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!

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenuifMphIQalDlNxTZner@ChaclfHAWcdEwmagWUPRoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

If only I were a florist?Don't Worry, Anticipate!
Dramatic changes in policy or procedure are often challenging, especially when they have some boneheaded components. But by accepting them, by anticipating what you can, and by applying Pareto's principle, you can usually find a safe path that suits you.
US Medal of HonorExpress Your Appreciation and Trust
Some people in your organization have done really outstanding work. You want to recognize that work, but the budget is so small that anything you could do would be insulting. What can you do? Express your Appreciation and Trust.
William Ross Ashby, who discovered the Law of Requisite VarietyCompletism
Completism is the desire to create or acquire a complete set of something. In our personal lives, it drives collectors to pay high prices for rare items that "complete the set." In business it drives us to squander our resources in surprising ways.
Well-wishers greet physicist Stephen Hawking (in wheelchair) at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing FacilityLogically Illogical
Discussions in meetings and in written media can get long and complex. When a chain of reasoning gets long enough, we sometimes make fundamental errors of logic, especially when we're under time pressure. Here are just a few.
The Messerschmitt Me 262, which was the first jet fighter to fly in combatHow to Foresee the Foreseeable: Preferences
When people collaborate on complex projects, the most desirable work tends to go to those with highest status. When people work alone, they tend to spend more time on the parts of the effort they enjoy. In both cases, preferences rule. Preferences can lead us astray.

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness, Effective Communication at Work and Virtual and Global Teams for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Five almondsComing October 25: Workplace Memes
Some patterns of workplace society reduce organizational effectiveness in ways that often escape our notice. Here are five examples. Available here and by RSS on October 25.
Terminal 3 of Beijing Capital International AirportAnd on November 1: Risk Creep: I
Risk creep is a term that describes the insidious and unrecognized increase in risk that occurs despite our every effort to mitigate risk or avoid it altogether. What are the dominant sources of risk creep? Available here and by RSS on November 1.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenKpXjzyLWotHPjAglner@ChacdXuiDESQZykjVkfVoCanyon.com or (617) 491-6289, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

Ten Project Management Fallacies: The Power of Avoiding Hazards
Most Ten Project Management Fallaciesof what we know about managing projects is useful and effective, but some of what we know "just ain't so." Identifying the fallacies of project management reduces risk and enhances your ability to complete projects successfully. Even more important, avoiding these traps can demonstrate the value and power of the project management profession in general, and your personal capabilities in particular. In this program we describe ten of these beliefs. There are almost certainly many more, but these ten are a good start. We'll explore the situations where these fallacies are most likely to expose projects to risk, and suggest techniques for avoiding them. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Workplace Politics Awareness Month KitIn October, increase awareness of workplace politics, and learn how to convert destructive politics into creative politics. Order the Workplace Politics Awareness Month Kit during October at the special price of USD 29.95 and save USD 10.00! Includes a copy of my tips book 303 Secrets of Workplace Politics which is a value!! ! Check it out!
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
303 Tips for Virtual and Global TeamsLearn how to make your virtual global team sing.
101 Tips for Managing ChangeAre you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt?
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.