Pitch Day Tips
The tips presented on this page are geared to virtual pitch days, but many are also helpful for in-person pitch day events.
Before Your Pitch
Don’t put off the Government point of contact if they are waiting to hear from you about your presentation time or other details
If you’re not responsive and they’re still waiting on a yes or no after a week or more of waiting, they may eliminate you from the agenda altogether. The general rule of thumb is that if you’re not responsive for a simple question, you may not be the right industry partner.
If your presentation contains classified information...
Let the Government host know before you send it to them or present it virtually so that other arrangements can be made with you.
If you are concerned about a virtual audience listening to your proprietary information...
Discuss with the Government so that you know if non-Government listeners are present (or plan to listen to a recording) and can decide if you need an NDA. You may not be told the names of Government personnel who are evaluating your presentation as that information may be considered “source selection sensitive”—so that you don’t contact evaluators to try to influence them unduly. You can ask, however, if the names and contact info for the audience are releasable.
Don’t get too fancy with embedded video or “slide-builds”
The bigger the file you send, the more problematic for the host. If you are sending a 800MB file, it’s more likely that it will freeze when the host drives it on a Government computer, and that may mean that your video or chart isn’t shown to evaluators because it takes too much time to fix and your presentation time is limited.
When you send your presentation charts to the Government...
Check one last time to make sure the charts are in order and that any video/sound/links are the right ones.
Test the platform (MS Teams, Zoom, WebEx, etc.) ahead of time, then test again
You’ll want to make sure you’ve properly registered, haven’t forgotten your password, have decided between using the browser or the app, installed the app if necessary, and worked through any technical issues. Know ahead of time where the UNMUTE button is so you’re not talking to an un-hearing audience and wasting precious presentation time. Test on the day of your pitch because some platforms are updating their features and security frequently: what worked yesterday may have changed slightly.
Keep your audience in mind when dressing for any on-camera appearances
A t-shirt and cap may be appropriate from some audiences but not for others. Virtual pitch days tend to be more casual, but you want to make a good impression on a potential Government sponsor.
Practice your pitch
Practice enough that you aren’t obviously reading a prepared statement and that you can fit your pitch into the allotted time frame.
If possible, have someone watch your pets, children, etc. during your presentation so you don’t lose your focus or have your presentation audio drowned out
Dogs bark. Children find your work intensely attractive when your presentation is live. Ask your children to use a bathroom in another part of your home or at least close the door so they won’t…be so loud.
Immediately Before Your Pitch
Arrive early for your presentation
Some hosts will have a waiting room where you can make sure the platform works for you. Sometimes the previous presentation will end early and the Government will want you to start early. Other times you may need to work out a last-minute glitch. Don’t be late – virtual pitch days are usually on a schedule and you might miss your time or not be able to deliver your full presentation.
Test the platform (MS Teams, Zoom, WebEx, etc.) again on the day of your pitch
Some platforms are updating their features and security frequently: what worked yesterday may have changed slightly.
If you are using ambient sound in your presentation...
Some platforms will filter it out. This potential problem can be fixed in the settings by the host, but may be problematic.
If you have an Amazon Echo or similar device, mute it or turn it off before you start your presentation
Not only can the device be distracting when an alarm goes off, but it can be embarrassing when you have to screech “Alexa! Stop!” when it tells you your package of candy bars just arrived.
Turn off computer notifications during your presentation
Even if you mute them, if you’re sharing your screen, your audience doesn’t need to know it’s time for Rover’s shots or your colleague wants to know when you can “do lunch.”
If you aren’t using your phone for your audio, make sure it’s on mute during your presentation
The wrong musical ringtone can give your audience an impression of you that you don’t necessary want them to have.
Check the location of your camera if you will be visible to your audience
The camera shouldn’t be aimed up your nose, below your chin, or at your fingers on the keyboard.
Have a glass of water within reach
This is in case your throat gets dry during your presentation.
During Your Pitch
Your presentation may or may not be recorded. Ask the Government host.
Usually this is for their convenience in case a key person or evaluator can’t be present for the live presentation.
If you have existing contracts with the Government...
Let the audience know in your pitch because they may be able to add your proposed work to an existing agreement. For example, if you have a current SBIR Phase II with one buying office, another buying office represented in the audience may send funding to the SBIR II office as a quick way to get you on contract. If you have SBIR Data Rights from two SBIR’s you completed last year that are related to the work you are pitching, tell your audience as they may be able to award a SBIR Phase III based on those rights. If you have an IDIQ for related work with another Agency, let your audience know because, again, that might be a much quicker way to get you on contract and paid.
If you reference other Government programs, program offices, or initiatives in your presentation...
Make sure that they still exist or still have the same name or goals as when you first decided to include them in your pitch.
Be aware of your background if you are on camera during your presentation
Some of the more popular platforms have backgrounds that hide the clutter behind you or any other distractions. If you have a spouse or live-in elderly uncle who wanders through your home office in pajamas or boxers only, you may want to hide them, too.
Be mindful of audio feedback
If you use your computer for video and call in from your phone for audio, mute your computer microphone before you dial in so you don’t echo.
If you are sharing your screen...
Although not common as usually the Government host will “drive” your charts— close or hide other applications on your screen. Not only might multiple applications slow down your computer or cause your connection to freeze, but you may have forgotten that you used your computer last night to order cream for that rash or to pen a review of a local carwash. You’ll want to show your presentation without showing anything else.
If the host or the Government is “driving” your chart presentation...
You will need to tell them when to advance the slide show: “next slide, please” usually works fine.
Stick to the presentation format the Government gives you
For example, if you have 20 minutes to pitch your technical approach with 10 minutes following for Q&A, don’t give a 5-minute overview and wait for questions with the expectation that the audience will fill in the time and guide your discussion. You could end up with a 5-minute pitch and no questions instead of 30 minutes to pitch and answer questions.
If, as you’re delivering your presentation, you mess up...
If you mess up (forget what you’re saying, realize your charts are out of order, Alexa starts beeping), then pick yourself up and keep going unless told otherwise. Don’t risk your presentation time over a distraction. The primary goal is to get all your pertinent content in front of a potential Government sponsor and hopefully have time to answer any on-the-spot questions.
Take your full presentation time without going over
This is your stage, so use it to its fullest.
If you have several presenters...
Make sure you don’t talk over each other or fight with one another during the pitch. Present a united front.
If there are no questions during the Q&A period or not enough to fill that time...
Consider asking if you can “drill down” into a particular area or elaborate on a question already asked, but only if you can truly add to what you’ve already said and still stay within the allowed time.
Don’t make nervous one-sided conversation with an evaluator or attendee whose name you recognize in the participants’ list
Not all other attendees will know your relationship or inside jokes. The person you’re joking with could also be someone another evaluator doesn’t like or you might give an impression of trying to sway the evaluation.
The platform participants may show more people than are actually participating
Some will be logged on via laptop and phone for both visual and better audio. Some will be listening while multi-tasking or making lunch in the next room.