Getting Comfortable with Digital Meetings and Presentations
Digital meetings and presentations are much more cost-effective than traveling or convening a group of people in a single location for an hour or two. These might include sales webinars, training sessions, virtual conferences or presentations between supplier and customer.
The trick is to make the transition to virtual meetings smooth and professional. In-person meetings let you watch body language, facial expessions, side conversations and attention spans. These are mostly absent in a digital forum unless everyone has their camera on. And even then, your eyes can’t be watching all participants and pay attention to your presentation at the same time.
So here are a few tips to help you get comfortable with making digital presentations and participating in virtual meetings.
Prepare for your virtual meeting
Just as you would prepare for a face-to-face meeting, get your materials organized, create your presentation deck and become very familiar with the functions and features of the presentation system you will be using. Each system has unique features and you must know how to move smoothly through the process, how to unmute participants, how to switch presentations and so much more. Some even have a “blur” setting so you can obscure your background or have a picture of a nice beach or sunset behind you.
You really cannot take a presentation you have made in front of a live audience and simply share it digitally. The results will not be the same and probably not well received. Your interactions with a remote audience are limited so your visuals must reinforce your message well.
Practice your presentation using the presentation system beforehand so you work out any tough spots.
Send the login information, including the URL, password, call in numbers and an agenda, at least one business day in advance so they have the information needed. If it’s the first time with this group of participants, suggest they log in a few minutes early in the event they have to download an app and test connectivity before the actual start time of your meeting.
Be Engaging, Stay Focused
Don’t skip the early call pleasantries – you need to engage in a little chitchat to help put people at ease and reacquaint them with your voice and speech cadence. Do a little housekeeping by asking participants to put their questions in chat or raise their hands. Explain how the call will go briefly and ask for their agreement. To keep people engaged and paying attention, you might want to ask questions during your meeting but avoid tough questions or ask a particular person so you don’t have a long period of dead air followed by several people trying to talk at once.
Don’t try to pack too much into your meeting. Keep your topics to no more than two. Otherwise you may confuse or “turn off” your audience. If the call is longer than one hour, give participants a 10 minute bio break. Adults don’t sit for long periods of time well; their concentration and focus strays easily.
Think about your clothing and stay neutral – no plaids or stripes that cause video jitters. Be dressed as you would in a face-to-face meeting: if the customer usually dresses in business attire (tie, suit jacket) then mirror that as you present.
Stay fully focused on your presentation and participants throughout the meeting. If you sound or act distracted, that will come across to your attendees and you will lose them. Iron out any technical issues well before the meeting begins, asking new participants to log in as much as 15 minutes early so you and they can ensure smooth connectivity.
Digital Meeting Etiquette
Here are some quick reminders for what to do and what not to do whether you’re the presenter or a participant in a digital meeting.
Be polite, attentive and respectful to all participants and speakers
Speak clearly and a little bit more slowly, near the microphone
Slow down your presentation slightly to allow for comprehension
Keep body movements to a minimum if you are on camera
Keep your microphone on mute unless you are asking a question or presenting content
Move and gesture slowly but naturally
Maintain eye contact by looking in the camera, not at your notes
Keep the session interesting with mild jokes, quips, cartoons, asking softball questions
Relax and enjoy the session
Smile even when you’re not on camera – your pleasant demeanor on or off screen still communicates to your attendees
Avoid making distracting sounds – tapping a pen, jingling change, sniffling, laughing loudly, shuffling papers, clanking bracelets or jewelry
Never shout or whisper – keep your voice at a normal tone
Try to not interrupt other speakers or participants – the audio lag can be a problem with this
No side conversations on mute or by covering the microphone – people can hear the slightest sounds and they are quite aware of what you’re doing
As you do more digital meetings and presentations, your natural personality and abilities will make them a snap. Give them a try!
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