Human Resources

Tips for Presenting via Conference Calls, Webinars, and Videoconferences

In yesterday’s Advisor, we heard from Brad Karsh, CEO and founder of JB Training Solutions, on the unique challenges of presenting material when you’re not physically in the room, along with some general tips for success. Today we present specific tips from Karsh regarding conference calls, webinars, and videoconferencing.

Karsh shared these presentation tips at the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Annual Conference and Exposition, held this past summer in Washington, D.C.

Conference Calls

Setup is critical on a conference call, says Karsh. You need to address goals, length, flow, and participants. You can take more control than you think (tell people when you’re turning pages, for example) and also hold back as much as you want, too. Karsh recommends sending the audience the whole presentation except for the last page. Then you control the dissemination of information, and they can’t read ahead.

Best practices for conference calls:

  • Stand up. People can tell a difference in your voice if you’re sitting down, says Karsh.
  • Gesture to the phone. “Do you look like an idiot? Yeah,” says Karsh. “But it sounds great over the phone.” This way you’re fighting the multitasking temptation your audience is experiencing.
  • Use names. People pay attention and focus when they hear their name.
  • Take notes. Write notes next to individuals’ names on the call as they speak so you can refer to it later if necessary. People will be impressed how you remembered all that—after all, they can’t see you writing, says Karsh.
  • Announce yourself every time you speak. “If you don’t have an awesome-sounding British accent, you’ll need to identify yourself when you start talking,” says Karsh.
  • Beware of that mute button! Unmute yourself before you start speaking.

Webinars

“Try to push conference calls to webinars, if possible,” says Karsh. “It’s a better medium … if you do it right, of course. It can be brutal otherwise!”

Here are some webinar best practices to keep your presentation on track:

  • Interact with the audience somehow every 10 minutes. Polls and quizzes can be good for this purpose, says Karsh.
  • Be mindful of the images and visuals you choose for your slides.
  • It doesn’t hurt to add more slides in order to spread out information—double up, says Karsh. A couple of words on a page is just fine.
  • Build your slides. Put in animations; make the information comprehensive.
  • “Seriously … build every slide,” Karsh reiterates (i.e., don’t delegate building your presentation). If you build your own slides, you’ll probably be 50% more effective.
  • Having an organizer or moderator for your webinar can help with addressing technical issues or Q&A sessions.
  • Send a copy of the presentation afterward instead of giving it to them ahead of time, says Karsh. This way, you won’t have people reading ahead and jumping to their own conclusions.
  • Print out the slides and have the hard copy in front of you.

Videoconferences

Videoconferencing is also becoming a popular method of remote presentation. Here are some best practices:

  • First things first—know the technology, says Karsh (or at least get someone in the room who knows it).
  • Talk to the camera—NOT the screen.
  • A videoconference call brings body language back into the equation, says Karsh. Make gestures and look into the camera to establish eye contact.

Remember, now your audience can see what you’re wearing … and what’s going on behind you. Control the environment and keep it appropriate!

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