Inman tech columnist Craig Rowe shares four tips on how to conduct great online meetings.
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- Demonstrating your brand or software online is a valuable sales strategy, but requires preparation.
- Have other resources ready in case of a bad or slow connection.
- Know the software you’re presenting with.
We’ve all been there.
More people than you expected have packed the room. Some faces are familiar, the majority strange, but eager. New prospects.
Twenty seconds into your host’s introductory monologue you realize the presentation isn’t loaded.
“We’re very thankful to have with us today … ”
It’s on your computer, buried a few folders deep.
” … Background includes having been … ”
Is it on the desktop?
Too late. Applause. You’re up.
Your presentation isn’t.
We’ve all uttered out of embarrassment the exhausted but alternative-less explanation that comes out in some form of “Huh, technology” when a computer, projector or software burps all over the podium just in time for your big show.
But everyone knows it’s not the tech — it’s the presenter.
I’ve sat through enough online software demonstrations to understand when a shaky presentation is the fault of an unstable browser plug-in or an ill-prepared person on the other end of the Internet.
Consider these four tips for your next online presentation:
1. Get the worm.
Fifteen minutes before your presentation, shut down the extra browser tabs and close the memory-sapping applications.
You never know when a screen-sharing site isn’t up to speed that day or if a file in your demo has been corrupted. Get other external office collaborators online and ready.
In short, be fully prepared to start when the clock strikes start time. Compensate for unexpected “traffic,” like you would in a morning commute.
2. Turn off distractions
We have so deeply connected ourselves that we’ve lost count of how many ways we’re alerted to things going on that have nothing to do with what’s going on. I hear a phone vibrate on 8 out of 10 software demos.
At least its on vibrate, I suppose.
This is your captain speaking: Hand-held devices, desktop chat tools and all other methods of irksome notification need to be turned off for the duration of this demo. Not in game mode, not in airplane mode, in off mode.
3. Know the software
No, not what your presenting about, what you’re presenting with. There are a number of very reliable online meeting tools out there and a few that frustrate me.
However, I look at these tools like I do recommending restaurants: One person’s five-star experience is another person’s hair in the potatoes.
Here are a few of my standouts: GoToMeeting, UberConference, Google Hangout.
Join.me, Skype and FaceTime have at times made me want to bail out of the presentation, sans parachute.
4. Brevity is the soul of wit
That’s not only my favorite bit of stage dialogue from the Bard, it’s also a highly relevant tip for talking over the Internet.
Presenting online is inherently harried. You have a window of meeting time that has a hard start and stop, not always the case when chatting over cappuccino.
The clock is right there in front of your audience. You don’t have time to tell them everything you think is great about you or your product.
Know your highlights, summarize what problems are being solved, and always leave time for a brief digression or two. (Especially when presenting to me.)
Lastly, control the meeting — don’t be afraid to pull your guest back on track.
Especially when presenting to me.
Bonus tip: When sharing your screen, be mindful of what browser tab titles are visible. Ask me how I know.
Think these tips can help? Am I way off? Have any other online presentation tips that readers should know? Share away.
Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.