Persuading Investors: A Video-Based Study
109 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2020 Last revised: 13 Jul 2021
Date Written: July 12, 2021
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.
Keywords: Behavioral Economics, Persuasion, Video Data, Machine Learning
JEL Classification: D91, G41, C55, G24
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