Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 8, Issue 23;   June 4, 2008: Virtual Presentations

Virtual Presentations

by

Modern team efforts almost certainly involve teleconferences, and many teleconferences include presentations, often augmented with video or graphics. Delivering these virtual presentations effectively requires an approach tailored to the medium.
One site auditing a virtual presentation

One site auditing a virtual presentation. The presenter is at another site, controlling the screen remotely. Note that the display doesn't occupy the entire screen, and that a minor adjustment of the projector position would probably make things much better. In all likelihood, the presenter has no idea that the image is so small. Thus, even when your presentation makes use of a graphical channel, it's best to assume that at least some in the audience might have some difficulty reading it. Photo courtesy Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

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
presentation truly
requires them
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.

Most important: every location, every connection, and every presentation is unique. If you want things to go well, practices and dry runs are essential. Go to top Top  Next issue: Inbox Bloat Recovery  Next Issue

303 Tips for Virtual and Global TeamsIs your organization a participant in one or more global teams? Are you the owner/sponsor of a global team? Are you managing a global team? Is everything going well, or at least as well as any project goes? Probably not. Many of the troubles people encounter are traceable to the obstacles global teams face when building working professional relationships from afar. Read 303 Tips for Virtual and Global Teams to learn how to make your global and distributed teams sing. Order Now!

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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

The end of the line for a railroad trackComing May 30: Chronic Peer Interrupters: I
When making contributions to meeting discussions, we're sometimes interrupted. Often, the interruption is beneficial and saves time. But some people constantly interrupt their peers or near peers, disrespectfully, in a pattern that compromises meeting outcomes. How can we deal with chronic peer interrupters? Available here and by RSS on May 30.
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People use a variety of tactics when they're interrupted while making contributions in meetings. Some tactics work well, while others carry risks of their own. Here's Part II of a little survey of those tactics. Available here and by RSS on June 6.

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