Over the last decade, two business trends have had a deep impact on the way we work. First, is the fact that organizations are becoming increasingly complex as they expand around the globe. Second, is that cost efficiencies have led to a mass adoption of smart technologies for virtual connection. Capgemini Consulting has published an insightful paper about the new Digital Workplace which you should read.
While this maybe a necessary development, have we lost the humanness? Isn’t business about relationships? A particular area where I feel we need to reflect upon more is presentations- those happening virtually (webex, phone calls, etc).
Virtual Presentations are especially challenging to the presenter because:
- There is a lack of connection with the audience
- The probability of your audience tuning off is very high
Therefore, there is an urgent need to improve the efficiency of Virtual presentations. Here are some tips based on my own experiences:
Change the rules Set the ground rules and expectations beforehand for a Virtual Presentation. A best practice is to circulate a pre-read to all participants at least 48 hours in advance. Then, during the presentation, do only a short summary and use more time for discussions, questions and making decisions. This is a great way of fostering engagement and dialogue.
Get on a cam Ensure all participants have access to a video camera. In most companies, you will be able to do a Video Conference as well. Book this early enough so everyone can find access. This adds a bit of a personal touch.
Be yourself Picture yourself standing in front of your audience, even if they are only virtually there. Connect with them just like in a real presentation. Ask them how their day has been, any professional updates or share an inspiring success story from your market. It will help you to be more at easy and present naturally.
Check all connections Before the presentation starts, make sure you have all your audio and video connections set up perfectly. Keep the phone number of your service desk at hand, in case of any issues. Request your audience to join 15 minutes before the scheduled presentation time so they have time to connect as well and troubleshoot if necessary.
Ask for Feedback Take a few minutes before the presentation ends to solicit feedback on the setup. Be specific. Did the audio and video work well for everyone? Was there enough time for questions? What can be improved the next time?
Summarize Send a short summary of the key discussion areas and action points after the meeting. You may also want to save a voice recording of the presentation- most service providers have this service and it can be very helpful in making notes and for future reference.
Like it or not, Virtual presentations are here to stay. Rather than making them cold and impersonal, bring your usual warmth and the personal touch. Like with regular presentations, planning is essential. So, take the time and effort to go beyond the content. Your audience will appreciate this and it will elevate the standard of your presentations.