Before March very few pitches were ever done by video conference.  After lockdown ALL of them were done this way.  It’s a big adaptation (and we’re still adapting) so we asked a mixture of different agencies to provide their learnings so far.

In general, agencies are finding virtual pitches work quite well.  They’re more relaxed than a big formal pitch in a meeting room (where it’s not unusual for an agency to see one of their competitors nervously waiting in the corridor).  And people are saying there is often good interplay between client and agency.

Ironically although you don’t physically encounter each other, there is the opportunity to ‘meet face-to-face’ more than once during the process, which enables you to get a good sense of the potential chemistry between the teams.  That could actually be more meaningful than the traditional pitch model, where the client and agency might only meet at the pitch presentation.

Indeed we’d encourage clients to have a series of video conference meetings throughout the process – for the briefing, for the Q&A etc.  Some agencies have run additional working sessions throughout the process to help build that chemistry.

One thing all agencies agree is that it’s essential everyone keeps their cameras on in any pitch meeting.  Otherwise the presenters have no idea whether the clients are really engaged (or checking their email.)  We heard one agency decided not to go ahead with a pitch after an initial briefing, because half the clients said they’d prefer to keep their cameras off.  (It didn’t bode well for a future partnership.)

The Top Ten Tips from agency feedback:-

  1. Get the tech and set-up right. Ethernet connections rather than Wi-Fi.  A neutral background without being back-lit.  Lift your computer so you’re not looking down at your audience and consider using a microphone and webcam, so you come across loud and clear
  2. Introductions take longer via video conference so try and build in extra time for this or, better still, exchange pre-reads in advance of the attendees’ bios.
  3. A clear structure and slick handovers are even more important than in a physical pitch. Rehearse the theatre thoroughly.  And in interim calls open with what you plan to achieve on the call and what steps will ideally follow.
  4. Videos often buffer so send out links during the presentation.
  5. Aim for a shorter presentation than in a physical pitch. (Bear in mind that your audience are spending all day on video calls.)
  6. Try and cut down the number of slides and stop sharing at key moments so you can see you audience and they can see you.
  7. Don’t be afraid to stop and check everyone is following and ask for feedback.
  8. If you’re able to run working sessions as part of the pitch use break-out rooms, white boards and polls to make it as interactive as possible.
  9. Agree in advance how you’re going to handle questions. One option is to ask the clients to send them through via ‘chat’ and then answer them all at the end.
  10. Keep the team small and make sure everyone has a role.


Hopefully if you’re about to run a pitch you’ll find this helpful.  If you’ve got other suggestions, based on your experience, please make a comment below.

Also please see our previous article about the benefits of engaging with the agency enough throughout the process “The art of Gemba


Written by Paul Phillips, Consultant and Trainer & Michael Orriss, Pharmaceutical Marketing Consultant