up the tongue — clean your teeth with your tongue eight times clockwise.
- Say “Prunes”, squash up your face and say “Bananas” as loud as you can, wide opening your face.
The camera picks up everything. You want to be as natural as possible but don’t forget about your physical appearance. Make sure to take good care of your hair, teeth, and make-up. If you have more oily skin, wipe your “T” zone with a tissue first to take of any unwanted shine.
Apply the rule of thirds. As the person pitching, you want to be looking at the camera lens the entire time, and rather than being off at the corner, you want your body to be taking up most of the middle of the screen. Ideally, your eyes should be placed about one third of the way down from the top of the screen. Also, you may prefer a fairly close framing from the chest to just above the head, rather than trying to include too much of the body.
Capture the viewer’s attention: start with some music. A great way to start is by presenting your logo (or website, etc.), ideally with some light accompanying music or a jingle.
Think about watching a video that starts cold and very quiet at the beginning vs. one with a warm, friendly, musical intro. The latter feels more comfortable and will pique the viewer’s interest before you start. Once you get into the video itself, add your title your name and position within your company somewhere on the screen with either black or white text to make it visible.
Here are some resources for royalty free music:
Know your cuts: It’s tough delivering a flawless minute-long speech. Don’t beat yourself up by attempting to do it all in one take. Break down your talking points to where you can incorporate cuts and visuals into the video. When you know this, you only need to memorize and deliver one two lines at a time, and can even read lines when there is other footage being shown.
Be animated: If you’re standing, use more gestures and body language than you might normally. This brings an energy to your words and makes both you and viewer more at ease. If you’re sitting you can be more composed.
Make use of free and easy-to-use video editing software. iMovie on Macs or Windows Movie Maker on PCs are both free and perfect for making a simple one-minute video pitch. You can easily edit your clips, insert titles, and add music or other audio tracks.
If using a laptop: While, it’s better to use a DSLR camera that can shoot HD, or even an iPhone, a laptop is still possible in a pinch, but only if done right.
First, make your laptop eyelevel by stacking some books and resting the laptop on top of them. That will take away that awkward downward looking angle.
Second, give yourself good face light by sitting facing a window. Stay away from sitting under ceiling lights that give bad shadows, and don’t sit with your back towards a window because this will create a silhouette effect.
Third, look into the laptop camera and never at the screen. It’s very tempting to look at yourself on the screen to monitor your performance, but that makes you eyes focus below the camera which creates a less ideal viewing experience.
For more tips on looking good with a laptop, check out this post by Wistia.
If using an iPhone: Try to mount it to a tripod that is eyelevel with you. Or place on top of something securely that is eyelevel. Use tape or other on-hand material if necessary. This is better than someone else holding it because their hands could shake, and any camera movement is bad.
Make sure the phone is horizontal for widescreen capture. More helpful tips on iPhone shooting can be found here.
Audio hot tip: You can purchase a simple wired lav mic that plugs into your phone for $10-$15. This will significantly improve your audio.
Let’s look some examples
First, we’ll look at the winner of the 2014 TedX one-minute pitch. These is an on-stage pitch so, not exactly for video.
The strengths here are confidence in the storytelling, the fluidity, and the use of key research to hinge the argument. The ending is particularly intriguing because you want to know a lot more. That’s how a follow-up gets scheduled.
Now, we’ll look at a past MassChallenge video pitch. This one is over a minute, coming in around 3 minutes, but there are very strong features to take note of.
The room selection and setting contextually appropriate and not distracting. The lighting is even and the presenter chose to sit, but in an open posture at the side of the desk not behind it.
The audio recording could be stronger, but the use of light background music gives it a professionalism and momentum. Perhaps most importantly, the use of b-roll footage and editing allows the speaker to have on-camera breaks and gives previews more information faster about what the solution. The video would not be nearly as strong if it were just the person talking and no additional visuals.