Here’s a hint – stay cool!
Wear your sunglasses, loosen your tie, sit up straight, floss beforehand and put your phone on silent. Now, go.
Ok, maybe you can ditch the sunglasses. But seriously, it really is that simple. Yes, the digital information age is pushing us more and more aggressively into the online world, not only with regards to the manner in which we receive information but also regarding how we send it and communicate around it. And many of us find ourselves in online meetings and conference calls with coworkers, prospects, clients, and vendors online rather than in person. The dynamic of the online meeting might shift a bit, but the effectiveness of the presentation pretty much remains the same – just make sure you know how to use your tools.
Do Your Homework
First and foremost be a Subject Matter Expert or SME. Do your research, organize your thoughts, and practice. I’m sure you have your share of ‘presentation’ memories. All of them have one thing in common – you had to be well-prepared and well-rehearsed. When you present online you need to be equally polished – (Not your forehead though as the webcam will reflect the shininess in a video conference)
Know your audience
Maybe more important than just being an SME, is really knowing your audience. You need to connect with them and be able to address them. If it’s a small group of prospects, for example, know them by name. Google them or check out their profiles on Linkedin before the presentation. If it’s a large “broadcast only” presentation like a webcast or webinar, then understand your target demographic. Know what drives them, and what annoys them. Engage them. Speak to their concerns. If it’s your team or your supervisors, understand what their priorities are and create your presentation around them.
Check your links beforehand
If you’re going to use links to other sites during your presentation, then take the time beforehand to embed the right links and check that they are complete. If you are sharing youtube or video links, check your browser speed or pre-record the content. (I always keep a 30 sec tap dance skit on standby if all else fails) And if you plan on sharing your desktop, make sure you close all of your IM conversations, all open browsers, and even your Outlook. You don’t want any unnecessary comments or emails popping up during a desktop share – your audience will see it all.
Less is More
Like a good filet mignon or single malt, keep all aspects of your presentation simple. Don’t overcomplicate slides with too many words, colors or animations. Graphics, images, and charts are supplemental to your message. Emphasize only the words you want to stand out. Speak clearly, and not too quickly – and be considerate of a potential international audience. One of the beauties of online presenting is that it reduces barriers and gives limitless access to anyone in the world regardless of location. Keep it simple.
Know the platform
Even if you have all the first 4 elements of your presentation nailed, they will have no impact whatsoever if no one experiences it. If you’re presenting online, then you’re going to be using an online collaboration tool – whether it’s a web conferencing tool, a type of video conferencing software, or even an enterprise instant messenger, you must know how it works. Play around with it before your presentation, do a dry run, anticipate glitches and know how to troubleshoot. If you have animations on your slides, make sure they still work with your tool. If you need to highlight areas of your slide while presenting, make sure your tool can do that, and if it doesn’t, then find a work-around.
And if sunglasses put you in the ‘zone’ then by all means, wear them! Comfort and confidence are fundamentally at the core of all these tips. Just remember to take them off if you’re using a webcam.