5 tips for the dreaded teleconference presentation

August 11, 2008 at 9:24 am | Posted in Business, Professional Development | 2 Comments
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I hate teleconferences because I can’t visually read the audience. Recently we opted for a teleconference on an important meeting. One of my coworkers (who also had to present) IM’d me during the call and said, “I think this is great… keeps us focused.” Good thing he wasn’t in smacking distance.

For me, telepresentations are just about the worst-case scenario. But, as I thought it about it more, he had fairly easy news to deliver, whereas mine involved far more challenging topics. Had the roles been reversed, perhaps our reactions would have been as well.

Regardless, sometimes phone presentations are unavoidable. Here are some tactics I have used in the past that seem to be helpful.

1) Pause. A lot. Give folks time to respond. You can’t believe how often you pause in a normal conversation because of visual cues. Without them, you have to force yourself to do it.

2) Use a headset, or handset, if possible. Speakerphones are a nightmare for presentations. I probably don’t even need to elaborate on this one.

3) Don’t ask “can you hear me OK?” Here’s a better approach. Take a minute up front to talk on your handset, and then use the alternative (headset, speaker, whatever) Let them know what you’re doing, then ask them if it’s OK to use your preferred method. They may say, “oh, dude, you NEED to use the handset.” or they’ll say, “nah, you’re fine either way.” I hate handsets too, but bad audio can KILL your presentation.

4) Use personal names. Jot them down and use them often. Instead of asking, “Does that make sense?”, try saying, “Christian, does that make sense to you?” Hearing your name zaps you back into the conversation (and away from email, or blackberry, or Olympic results on the Internet, or whatever). Do it enough, and folks start paying attention.

5) Ask questions that require a thoughtful response (and use someone’s name!). “Everyone OK with that?” is too vague and can be processed way on the back burner by the listener. But, “Andy, do you prefer we do A, or would you like to try B?” Or, you could say, “Andy, what possible downside do you see if we do A?” That requires the person to focus.

By using some of these techniques, you’ll quickly be able to tell how engaged your audience is, and then adapt accordingly.



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  1. Whew! Andy and Christian must be really tough guys to work with! ;^)

  2. I read the news about video conferencing been installed in hotels. This is very useful for Diplomats and VIPs to keep them up to date with their routine work back at home.

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