Preparing Great Virtual Presentations

It is just a week before your virtual presentation, and you want to make sure that everything goes just right. Here are some items that you want to make sure you have on your checklist.

Send a Motivating E-mail Reminder to Participants before the Presentation

Keeping your future attendees aware of the event will help to build excitement for it. If applicable, remind participants why the presentation is valuable to them personally, not just to their organization. Ideally, you want the attendees to feel as though they get to participate in your virtual presentation, rather than that they have to do so. Playing up what they stand to benefit from it personally only increases your chance of this outcome. Be sure that your requests highlight what would be of value to them, not to you. This announcement should be more detailed than the confirmation. Include help-desk information for technical problems that may occur before or during the virtual presentation. Warn participants not to plan to call from a cell phone. Often the reception is poor, and everyone gets to hear the static. Finally, recommend that audience members participate in the presentation using a headset or a quiet room, so that they can concentrate and not disturb others.

Review and Refine your Presentation Materials

If you have conducted the virtual presentation before, take some time to refine the presentation based upon your prior experiences and to personalize the presentation to the attendees. Include their company logo in your presentation and handouts. Use terms that are part of their industry jargon.

Check the Room where you will be Conducting the Event
If possible, gain information on the rooms that the attendees will use. If several participants are located in the same remote site, check that the site meets your needs in terms of the size and layout, access to computers, number of chairs, and equipment in working order. 

As the presenter, you may use a conference room, a corporate office, or your home office. You just want to make sure that you have a quiet and private location to eliminate distractions. If you will be conducting your virtual presentation from a home office, place the dog outside and ask your family to go to the mall or a park.

Select your Wardrobe

Lean toward the conservative side. Wear neutral, solid clothing. Avoid stripes, plaids, and floral designs. Make sure that your clothes contrast with the background colors. Try everything on beforehand to ensure that you have not gained enough weight to make for a distractingly too-tight outfit. This is the time to learn that a shirt is missing a button or that you need to take a trip to the dry cleaner.

Build a List of Participants
Include participants basic job information, and distribute the list to all attendees. This will provide attendees with a sense of community and you with a vehicle for referring to participants by name and knowing something about them. Add more information about attendees as they introduce themselves, such as their company, department, position, and what they hope to glean from the presentation. 

Upload Supporting Materials
If your virtual presentation software supports uploading materials to a shared folder, upload everything that you intend to distribute during the session to the folder. Then you won’t have to worry about whether participants will be able to access the materials easily before, during, and after your presentation.

There is no substitute for rehearsal time. Each speaker needs to practice delivering her presentation aloud as if there were an audience listening. Rehearsing is the only way to work out timing, find the right words, and become comfortable with transitions and segues between talking points. Audiences can easily distinguish between a presenter who is confident, unrushed, and unflustered and one who is struggling with phrasing and pacing. When you rehearse, practice slowing down your speech. Most presenters tend to move too quickly and risk breezing by a key point. When you rehearse, do so using the computer that you will use for the presentation. That way, you will be able to recognize and resolve issues way ahead of time.

This is an except from “Virtual Presentations that Work”, published by McGraw-Hill and available from and other fine book sellers.