Hey, startup founder! I hear you’ve got a great idea and you’re looking for funding. Before you get too excited and submit that poorly-lit, out-of-focus talking head video with your application, take a minute to read this article. It could mean the difference between moving on to the next round and landing in a sea of forgotten applications.
Step One: Step back.
Start by taking a step out of your own metaphorical shoes for a moment (you can keep your real shoes on) and picture your application among thousands of other applications. Does it look like all the others? If you were an investor (and completely unattached to your own company), would you pick your application out of a crowd or would it blend in like beige on beige (boring!)?
I understand it’s really easy to get caught up in your company. Personally, I care about my business like some of my friends care about their babies. I’m always dying to brag about it on Instagram and show off my latest projects. When you’re so close to your company, you can easily lose something called perspective. But if you want to get funding, you need to understand the person who will supply you with that funding.
I encourage you to slip into an investor’s shoes. What can you show this investor that will entice her/him to watch your video and feel compelled to dig deeper? What is your key differentiator? That’s where your story comes in.
Step Two: Tell a story
Sure, you’ve got a great idea, but a great idea isn’t always enough to catch the attention of investors. Even the savviest investor out there isn’t emotionally moved by numbers and stats and industry jargon. Remember that this investor is a human being just like everybody else. And human beings relate through emotion. You have ONE CHANCE to tell this human why you’re worth every penny, and you’ll make a bigger impact with a story than you will trying to push the research you’ve done on market size. Build an emotional connection first and THEN you can show off how many bazillions of dollars your idea will make.
Do that by telling a story.
Here are some ideas to inspire your story:
- Why did you start your company?
- What problem do you solve?
- How many lives have you changed?
- How do you change lives?
- What is your mission and why?
- What challenges have you overcome to get where you are?
- Fill in the blank: I’m the kind of founder who ___
Step Three: Ditch the script
Scripts are for actors. Unless you’re a trained actor, scripted videos are painful to watch. All I see when I’m watching a rigidly scripted talking head video is the person TRYING to remember what they’re supposed to say. That’s the opposite of how you want to come off. When you speak to the camera, you have to be really present with the person on the other side of the screen (in this case: the person you’re pitching to). The last place you want to be is in your own head. Memorization will get you in your own head.
Instead of a script, put together an outline of your key talking points.
Step Four: Shoot it right.
Thanks to smartphones, shooting video doesn’t require a ton of equipment anymore. And with a few tricks of the trade in your back pocket, you can use your phone (or any camera for that matter) to make a great pitch video.
- Keep the light in front of you. Cameras love light. They focus on the part of the screen with the most light. If light is on your face, that’s where the camera will focus. Many people love to use windows as a background, and to that I say: DON’T DO IT! If you do, your background will outshine you...literally.
- Got shadows? Step away from your background. The closer you are to the background, the harsher your shadow will be. Often a simple step forward will eliminate shadows on your background and make your video look 10x more professional. So simple, right?
- Rig a tripod. Set your camera on a tripod to keep the frame steady. You can easily make one yourself (check out my DIY tripod video) or find one on Amazon.
- Stay close to the camera...but not too close. Being close to the camera’s built-in microphone will allow it to capture your message clearly. If you are too far away, other external noise could creep in there. Another option is to purchase an external microphone (highly recommended if you plan on doing more video content).
Do you see how just a few basic tweaks can completely elevate the quality of your pitch video? It’s a game changer!
Now that you’re inspired and primed to shoot your pitch video, I’ll leave you with one last thought: this video is the biggest opportunity you have a make an impact. For just a few seconds, you have something that could change the course of your business: you have an investor's attention. Don’t fill this valuable time with anything but your best! This is your chance to BRING IT.
Paige Wilhide is the founder and CEO of Paige Media, a video content agency committed to helping entrepreneurs make more + better video content. Before you shoot your pitch video, make sure you’re prepared. Download this free video prep checklist to keep you on track and ahead of the competition.