Pitching with too much passion? ‘More upbeat’ pitches turn investors off, study finds

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Image: Lin Jiang, USF
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credit: USF

Tampa, Fla. (June 28, 2022) – A new study offers some sensible sales advice to entrepreneurs: When pitching investors for funding, a high-octane product pitch with high enthusiasm can be a double-edged sword.

Study reveals downside of over-the-top product pitches. Namely, demonstrating a high level of enthusiasm through energetic body movements and animated facial expressions may lead investors to suspect that entrepreneurs have an ulterior motive – that they use large hand gestures and various vocal tones to make an impression. as a management strategy.

“For entrepreneurs to raise funds, more enthusiasm is not necessarily better,” said the lead author. lin jiangAssistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at USF Muma College of Business.

Jiang and three other researchers co-authored “The more enthusiastic, the better? From the displayed enthusiasm of entrepreneurs to the unveiling of a negative path for funding intentions of funders,” Published online last month in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice.

Entrepreneurs often present their business ideas to investors to attract crowdfunding. Jiang and his co-authors sought to answer whether showing great enthusiasm during a funding pitch always helps an entrepreneur obtain funding for a new venture.

The study showed that showing enthusiasm can make investors feel positive and view entrepreneurs favorably, but there is also a downside. An entrepreneur’s spirited spirit can backfire, causing investors to question the underlying motives of the entrepreneur.

In addition, an investor’s negative reaction to an enthusiastic product pitch increases if the entrepreneur is viewed as less competent, the study found.

The researchers came to their conclusion through a survey sample of 1,811 participants who evaluated 182 crowdfunding projects and conducted a randomized experiment among 273 participants.

In the experiment, researchers hired an actor to present the same product pitch in two different ways — one with high enthusiasm and one without. The spectators were asked which pitch they would fund more.

“Our findings suggest that it may not always be effective for entrepreneurs to demonstrate enthusiasm to raise funds, especially for those who lack the expertise needed to venture out,” Jiang said. “There are both positive and negative ways to demonstrate your enthusiasm through energetic body gestures, varied vocal pitches, or animated facial expressions.”

Study co-authors include USF Muma College of Business associate professors deezhi yin, dong liu at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Richard Johnson at the University of Missouri.

About the University of South Florida

The University of South Florida, a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success, generates an annual economic impact of more than $6 billion. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster than USF in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF has been designated as a premier state research university by the Florida Board of Governors, making it the most distinguished of the state’s 12 public universities. ranks in the category. USF has earned widespread national recognition for its success in graduating underrepresented minority and limited-income students at rates equal to or higher than white and high-income students. The USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. www.usf.edu . Learn more on


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