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Today’s Virtual World
Virtual meetings and presentations are becoming increasingly popular because of the following reasons:
People see virtual meetings as cost-effective, efficient and practical. Virtual meetings include training, teaching, account reviews, sales calls, client reviews and board meetings. As technology advances more of your future communications will be virtual.
If your presentation is not relevant, people won’t pay attention to it. Your message, purpose, topic and agenda must be compelling. If you don’t engage the audience quickly, they will tune out. Ask them to commit their attention for 25 minutes in exchange for 3 strategies that will help them generate opportunities with existing clients.
Ask the audience to turn off their cell phones. Make your presentation more interactive by calling on individuals in the crowd for input. Ask a question and wait until someone responds, even if it takes a long time. Your audience will understand that they must participate in order for you to continue with your speech. Open strong, using humor, visuals, video or sound effects and music to get people interested right away. Tell stories; they help bring your message alive. Use visual props as well.
Practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at delivering your ideas to others. Sit comfortably in front of a camera and speak clearly into it. Avoid fidgeting with your hands and maintain direct eye contact with the camera lens.
Watch the clock to make sure you don’t go over your time. Don’t use verbal graffiti, such as “you know”, “like” and “uh”. Virtual meetings must be exceptional presentations that seamlessly transition between stories, film clips, audio clips and background music. Technology can enhance a presentation but it’s what you say that matters most.
Learn from TV and Radio Broadcasters
Presenting virtually is not easy. It’s tough to connect with your audience, and it gets even tougher when people start looking at their phones or computers while you’re speaking. You have to be aware of the challenges that virtual presenters face, and there are many similarities between presenting virtually and broadcasting on radio or television. So learn from those experiences so that you can overcome them in virtual presentations.
Broadcast professionals do not interact with their audience. They make no eye contact, and they assume that people multitask while watching or listening to them. However, most of these presenters are excellent at what they do in a virtual environment. Watch and listen carefully to how announcers handle transitions between segments.
Planning is important in effective communication. Broadcasters use a rundown, which is an outline of the broadcast’s timing and flow. Use sequencing charts as your outlines to plan virtual presentations. A sequencing chart has five columns: time, topic, talent or presenter(s), tools and transitions between speakers/topics/tools. Fill in these columns with detailed information for each section as appropriate.
“The goal is to create a presentation atmosphere that appears as close as possible to a face-to-face meeting.” To do so, prepare an outline for your virtual presentation and include working information, time for questions and answers, and the resources you must develop in advance. Prepare guidelines detailing what role each person on your virtual team will play. Like broadcasters, follow the “most interesting first” rule by beginning with the most engaging information; answer five important questions:
What are the most important topics? What order should I present them in?
How much depth is there in the information I need to convey?
When should I leave for the Q&A? 5. How much can I reasonably expect to cover in my presentation time?
TV newscasters are always composed and never seem rushed. They must fit a lot of information into a short time frame, so they can’t waste any airtime. They won’t start their broadcast with “Um, good evening, uh…”
The Players and Tools
A newscast involves many people. The producers are important because they set up the show before it starts, and even help out during the broadcast. You might want a producer for your virtual presentation to do that as well. Other roles include hosts and co-hosts who can make interesting conversations between two people instead of just one person talking at a time. A facilitator can also assist in managing panel discussions or question-and-answer sessions.
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There are a number of things you can do to make your virtual presentation look professional, including photos, slides, graphics and video. You should plan out when you want to use these elements in your presentation as well as which ones will have the most impact on viewers. For example, if you’re going to show photos during your talk then it makes sense that they be pre-made so they don’t take up too much time or catch people off guard.
Organization and Planning
If you don’t plan your presentation, it will lack purpose and clarity. It won’t be relevant to the audience’s needs, and it will go wrong because of technology issues.
The first 60 to 90 seconds of your presentation are critical. You have to clearly convey the purpose right away and introduce primary concepts immediately. For example, you can say “The purpose of this meeting is to resolve any pending issues related to Acme.” Quickly outline what you plan on covering in the presentation and touch upon any special situations that relate directly with your topic.
Explain the consequences that result from a situation. For example, you might say, “As a result of not having enough product in the warehouse, we are losing orders.” Outline what needs to be done next and by when.
Planning your presentation into segments allows you to change the pace of the presentation continuously. This is important because it keeps interest in your audience and helps them focus on what’s most important. You should keep each segment shorter than five minutes, with a sequencing chart that shows how they all fit together. You can plan out individual segments using this chart and decide which technology will be used for each one (such as telepresence).
A webcast is a good way to go when you need video and audio, as well as one-way communication. Web conferencing lets participants communicate interactively but limits audience participation. Web conferencing works well when different people lead the presentation at different times.
Although conference calls don’t have a visual element, they are still an effective way to interact with people in different locations. You can add links to documents that you email out before the call so that participants can read them during the call. You can also create a linkinar of all those links and send them out as well. Skype is one such peer-to-peer application for video communication, while ooVoo is another example.
If you want to get a new customer, you should use technology that enables face-to-face meetings. If you’re communicating with team members who are already familiar with each other, teleconferencing is the best option.
Regardless of the type of presentation you’re making, you need to follow up. This is especially true if it’s virtual or online. Have your follow-up materials ready as soon as possible and send them out in a single communication—even if there are multiple presenters involved.
Should Your Presentation Be Virtual or Face-to-Face?
People and organizations often prefer virtual presentations to in-person ones because they are more cost effective. Virtual meetings can also be used when you need to disseminate information quickly, or if travel costs would otherwise be a problem. Face-to-face meetings are better for building relationships, closing deals, networking or sharing strategic ideas.
Research shows that face-to-face meetings are more effective than virtual ones. It also indicates that companies increase their revenues by $12.50 for every business travel dollar they spend and corporate executives strongly favor in-person meetings, which remain the clear winners when it comes to “persuasion, leadership, engagement, inspiration, decision making, accountability, candor (honesty), focus (concentration), clarity (understanding), brainstorming (ideas)” and reaching a consensus.
If No One Pays Attention, Your Presentation Is a Waste of Money
Virtual presentations can save money, but they’re only effective if your audience is engaged. If not, your audience will be distracted and multitask while you’re talking. Be as engaging and relevant as possible in order to keep their attention on you.