The modern workplace, team-oriented for many years, has turned virtual. More people telecommute, many teams are global, and travel costs limit face-to-face meetings. With increasing frequency, we deliver presentations by telephone or Internet. Here are some tips for making your virtual presentations more effective.
- Limit interruptions
- Mute all audible signals in your environment: telephone, mobile devices, computer, pet macaw and teapot. If at home, disable the doorbell. If in a hotel or at work, use a do-not-disturb sign. Close your office door or find a room with a door to close.
- Use high-quality equipment
- If you're connected by telephone, have the highest quality available — avoid speakerphones or mobile phones. Use a headset to keep your hands free. If using the Internet, high-speed connections are best. If using video, check the lighting and have a good quality camera.
- Use video and graphics only if needed
- Use simultaneous Web and video channels in parallel with audio only if the presentation truly requires them. Using video or graphical channels exposes the presentation to technology risk, and that risk should be justified by a need.
- Prepare for technical contingencies
- Have backup channels in case your intended communication channel fails. Prepare to make do without video or Webcasting if necessary by prepositioning materials for the audience to download.
- Attend to your physical needs
- Have drinking water available, and drink through a straw if you're using a headset. For your best voice, sit upright or stand.
- Have good access to your materials
- If you need reading material, avoid paper shuffling by spreading the pages on a desk, or tape them to a wall if you aren't on camera. If you're on camera, use a teleprompter or cue cards. Keep a notepad and pen handy. Have your appointment calendar ready.
- Guide your audience
- Use simultaneous Web and
video channels in parallel
with audio only if the
- If your audience is following your presentation in written form, announce your place whenever you change to a new page or slide. If some exhibits are documents, prepare them in advance with page numbers, line numbers, internal hyperlinks, and bookmarks to ease direction and navigation.
- Remember the recording
- If your presentation is recorded, and if some of the audience is present audio-only, take care to describe explicitly what they cannot see: page or slide numbers, features of graphics, URLs, and other items they might not have.
- Speak clearly
- Speaking clearly is always essential, but in virtual presentations, you might be unaware of some competing noise sources, such as line noise and local noise at the listener's location.
- Be fascinating
- In the virtual presentation context, you're competing with powerful distractions for audience attention, including email, texting, games, food, and interruptions. Be funny, dynamic, and intriguing. Omit long descriptions of what everyone knows.
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