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Persuading Investors: A Video-Based Study

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Document pages: 94 pages

Abstract: Persuasive communication functions not only through content but also delivery, e.g., facial expression, tone of voice, and diction. This paper examines the persuasiveness of delivery in start-up pitches. Using machine learning (ML) algorithms to process full pitch videos, we quantify persuasion in visual, vocal, and verbal dimensions. Positive (i.e., passionate, warm) pitches increase funding probability. Yet conditional on funding, high-positivity startups underperform. Women are more heavily judged on delivery when evaluating single-gender teams, but they are neglected when co-pitching with men in mixed-gender teams. Using an experiment, we show persuasion delivery works mainly through leading investors to form inaccurate beliefs.

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