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Body language tips for pitching to investors

By CAROL GOMAN | November 8th 2013
When you see signs of engagement, it is a signal that you are on the right track


Like the MIT entrepreneurs, your success at pitching to investors is also strongly influenced by unconscious factors such as the way your body postures match the other person.

If you are an entrepreneur preparing for an investor pitch — or just a fan of “Shark Tank” — you’ll find this post interesting. Here are body language tips for pitching to investors:

Let the audience see your passion.

Venture capitalists are analytic types, and the last thing you think would attract them is passion. Think again. Pitching is emotional. As Bill Reichert, Managing Dirctor of Garage Technology Ventures says: “VC decisions are not a logical process. Investors decide first in their hearts and their guts. Only then do they validate those decisions analytically. You’ve got to get them to ‘wow!’ Your job is to excite, not to educate.”

Body language is the prime communication channel of emotion. Which is not to say that a display of unbridled emoting is the answer. But neither is a stoic recitation of facts and figures. What works best is to allow your natural enthusiasm for your company to come across in your vocal tone and emphasis, your physical energy, and your animated expressions.

Look confident and warm

From a body language perspective, the most effective “pitchers” send two sets of nonverbal signals. One set of signals conveys status, authority, and confidence. You send these signals by standing tall, holding your shoulders back, keeping your head straight, speaking clearly and in a lower vocal range. The other set of nonverbal signals conveys warmth, empathy, and likeability. These signals include open palm gestures, leaning slightly forward, giving people eye contact when they talk, smiling, and mirroring their posture/gestures.

Make sure that your verbal and non-verbal messages are aligned

When your body language doesn’t match your words, your verbal message is lost. Neuroscientists at Colgate University study the effects of gestures by using an electroencephalograph (EEG) machines to measure “event related potentials” – brain waves that form peaks and valleys.

One of these valleys, dubbed N400, occurs when subjects are shown gestures that contradict what’s spoken. This is the same brain wave dip that occurs when people listen to nonsensical language. So, in a very real way, when your words say one thing and your gestures indicate another, you don’t make sense. And if forced to choose between your rhetoric and your body language, people will believe what they see and not what you say.

Perfect your handshake

Touch is the most primitive and powerful nonverbal cue. We are programmed to feel closer to someone who’s touched us. The person who touches also feels more connected. It’s a compelling force and even momentary touching can create a human bond.

A study on handshakes (by the Income Center for Trade Shows) showed that people are two times more likely to remember you if you shake hands with them. The researchers also found that people react to those with whom they shake hands by being more open and friendly. When meeting possible investors, make sure to shake everyone’s hand.


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