Monday, October 5, 2009

Videoconferencing Best Practices: 7 Presentation Tips for Speakers

This post follows up on the last post about Verbal and Nonverbal Communication Tips and focus specifically on what you can do to be a better videoconferencing presenter. These tips were developed for presenters in a studio setting with support of an A/V team and not a meeting where presenters may handle the controls themselves. In most cases videoconferencing presenters aren't professional speakers and have had little or no practice in front of a camera. We've all heard that nervous sound in their voices or that "deer in the headlights" look when we see a presenter who is unrehearsed. The camera amplifies our nervousness and now with HD videoconferencing you can see things much clearer, which for many is not thought that one relishes. But it all becomes much easier with a practice which builds confidence. Public speaking skills and techniques also can help keep presenters focused and relaxed.

We've come a long way from the 35mm slide shows but presentation skills stay the same. The most important aspect of conducting a videoconferencing broadcast is the actual content delivery. It's the message that's important.

In my role as Videoconferencing Producer/Director, my goal has always been to make presenters feel at ease and help them deliver their presentations in a way that makes them feel most comfortable. For corporate videoconferencing broadcasts, I recommend a moderator to help take the pressure off of presenters.

The moderator provides order and continuity for the three essential types of presentations:
  1. Panel discussion. In this format, the moderator actively guides a discussion on the program topic(s) between two or three speakers. Short presentations are possible, but the focus is the discussion. Visual materials and case presentations are generally used to move through discussion points.

  2. Presentational. This format features one or two speakers who give an extended presentation, using slides, other graphic materials, props or video clips to visually enhance the talk. Each presenter can speak from his or her own “virtual podium.” The moderator may have a limited role in this type of program, serving to introduce the speaker(s) and facilitate questions afterward.

  3. Interactive. Viewers at multiple sites can participate via a multipoint videoconference. This system employs voice-activated video switching enabling groups at geographically distant locations to share information and have extended discussions.

Tips for Speakers

1. Think about what you want to say
  • Use an outline, script, 3x5 cards, or print out of slides
  • Organize your notes without much clutter on table
  • Use a TelePrompter if available to view your slides

2. This is not a formal lecture
  • Relax and act natural
  • Speak in your normal tone of voice
  • Introduce yourself
  • Remember to slow down your pace
  • Speak slowly and clearly

3. Establish rapport with the audience
  • Looking into the camera lens makes "eye contact" with your audience
  • They really are out there, even though you may not see them
  • Keep in mind your always on the air (on camera and open microphone)
  • Smile

4. Be conversational with others on panel
  • Interact with the moderator and other panelists
  • When presenting, talk to the panelists and the audience, not to your notes
  • Prepare the moderator with 5 “prompting” questions to ask you
  • You may want to “plant” a question or two in the audience
  • Stay engaged in the discusson, don't stare off into space
  • Listen actively and allow time for others to comment
  • Try not to do distracting things
5. Be aware of time
  • Start and end on time
  • Stick to time segments and cues
  • Allow equal time for participation
  • Give plenty of time for Q&A for each presentation

6. Use Graphics
  • PowerPoint slide shows can be effective aids but don't use as a crutch
  • Bring back up copies on an USB Flash drive and hard copy
  • Don't make it just a slide show, people will want to see you

7. Practice
  • Visit your videoconference room before the meeting
  • Be familiar with the room's capabilities
  • Always have your visual aids proofed by a Videoconferencing or AV team in advance
  • Always prepare a back up of your presentation
  • Follow recommended graphics guidelines
  • Request additional AV support for more complex presentations