The Secrets to Effective Teleconferences and Online Presentations

Business people from companies far and wide are moving to webinars as a key enabler of communication across states and countries. We know meetings can be boring at the best of times, and  even more boring when the audience is sitting in another country or region listening to you in a teleconference or watching you on the web.

The MOST frequently asked question I receive through social media is: “how can you get people to pay attention when you can’t see them?” The answer is that it’s essential you make the technology secondary to your human connections and communicate your message as though you are in the room with the audience.


Here are my top 10 tips for you:

1. Identify your purpose.
What do you want to accomplish with this meeting? Have you chosen the right type of media for communicating the message? Is a webinar or teleconference the best way to update your colleagues?

2. Learn how to use the software.
Most of us don’t have any coaching before we have to log in and get started, and invariably technological glitches ruin people’s focus. Learn how to use the software so that you can relax and focus on communicating the message.

3. Send the agenda in advance.
Make sure that you send your agenda in advance and be specific about who should talk about each part of the message. Mix it up so that people from the different countries and regions are communicating every few minutes – this gives people very little time to switch off (or put you on ‘mute’ and go to the toilet!) Be sure that every attendee is clear they will be asked to sign that they listened, participated and understood what was covered once the meeting concludes. This is of course an excellent way to ensure people tune in up front!

4. Include a seating plan in the agenda, and interact with the attendees.
This is going to seem completely nuts! A client of mine (a Vice President in a well known IT company) was finding people were getting up and leaving the room which meant he had no idea who was listening and who wasn’t! So he submitted a seating plan with his agenda. The seating was around one huge virtual board table. And although people were in different countries and regions he sat them around the table as though they were all sitting around the same table. So if Fred in Singapore was at the head of the table, he was sure that no one else was placed in Fred’s seat. During the course of his meetings he refers to people by their name and position around the table. For example he says: “Fred – at the head of the table” (and then he says what he wants to say. “Gladys on my direct right” and then he speaks with Gladys. This VP had ‘spies’ in the various countries check to see what was happening and he found that because people were being asked to sit in a certain chair – they did! And better still – they didn’t get up!

5. Create compelling content.
What do you need to say to shift your audience from their current state, to your desired state? Stick to only essential content.

6. Create stimulating slides.
Slides can reinforce your key messages when designed well – keep them simple and use mainly appropriate images from a photo library such as:

7. Warm up your voice.
Make your voice sing! When presenting online it’s critical that we have clear, crisp articulation, rich resonant tonality, strong vocal power and a variety of speed, volume and pitch. Learn how to warm up your voice so you sound as credible and believable as possible when you speak.

8. Sharpen up your presentation skills.
In particular tap into your personal store of charisma through the communication of your emotional objectives. What do you want your audience to feel? Make sure you feel it too! There will be opportunity for your audience to be concerned, relieved, optimistic, empowered and compelled at different times in your message – make sure your voice and body reflect this so you make it easy for your audience to know how to feel at different times.

9. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
Exceptional presenters rehearse – even in this forum. Jump online and practice the whole presentation (ideally with someone who can give you some feedback on how you sound).

10. Make it interactive and get their sign-off.
In case this isn’t obvious – the best way to stop people putting you on mute and doing their ‘real’ work is to keep them interacting throughout. Make sure you ask the audience lots of questions throughout. For example, “Flossy in Singapore what do you think about xyz?”  “Ben in Malaysia, I’m going to ask Martha in Indonesia to respond and then I’m interested in your opinion too.” And make sure that every one of the attendees signs to say they attended the meeting, understood the content, participated to the best of their ability and will action the relevant action items. Remember what gets measured gets done, so a signature will work wonders for you!

11. One more for extra value!
Give yourself some feedback. Once the presentation is over, be sure to work out what you’d improve for next time and what you did well – write it down and be sure to read over this feedback plenty of time before your next presentation. Happy Presenting!

About Michelle Bowden

Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), co-creator of the PRSI (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best selling internationally published author (Wiley), editor of How to Present magazine, producer of Michelle Bowden TV, and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media. Subscribe to Michelle’s FREE How to Present magazine TODAY