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How to present your startup at a virtual conference and online matchmaking

Switzerland Global Enterprise lud Petra Wolkenstein ein, um ihre Erfahrungen aus dem online Vertrieb und ihren online Trainings zu nutzen. Denn die von S-GE betreuten Schweizer Startups standen vor ihrer nächsten Herausforderung, der Teilnahme an einer online umgesetzten US-Switzerland Global Enterprise invited Petra Wolkenstein to use her experience from online sales and her online trainings. Because the Swiss startups supported by S-GE were about to face their next challenge, the participation in an online implemented US BioTech conference. Series meetings with potential sales partners in the US awaited the startups. “We had a very lively discussion on the topic of negotiating and presenting online, as well as making sure you correctly assess the potential collaboration partner. In addition, there is the complexity and challenge of serial meetings that follow each other in a very short time frame. Of course, we worked out how pitfalls can be avoided and the best can be taken away from the online conference.”

There are some key advantages of virtual matchmaking conferences:

  • You get access to a strong company directory.
  • You have the flexibility to schedule independently and use your own virtual conference room.
  • Slots are available 24 hours a day for maximum flexibility across time zones.
  • Participants receive a quota of up to 150 meeting requests.

Analysis of 6 challenges in virtual match making conferences.

#1 Tech muss nicht überwältigend sein

To prepare for online meetings, a few technical facilities are generally needed. Your appearance itself and the visual impression are very important. Therefore, the location of the light source and the correct angle of the camera is very important. Similarly, many people pay little attention to the sound quality. No matter how good the picture is, if the sound does not work, if the words are not understood, the meaning is lost.

Recommendations

  • Avoid a direct light source such as a window (not even blinds) directly behind you.
  • Light sources should be at your eye level to avoid deep shadows.

It is recommended to use 3 natural soft light sources: two behind your webcam (one left, one right) and one behind you.

Find the best setting!

  • Look people in the eye (bring the laptop to eye level or use a separate camera).
  • You can also use a laptop stand or place your laptop on a stack of books.
  • An extra mouse and keyboard help as well.

Have you ever heard of sound etiquette?

  • Use headphones instead of the built-in speakers. Many people start to get louder or even scream when using the built-in speakers.
  • Avoid problems with the feedback effect
  • Put yourself on mute when multiple people are on a call (“unmute” is the new “reply to all” and not appreciated)
  • Minimize echo in your room (rugs and pillows can help)

Make sure you can share … but not with everyone!

Online conversations sometimes involuntarily open the door to unwanted and unauthorized insights. It is advisable to be careful about what we share and with whom.

The main points that you can consider:

  • Password protection during web call
  • No recordings
  • Prepare screen sharing precisely and limit it to individual services only
  • Prepare link sharing (downloads, contact details, websites) to share in chat
  • Annotation are possible via whiteboard in many services or direct with a pointer
  • A teleprompter can help with the pitch
  • Less technology is often more

Save energy on your technical resources

Services on your laptop that compete with each other (two video conferencing tools) should be closed. Likewise, services that suck battery (e.g. TimeMachine backups), could interfere (Apple Facetime, Reminders) or that require a lot of bandwidth could be closed.

It is always a good idea to test the WLAN with e.g. Speedtest.net and, if possible, coordinate or avoid video calls from other people in your network at the same time.

#2 Exclude distractions

Due to the lack of office atmosphere, many factors can disrupt the meeting and quickly distract. How can you still be completely professional?

Have a look behind you! 

Your background, your surroundings can also distract the attention of the person you are talking to. It must be clean, professional, without personal or flashy details of a home or office. Also, avoid doors in the background so that someone doesn’t accidentally walk into the room. Try to keep your background as clear and monochromatic as possible: beautiful plants, books or a nice piece of art are welcome.

Virtual backgrounds of some services are also very popular, e.g. Zoom lets you add your logo and company colors to the background – something that conversation partners will remember.

#3 Place your main statement and defeat ZOOM fatigue

Many online meetings throughout the day are significantly more exhausting than physical meetings in a room because we miss visual impressions and start to compensate subconsciously. ZOOM fatigue is taking hold. To counter it and communicate successfully with your counterpart, it is important to summarize more often. Summarize your message over and over again with your images and keywords!

#4 Be remembered

How do you stand out from the crowd? A striking slogan, a well-chosen style, an eye-catching, creative image or a coherent brand color always help us to stay in the memory of the negotiating partner.

#5 Effectiveness of your online meetings

Apart from “cosmetics”, it is important to get out of your meetings what you wanted. And that should be clear to the other side right from the start. That starts with good meeting management.

Clear expectation management

Your profile in the matching app is immensely important here. It is the beginning of a good meeting and sets the expectations right. Don’t forget the following topics in your profile:

  • Your product & USP
  • Previous successes and satisfied, enthusiastic customers
  • Exact description of what you are looking for and expect
  • Accurate description of what you can offer a business partner

It is always good to agree on the agenda at the beginning of your meeting and summarize how much time you have, why you are interested, and what the end result should be.

A cheat sheet with your desired outcome is something to have with you before conducting your series meetings. It could cover the following things:

  • Criteria to be tested in various interviews with potential business partners, e.g. business model, track record
  • Your individual partnering score to evaluate who is the best fit

End of the meeting preparations – how to close the meeting.

Remember that an important part of the online conversation is the end of the meeting. Have all relevant links and contact information ready in a Word document that you can copy into the chat. Clarify and reiterate what the next steps are and on which communication channel they will continue to communicate.

#6 Interpersonal & Relationship Building

Since it’s harder to make a real personal connection online, we need to pay more attention to communication. What are the tips that can create a pleasant atmosphere?

  • Create a relaxed atmosphere with small talk.
  • When appropriate, tell a good story that fits the situation
  • Call the person you’re talking to by name: “So, Petra, …..”
  • Really look them in the eye – you won’t believe how little this is actually done.

Switzerland Global Enterprise has facilitated this workshop with in-depth topics for its startups so that they can best prepare for their new challenges in online partnering. We thank Philip Morger and S-GE for the invitation and wish all participants the perfect cooperation partners for their market entry in the USA.