4 Things A Public Speaker Needs To Know About WebConferencing

What Works Well For Webconferencing?
What Works Well For Webconferencing?

So is delivering a presentation over the web easier or harder than delivering it to a live audience? Just to make sure that we’re all on the same page, let’s agree on what webconferencing is (hint: it’s not sending your PowerPoint presentation to someone via email). For our purposes, we can define webconferencing as a way to give a presentation, hold an important meeting, or even train employees without requiring the people participating to have to travel. Thanks to phone bridges, PowerPoint decks, and high-speed Internet connections this is now a viable way to deliver presentations.

The technology is pretty slick – you can quickly come up to speed on how to technically DO a webconference. The real trick is to find out how to do a GOOD JOB of presenting using this new technology. Dave Zielinski recently had a chance to talk with Laura Vizzusi and David Goad who work for Cisco’s WebEx division. WebEx rules this space on the web so these guys really know what they are talking about. Here are their top four suggestions for webconferencing public speaker wanna be’s:

  1. Prep, Prep, Prep: Just because the medium has changed, does not mean that the rules have changed. Even through you don’t have to travel to give the presentation and since, possibly, the audience won’t be able to actually see you, some people will be tempted to slack off. DON’T DO IT! You can still put your audience to sleep if you don’t deliver a polished presentation.
  2. It’s All In The Voice: How you sound is even more important in a webconference than it is when you are presenting in person. Whatever you do – don’t use a speakerphone! You will sound far away and your voice will fade in and out as you move your head. DO use a headset mic if you can. In fact, stand up and present if at all possible – this will allow you to project your voice better and will allow you to use the full range of your voice.
  3. That’s Why They Call Them Visual Aids: Since your audience won’t be able to look at you, they will be spending more time looking at your slides. Make sure they are worth looking at! You are also going to have to keep your slides moving right along in order to keep your audience’s attention. Slide transitions and the liberal use of photographs are always good ideas.
  4. Welcome To The 21st Century: Most webconferencing tools come with a variety of bells and whistles that allow you to interact with your audience during your presentation. Used poorly, you’ll tick everyone off. Used correctly, this is a great way to dynamically engage everyone in what you are saying. Tools like interactive polls and on-screen annotations can capture and hold everyone’s attention.

Don’t forget one of the biggest benefits of webconferencing is that it is very easy to record your presentation. This is a great way to give a presentation once and then use it over and over again…

How have the webconferences that you’ve given gone so far? Do you find that they are harder or easier than presentations given in person? Do you use the fancy new technical features that come as a part of webconference tools? Do you feel that you do a better or worse job of keeping your audience’s attention? Leave some comments and let me know what you are thinking.

4 thoughts on “4 Things A Public Speaker Needs To Know About WebConferencing”

  1. HI Jim
    Thanks for a great article on webconferencing. I would concur with all of the points made. I have found that whilst webconferencing offers some great advantages, it is also requires a lot more from us as presenters. It is far less forgiving and I would say that I am working twice as hard both before and during and the presentation to ensure smooth flow, audience interaction and overall momentum.

    The benefits for me have been (a) access to new markets – including Eastern Europe and China, (b) no nights away from home, and (c) access to some really clever technology which allows for people spread around the globe to interact in real time.
    The disadvantages are (a) system crashes on both slides and audio, (b) poor quality audio lines, (c) people being tempted to ” disengage” and carry on with other work, (d) having to work much harder to maintain interest and interaction, and (e) slow bandwidths in South Africa.
    In summary, this technology has added a great dimension to my business but should not be integrated without careful planning and preparation.

    • Andy: what’s that saying? “It’s never easy being a Pioneer!” Congrats on getting out there and making use of the webconferencing tools that are available today. I suspect that you have already built up a number of “back up plans” for things to do when the system starts to give you trouble. We’re going to be looking to you for guidance as more and more of us start to make use of videoconferencing every day…!

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