Converting your Live Meetings or Presentations to a Virtual Setting: 10 Tips
Like many people this week, you might be scrambling to figure out how to convert an in- person presentation, interview, or meeting into a remote meeting because of the Coronavirus. It’s an important meeting. How can you possibly pull this off? This just won’t be as good as in person!
While it’s hard to replace an in person connection, opting out of the workshop, meeting or presentation completely has consequences. Teams may miss important context, vendors could lose clients, the list goes on. We shouldn’t let COVID-19 prevent us from communicating effectively.
Here are 10 tips to ensure your remote meetings and presentations are still engaging and fruitful:
- Keep it brief. In our experience, we notice that remote audiences lose steam after 1 hour. If you have a critical 2-hour meeting planned, consider doing a 5-minute break half-way through, or consider sending out pre-reads so you can get that meeting down to 1 hour or less.
- Learn and test out the technology: This may seem obvious, but a common mistake many remote presenters make is logging onto the platform the day of the presentation and hoping that the technology will work flawlessly. Just as you would for a live in-person event, spend some time learning the layout of the virtual space. Getting comfortable with the technology will allow you to focus more on your delivery in the moment. If you’re logging in from a new location, make sure to test the internet speed — low resolution or delayed video can cause virtual audience members to zone out.
- Log on early to make sure your background looks professional. Before others join the meeting, log on early and take a look at what’s behind you. Make sure there’s nothing distracting in the background. One time I started a meeting from my home office, and I had forgotten to close the bathroom door behind me and halfway through the meeting I looked behind me and realized everybody had been looking at a toilet right behind me. This is not the impression I wanted to make. Now I always log on early and check what I look like, as well as the room.
- Look into the computer camera: Remember to look into the camera while presenting or fielding questions. If you’re scanning your screen, your audience might think you’re not paying attention or lack confidence. To help you remember to look at the camera, stick a Post-It note next to your camera that has an arrow pointing to the camera and it says “Look Here!”?
- Stand to keep the energy up: If you are at home, put a chair on your table or stack books to so your computer camera is at eye level. Smile and gesture as you speak. Pretend that you are face to face with your colleagues in a standing meeting. Standing helps you stay focused and project volume and confidence.
- Ask remote attendees to turn on their cameras: People are shy about how they look and if one person doesn’t turn on their camera, others might start to turn off their cameras. Ask everybody to turn on their cameras so you can more gauge audience interest on your points and more easily present. You can tell them, “In our weekly meetings, I love seeing all your faces. I don’t care if you haven’t combed your hair today or not, but this will help us have a productive meeting.” Or, “Please turn your cameras on so I don’t feel as quite alone presenting. I’d love to feel like I am talking to a live audience — given the unusual circumstances.”
- Start strong: Going over housekeeping items is a surefire way to drive people straight to their email before you even get going. Be ready to clearly and enthusiastically state the purpose of the engagement from the get-go.
- Speak loudly, slowly and clearly: This is important for in-person presentations, and twice as important for phone and remote presentations. There’s nothing worse than having a remote meeting with someone who mumbles or rambles. Enunciate and pause.
- Pause frequently to make it interactive. Break down your content into small, bite-sized chunks. After each chunk, pause and allow people the chance to interact. Get engagement at least once every three to five minutes. You can say something like, “Before I move on, does anyone have any questions?” Or “ Let me pause there and get your thoughts on x.”
10. Eliminate noisy distractions. Plan ahead to eliminate unnecessary noise. For example, headphones usually pick up background noise very easily. Make sure to avoid rustling of papers, or any phone pings and dings. If you have noisy kids or neighbors, let them know ahead of time that you’ve got an important engagement and you need it to be quiet. Set up your presentation in the most quiet area of your house.