This is the third in a series of simple presentation tips that will make your web meetings, webinars and presentations more effective.
Your webmeeting platform has a lot of cool features. Unfortunately, that doesn’t matter much because you’re likely not using them. As a rule, 80% of people use 20% of the features of online presentation tools. Why not? Because most of us aren’t comfortable with the multi-tasking it takes to talk, listen, write on a white board, read the chat and not lose your mind.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that stressful.
Presenting online is a little more complicated than presenting in a room full of people, but it feels a LOT more intimidating for several reasons. The big one is this: besides all the normal challenges of delivering a good presentation, you are adding the use of technology on top of trying to remember your content, manage your pace, and making sure you’re not babbling. The last one is usually enough for most of us to worry about.
So what are the things you can do to help reduce multi-tasking on your presentations and allow you to focus more easily? Let’s start with these:
Pre-load your content before the presentation starts.
Most platforms allow you to upload content in advance of actually showing your visuals. This means PowerPoint presentations, white boards, polls and applications you want to share should be loaded in advance (if you can) or at least open on your computer and be ready to go. You should be able to switch from one to the other with a click of the mouse instead of having to open them in the moment. Furthermore, if you’re going to use annotation tools, ensure that your fonts, colors and other decisions are made and set before the meeting starts. The less you have to think about, the smoother it will be.
Enlist the help of others.
It’s hard enough to focus on your content and present it in an engaging, interesting way. But what if you’re going to use a whiteboard? Now you have to think, talk, listen to responses, type on the whiteboard and even try to SPELL CORRECTLY. It’s a lot, which is why so many of us don’t do it, even when we know it might be the best thing to do. As a presenter you should plan and prepare to use these tools, but nobody says you have to be the one writing on it. Enlist the help of an assistant to actually do the typing which will free your brain up to focus on content. The same is true of chat. Have someone whose job it is to scan the chat and keep an eye out for important questions or relevant comments. They can let you know if there’s something you need to address, and you aren’t trying to look four places at once.
Practice does not just mean flipping the slide deck muttering to yourself.
Remember when you started to drive? It felt overwhelming—you were checking mirrors, watching the speedometer, looking around you, and you barely held it together. Soon enough you were driving with one hand, eating a burger, tuning the radio and literally not giving any of it conscious thought. The same is true of presenting with technology. While there’s no way to avoid a learning curve, it IS a curve, and once you’ve done it a couple of times you will begin to spend less time worrying about what you’re doing and just do it. Because presenting online is more complicated, any rehearsal or practice should involve all the moving parts and tools that you’ll use in your presentation. If you’re going to use a poll, the first time you try it shouldn’t be with an audience waiting on you.
By the way, anecdotal evidence says that once you’ve used a tool half a dozen times, you will be far more comfortable and less distracted by it.
Presenting online is a learned skill. It won’t feel natural or easy at first (because it’s neither natural nor easy.) But by knowing what some of the distractions are, and mitigating them before you being presenting, your brain will be able to focus on the task at hand and you’ll look more professional and credible.
If you want to become an expert at leading virtual meetings, check out our on demand course, Leading Effective Virtual Meetings.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.