HomeBlogHow to Prepare for Your First Zoom Pitch

How to Prepare for Your First Zoom Pitch

Kaie Ames 31 August 2021

Preparing for a Zoom call with coffee

Pitching our work to producers, executives and directors using the likes of Zoom has become the new norm, and it may continue this way for a long time. So how do you make sure your Zoom pitch doesn’t let you down?

A screenwriter’s job doesn’t end after the final draft’s finished. To succeed in this industry, you need to have just as much of a business mind as a creative one.

Being able to pitch well can be the key to making sure all of your months, and possibly years, of hard work pay off.

In this blog, we’ll look at your set-up – get you thinking about how to look and feel professional when you’re sitting in front of a screen.

Traditionally you would pitch in an office setting in front of executives, which allows for social interaction, but that’s not the case for the foreseeable future and, to be frank, this is neither a good or a bad thing as you now have the opportunity to communicate and sell your ideas with people all around the globe.

Let’s focus on how to pull off a Zoom pitch.

Here are a few tips for staying at the top of your game when pitching online:

1. Set-up

Look behind you. Try to find an area with wall space that looks simple and professional.

Hang a painting up behind you or have a few interesting items on a shelf. A plant helps, so do fresh flowers. It shows you’ve thought about it. But make sure it’s not distracting. And you may need to discard the variety of water bottles, cups and plates that have no doubt been cluttering your workspace! You should probably take your clothes off the floor as well, while you’re at it.

If you don’t have a usable background in your workplace, or you want to maintain your privacy, you can always invest in a backdrop. But don’t use a Zoom backdrop unless you absolutely have nothing else, as this tends to blur your image.

Instead, consider a photography backdrop. To use a photography backdrop, you need to buy a photography backdrop stand, which costs about $30 and a photography backdrop which costs from $15. And with a photography backdrop, you don’t need to tidy up! Just set up the stand behind you, add the backdrop and away you go! Backdrops come in all colours and textures, so you’ll find one that suits your personality.

When you’re aligning your chair with your device, always make sure you are in the centre of the frame. It looks more aesthetically pleasing. Put your laptop or device higher up than usual, so you’re looking straight on.

It’s off-putting if you’re at a side angle, or if your audience can only see the top of your head.

And if you need notes to read from, either place them directly above the camera or above the top left side of your screen. Why the top left? Because when we think, we look to our left and above the eyeline. It looks natural when we glance off to the left.

2. No Distractions

When pitching from home there may be many distractions –

  • pets
  • children
  • deliveries
  • your phone

Turn the phone off. Leave it in another room. Put a sign on your door saying you’re in an important meeting. Get someone else to sign for your package. When you’re pitching, you need to focus on just that – the pitch. Nothing else matters.

3. Lighting

Experiment with a few lighting options before joining the call to see which looks best. The majority of built-in computer cameras have very poor low-light quality, so a well-lit room will increase the clarity of your expressions. Your beautiful face deserves to be seen!

Don’t have bright lights behind you, effectively making yourself a silhouette. Having too bright a screen in front of you on the other hand, will wash-out your face. Using a lamp with a moveable arm gives you great flexibility to suit most light issues.

4. Appearance

It takes three seconds to make a first impression when we meet someone in person. This applies to Zoom calls as well. People do judge each other on appearance, so it’s important you make a good first impression.

The good thing about pitching online is that people can generally only see what you wear from the waist up, so wear a smart shirt or fancy top. This doesn’t mean that you should sit in your underwear, though! Probably one of the most entertaining moments to come out of this pandemic has been seeing people walk away from their computers with the camera still on…

If you wear glasses, make sure you have anti-glare lenses. People want to see your eyes! Wear your contact lenses if your glasses show too much reflection.

If you wear make-up, keep it light. Don’t overdo the colour. Neutrals are better over Zoom.

5. Mic Check

There is nothing worse on a Zoom call than someone with a bad mic. Whether you’re unable to be heard properly, or if there’s an echo, it can be a painful experience for everyone involved. And, more importantly, it could be the reason why you lose the gig. If you’ll be going on calls regularly, you may want to invest in a new pair of headphones with a good mic You could also use your phone microphone if your computer mic isn’t working.

6. Eye-line

You should keep the camera as level to your eye-line as possible to avoid looking up or down at your screen. We don’t want to see the top of your head, or under your chin. Use a stack of books under your device to get the height you need.

Practise your pitch by looking into your laptop camera. Ask a friend to help you so you understand what people can see.

Getting your eyeline right makes those on the call feel closer to you, which is essential when you want to build relationships to sell your work. Practise keeping a consistent viewpoint towards the camera – but don’t stare into the camera without blinking. When we talk naturally, we do look away from the person we’re talking to every few seconds – try and do this when you pitch.

7. Mental Preparation

When pitching, some people just try to wing it. They make it up as they go along. That might work for a few people but pitching well, and professionally, is as much about preparation as the pitch itself. You need to know what you’re going to say – remember, you’re the most knowledgeable person in that room. Why? Because you know more about your story than anyone else.

Try your best to not just read your pitch straight from your notes. This will appear monotonous. You’ll lose the listeners’ interest and won’t engage or excite them in a natural conversation. Also if you lose your place in the notes, it looks really bad.

And finally, to succeed, you need to be able to connect with people – to make an emotional connection that makes them want to hear more about your work. Or bring your name up in conversation when they’re looking for people to join a writer’s room.

Pitching is stressful, in any format, but at least pitching from home, you have the advantage of taking that extra time to calm yourself, drink some water or just dance it out beforehand!

Most of all, try to enjoy the experience. Remember, you are sharing a story which you are truly passionate about, a story you believe in and something you’ve worked on for months. Take the time to perfect your pitch.

Make sure:

  • your technology is working.
  • your background is not going to detract from your pitch.
  • you know how to use your device’s camera and mic.

Remember to smile and you will wow them with your pitching expertise.

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Kaie Ames

Kaie Ames

Kaie Ames is a sixteen-year-old singer/songwriter, blogger, screenwriter and gamer. Kaie is studying Music Performance, Performing Arts and English Literature at Farnborough Sixth Form College in Hampshire, England. He’s applying to study song-writing and music performance at university in London starting in Fall 2022. If you would like to work with Kaie please contact him through his website: Kaie.co.uk

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