By Kevin Eikenberry, co-founder of the Remote Leadership Institute.
While we’ve all sat through one too many presentations in our lives, most of them are very important when it comes to disseminating information and training employees. Especially when all or part of your team is remote, your presentations need to be crystal clear so as not to cause confusion among employees.
That’s why you should never make these seven statements during a presentation to your virtual staff:
“You guys at home can’t see this …”
First of all, if you are referencing any documentation, slide, image, etc., make sure remote employees have a copy of it in front of them. Don’t say “I’ll send it after the meeting” or “I’m sending it over now.” Make sure everyone has a copy of the final presentation with all documentation well before the meeting so that employees can review it. Second, don’t include anything on a slide that all your team members won’t be able to clearly read. If you are unsure about a graphic or image, recreate it.
“As you can clearly see …”
Don’t assume that people will see what you see. After all, you created or provided an image to support a point you want to make. Your employees are seeing the image for the first time. Skip this phrase and explain the image thoroughly, even if you think people “get” it.
“I didn’t really have time to prepare but …”
That statement sends up a red flag that your presentation is going to be painful for your employees. Worse, you essentially tell them that their time isn’t important to you. Neither of those things set you up to succeed. Maybe you aren’t as prepared as you should be, but don’t announce it. Just do your best.
“I know I am out of time, but let me just …”
Again, this says to people “My finishing this is more important than your time,” and people will become frustrated or even tune you out. The time to realize you are behind isn’t at the end of your presentation. You need to be pacing yourself and sticking to an agenda to make sure you are on track to finish on time.
Preparation will help you to ensure you are covering your main points. However, it’s also key that you don’t try to cram too much into your presentations and that you allow time to answer questions and clarify information.
“I have a lot of information to cover, so let me get started.”
You might as well just tell people “I’m about to bore the heck out of you.” Presentations are best when they are focused. If you try to cover too much, you will rush through certain topics, and you can be sure that the information won’t be clear. The next time you feel like you have “too much to cover,” start editing. Decide what the audience must hear and cut everything else out. Or schedule multiple shorter presentations, rather than one long one.
“I’m sorry for the technical difficulties.”
It happens, but most technical problems can be prevented. Text your equipment and software well before the meeting/presentation starts, and send your slides or documents out as PDFs prior to the meeting as a backup. When something out of your control happens, rather than getting flustered, focus on your group and how you can move forward, even if it is without your technology. Ask someone else to work on fixing the technology as you begin your comments. Worst case scenario, reschedule the meeting. Don’t force people to sit there while you troubleshoot.
There is nothing truly wrong with this question, except when you ask it after you have finished (and everyone knows it). When you wait to ask questions at the end, two things typically happens. One, employees don’t ask questions, because they don’t want to prolong the meeting or they forget to ask a question that popped into their head early in the discussion. And two, you end up closing with a weak Q&A session, rather concluding with your most important points. Either way, people can leave the meeting confused or misinformed. Avoid that scenario by asking for questions early and throughout your presentations.
What other phrases do you hate to hear during virtual presentations?
Photo Credit: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/presentation-1504662