UCL School of Management

20 April 2021

Why first impressions and visual cues count during entrepreneurial pitches

Woman delivering a pitch at University College London

We all know how important it is to give a good first impression, but how much can this influence investors decisions during entrepreneurial pitches? Writing for Angel News, Dr Chia Jung-Tsay explains why dynamic visual cues - facial expressions, body language and gestures - are such an important aspect when delivering an entrepreneurial pitch to secure funding.  

While entrepreneurs believe that investors decisions are based on the substance-orientated criteria of their company, Chia’s research shows that investor decision making is significantly influenced through visual information. She suggests that entrepreneurs, therefore, need to create a strong first impression and focus on effectively presenting their ideas and build a connection with investors.

In her research involving 1,855 participants across 12 different studies, Chia analysed investor decision-making behaviours during live pitches and the impact of visual cues, through the use of silent videos, video-with-sound recordings, and pitch transcriptions to extrapolate the process used by investors in selecting winning entrepreneurial pitches.

The study showed that investors rapidly responded to visual cues to determine their interest in the pitch, with some picking up on signals and making decisions within as little as six seconds. Chia explains that while investors may think their decisions are attributed to fact-based information, they are in fact highly influenced by the charisma and presentation skills of entrepreneurs before anything else.

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Last updated Thursday, 29 April 2021