COVID Impact: Remote Presentations and Trainings.
When COVID-19 hit the United States, many of our clients went remote and suddenly had to engage potential customers—not to mention their own employees and other stakeholders—over video platforms and conference calls. Those responsible for lead generation, advocate training, employee onboarding, and other tasks struggled over the last few months to make a seamless transition to video. The good news is, you can effectively convey a passionate, energetic presentation through a webcam—you just have to properly prepare and adapt. Prep, Prep, Prep: Over video, you don’t have the luxuries of in-person communication. It’s hard to be charming when all your audience can see is a slide, so prepare for the worst and hope for the best. When you’re building out your deck, structure it to account for your audience’s attention span and be conscientious of their time. Rehearse a joke or anecdote that illustrates the idea you are trying to make. Practice your transitions to keep your presentation as smooth and seamless as possible. Be Visual: Some hate slides, others love them, but when communicating remotely some kind of visual element is essential. You can be the greatest presenter in the world, but to keep people engaged—and off of social media platforms or other distractions—you’ll need to include images more frequently than normal. Continually say, “on this slide you can see x” or “if you look at this image you will get a sense of what I am talking about” to direct your audience back to your presentation. By using slides and changing them often, you keep people engaged and watching. Know Your Tech: Redundancy is your friend. When I teach remotely, I use three computer monitors and run audio through my Bluetooth headphones connected to my phone. This might seem like overkill, but audio and video use a TON of bandwidth. If you can separate the network they are using, you will have a better feed. Google, Zoom, and GoToMeeting all allow you to display your presentation on one screen and see your audience on another, so having multiple screens is a must. Directly Engage: It is easy to silently sit on a call. Call out individuals by name and ask a simple question (e.g. “Hey X, do you think Y was a good idea?”) to get the ball rolling. Ask an opinion question first, then switch to questions that can have a wrong or right answer. Or, if you’re uncomfortable pushing people directly, post the question in the chat feature that most video platforms have today. Survey Your Audience: When I teach, I end each one of my lessons with a short survey asking what I could have done better and what the participants enjoyed the most. The survey reminds participants that they are part of the process, not just observers. Take that feedback and learn and grow from it—engagement will hopefully improve over time, especially if you have repeated participants who see you taking on their feedback.