Conducting your first meeting or making your first presentation is hard enough, but it can surprisingly be even harder when it is done remotely through the use of conferencing software. The lack of people present in the room with you can alleviate some anxiety, but if you aren’t used to hosting online presentations, it can still seem impossible. This quick guide for first-timers will tell you all you need to conduct an online meeting with confidence and get your pitch accepted or make an impression:
1. Perform a Test Run
Just as an actor wouldn’t put on a play without a dress rehearsal, you shouldn’t expect to hold your presentation without proper preparation. The Dummies Guide lists this as the most important part of holding meetings and cite the importance of writing up an agenda and preparing your time frame. You can go one further and perform a rehearsal presentation with a friend, colleague, or mentor who can coach you or provide some feedback to help spot any errors you make and eliminate the possibility of mistakes. It is also a good idea to test all of your equipment before the conference starts on the day to avoid being held back by technical gaffes.
2. Prepare Your Space
If you were making a presentation in the board room, you wouldn’t think too much about preparing the space, other than laying out the refreshments. When you are making the presentation from your own home, it becomes a bit more difficult as there are too many outside distractions that could set you back and additional steps to be taken. Open up your webcam to ensure that nothing embarrassing is visible in the background. Double check yourself in a mirror to ensure you are presentable. Most importantly of all, ensure that everybody in your home knows about your meeting and that you can’t be disturbed while it is taking place. SkyMogul says that pets especially can be a problem and should be kept out of the room at all costs. If you have a particularly noisy pet who hates being left alone, slip them a treat or a toy just before the meeting starts to keep them distracted and quiet.
3. Perform a System Check
Technical problems may be unavoidable at times, but they can still have a negative impact on how you are perceived by others. You won’t be able to solve them all of the time, but you can ensure your meeting has the best quality possible by checking your device’s technical specifications before your call. Check your internet connection and that your webcam and microphone settings are correctly configured. If you need to stream a video during your presentation, double check that too. If errors do occur, keep in mind that business video conferencing software such as BlueJeans has a technical support line available to help you with them. Just be sure to perform your checks and catch them in good time so that they won’t hold up your discussion. Another thing that many people forget about, particularly if they are using a PC, is scheduled computer updates that could cause your device to restart unexpectedly and take a while to recover.
4. Be Talkative, but Give Others Their Turn
You want to come across as engaged and friendly to make your points more affective, but not by alienating others to do so. Make your point effectively, but remember that you are there to discuss and share your views with other people. Try to make it a 70/30 percent split at the minimum. Ensure that everybody in attendance has a chance to share their opinions and make a contribution and don’t allow yourself for anybody else to dominate the conversation or talk rudely over others. A lively conversation that everybody is engaged with will make much more of an impact than a group of people listening to a single person talking. Using open ended questions is one good way to do this.
5. Have a Good Closing Statement
The final impression you give will likely be the thing that will stick in other people’s minds, so a good closing is essential. Not only do you want to ensure you finish on time rather than rambling on, find a good final statement to end on and then thank everybody for coming to the meeting. They will be likely to remember you and the points you made for a while afterwards.
Just as it would in the board room, proper preparation, a lively discussion, and an air of confidence will help you in your online conferences too. There are certain additional things to think about when you are online, particularly technical problems, but if you keep up good habits and conferencing etiquette then your meetings will all run smoothly and be successful.