How Your Body Language Can Make Or Break Your Funding Pitch by Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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Body language may be the last thing on your mind as you put the final touches to your investment pitch, but it will have an impact on your audience and potentially, on whether or not you land a deal.

Encompassing everything from facial expressions and eye contact to posture and hand gestures, body language can give away more about you than you realise. More importantly, the human brain develops assumptions about a situation by reading other people’s body language. You might have crafted a killer presentation, but it’s the story that your body language is telling that investors will also be watching.

“Startups need to clearly demonstrate the personality and honesty behind a business idea and their passion and authentic approach in order get investors to part with their money,” says Susan Marot, corporate sales trainer and consultant at Succeed At Selling.

When Sami Benchekroun, cofounder and CEO of early-stage research platform Morressier, is meeting investors he always tries to sit at the head of the table. “It enables me to maintain a position of power throughout the negotiation, while good eye contact is a great way to convey confidence and trustworthiness.”

When making an important, positive statement that you want people to remember his advice is to lean towards your audience and make your arms wide as this will convey your excitement and capture the audience’s attention. During public speaking he finds cracking jokes and laughing along with the audience helps to ease anxiety and ingratiate himself with the audience. “It also makes your speech more memorable,” he says.

Just as body language can be used to positively support the message you want to convey it can also reveal any flaws in the purpose behind a pitch or proposal. The body leaks information, to the extent that what we say will be undermined if our body and voice do not match our purpose.

Louisa Clarke, pitch doctor at The Caffeine Partnership, says: “If my purpose is to convince you that we are the right people to help you, and I say, ‘we have the solution to your problem’, but avoid eye contact, fidget and sound unconvinced because my tone of voice is uncertain, then the impact of that message will be lost.”

A mismatch between body language and what a person is saying doesn’t necessarily mean they are being disingenuous. It can simply be due to nerves ahead of a crucial pitch, when the body leaks that information that distracts from what they are trying to say. “The key is to rehearse and practice until your body language and voice are congruent with your content,” says Clarke.

Other areas to focus on during pitching are behavioral styles. Destructive personality clashes, for example, can get in the way of winning pitches, but are easy to avoid. “Being aware of other people’s behavioral styles allows you to adapt your own to people who are different from you, so that you get on with them better,” says Clarke. “They will then be more receptive to your presentation.”

Jill McKinney, head of skills and training at Sunderland Software City, delivers pitch training to clients that include international pitching competitions such as the Duke of York’s Pitch@Palace and Tech Nation’s Rising Stars.

She says: “Body language has a huge impact on an audience. Distracting mannerisms can lose the audience’s attention, while negative, closed off actions can make viewers feel uncomfortable watching. We try to get people to mimic confident body language, even if they don’t feel it. They should address the room using eye contact and deliberate physical movements.”

Other factors that can impact your body language include trying to fit too many words into a short timeframe, or talking about something that’s not your area of expertise, which can make you look and feel uncomfortable. You may need to ask yourself if you are the right person to be delivering this particular pitch.

“It can be helpful to actively seek out feedback, through observations or from peers,” adds McKinney. “We see time and again that feedback and practice can help even the most accomplished presenters improve their body language.”

Body language tips for the big investment pitch

Keep eye contact warm and direct. “You are effectively asking them to marry you, not just have a one night stand,” says Peter Ibbetson, cofounder of PR platform JournoLink.

Keep hands soft. “Instead of hiding them or clenching into fists, lightly touching your thumb to middle or index finger subtly conveys openness externally, whilst giving the speaker a bit of touch comfort,” says Tom Britton, cofounder of equity investment platform Syndicate Room.

Remove any barriers. No lectern, no crossed arms, and no fastened jackets; everything must appear open and welcoming.

Adapt to the audience. Speed of delivery and tone should be the same as the questioning. “Both will create a conversation rather than an interview,” says Ibbetson.

March 7, 2019 at 08:08AM
https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisoncoleman/2019/03/07/how-your-body-language-can-make-or-break-your-funding-pitch/
Forbes – Entrepreneurs
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