Making live presentations gives a familiar and dreaded feeling of butterflies in the stomach. Online presentations are a step above; they pose more challenges and of a different nature.
Consider this: You can’t read people’s body language, you can’t know if people are even listening to you. Your effectiveness goes for a toss since virtual presence is a great equalizer. And then there is a risk of home stuff creeping in official business.
All this while you are trying to influence that big sales or swing that executive decision in your favor! That’s why virtual meeting etiquettes are quite important.
In the wake of Coronavirus, people are forced to work remotely and make online presentations. They find themselves seriously under-equipped with the tools and ways of thinking about remote presentations. On the other hand, people who have these skills will rise and shine: They will be the masters of the Virtual Domain.
Here are our 15 Virtual Presentation Tips:
1) Dress up: As you usually would if you were presenting in person, even if it is an audio-only discussion. While it is undoubtedly comfy in your pajamas, you run a psychological risk of slipping into a comfort zone, which can take the edge off your presentation. Be fully groomed, look sharp so that you can be sharp.
2) Gear up: How many “can you hear me now moments have you had”? How about apologizing for the call dropping? Take our advice and do the following:
a)Invest in good equipment.
Here are our picks:
- Jabra Speak 510: Improves quality of the audio connection from your laptop; has a variety of connectivity options;
- Makes connecting with Skype of MS Teams a breeze
- Sennheiser Double Sided Business Headset: SC 660 USB CTRL (504555): The best headset I have come across. This is the only one with a physical mute button- yes, you read that right- a rare physical mute button that lights up when you press it.
Disclaimer: We earn no commission or have any commercial interests in the recommended products
b) Dial-in two lines simultaneously: Here are the advantages of doing that – You can hear your voice on the other line: that way you will not have to ask if you are audible. If one disconnects, you can pick the other.
3) Warm-up: You do not have the human touchy-feely warmth when on a cold, dry phone call. Believe it or not, we are all humans and need a bit of small talk. Going straight to the point can make you appear very transactional and not interested in the other person. A little bit of warm-up can go a long way. While most discussions these days start with virus talk, weather, sports continue to be safe all-time favorites. One caveat is to find an opening to move quickly to the point and not make the starter encroach your main course.
4) Watch your back: If on Video, a cluttered background can ruin everything for which you should try to use MS Teams if possible and blur the background or use a white background.
5) Read cues: This one needs a bit of practice and is a pro technique. But you will do it if you are willing to listen carefully: The signs are all over the place:
A breath inward: Someone wants to speak.
Sigh: Didn’t fully agree with part of what you said
Total silence: Usually means no engagement
Sounds of typing: Same as above and many others.
6) Leave the keyboard alone: Whether you are taking notes during the meeting or chatting with your friend, the sound of your typing is really distracting. It’s not only preventing you from focusing on the meeting but also distracting everyone else in the meeting.
7) Mute your microphone when you’re not talking: There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing that aching noise from conflicting microphones. It also prevents any unwanted audio from entering your mic.
8) Send pre-reads: Send pre-reads, if possible, a day in advance for dense topics. It will give you a lot of invisible power and provide a solid impression that you are in command. Then restrict your presentation to topics that require discussions rather than pour over the material. I would recommend you send pdfs to avoid cluttering your audience’s mailboxes. The audience will notice this and thank you in their hearts.
9) Jazz up: The audience will not get the benefit of your charming physical presence. Make up for that by using good quality slides. A thumb rule is that slides have to speak for themselves since, like it or not, many will scroll ahead and read through everything while you are talking and make their impressions, which can often be hard to change. Use SlideUpLift to take advantage of the online library of great looking Powerpoint templates that use principles of vision science to create an impact.
10) Be Early: always! It creates a solid impression that you are on top of your game.
11) Lower Your Voice: Speak at a slower cadence than that of your everyday conversational speech. This is because most people use earphones during meetings and you will be speaking directly in their ears through the earphones.
12) Don’t eat during the conference: Would you ever bring anything to eat in a meeting? Then don’t bring it into your virtual meeting either. This is especially important if others can hear you chewing, it can cause a distraction for everyone.
13) Stick to the time frames: You should always keep an eye on the clock and make sure you start and finish your virtual meeting on time. This will reflect your professionalism and make others be on time.
14) Mind your body language: Body language is a vital part of online meeting etiquette. Even if you can speak and present flawlessly, your facial expression and posture say more than your words when you present online.
15) Protect Sensitive Information: If you are sharing your screen during the presentation, make sure that only the intended content is seen. Before you launch a video conference, close all unnecessary tabs from your browser. Launching a new browser window and preparing before time will help keep sensitive information confidential.
For extra control of what others see during your presentation, choose the option to share the screen only one screen or one app (i.e. only a Powerpoint presentation) instead of your full desktop.
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Online meetings are an effective means of communication and valuable methods for bringing your team together. But without preparation and the use of effective tools, they risk wasting participants’ time without actually achieving anything valuable.
Follow these 15 virtual meeting etiquette tips during your next meeting, and ask your team members to maintain these standards, to make your video conference more effective.