We know that meetings around a conference table tend to get long and boring. So when these meetings are brought to the web, with everyone in their home workspace, it can definitely get overwhelming! With the ongoing pandemic, conferences and meetings on platforms such as Zoom have exploded, with an average of 300 million daily attendees. To help adapt to these new virtual meetings, here are some tips to keep your meetings on track, without having to wake up your colleagues every two minutes.
A good presentation starts with preparation
Before any meeting or presentation, you should check several important elements:
- Are the camera and microphone working well?
- Is the text on your visual aid readable? Have you written the agenda?
- Have you received confirmation of attendance?
Whichever software you use, be it Zoom, Teams, Meet, Skype, Facetime, or Messenger, you need to make sure that you and your coworkers know how to use the chosen platform. Take a quick survey to find out who is most comfortable with which program, and that person can help those in need. You should also check who will be attending the meeting and request confirmation of their attendance. This will save you from having to wait for someone who won’t be attending.
To verify that your equipment (camera, microphone, computer and/or phone) is working well, you can do tests before the fateful date. Call a friend or family member, and ask if the lighting is adequate, if the ambient noise is distracting, if something is too eye-catching, etc. You can remove any clutter or an outdated poster by simply adding a virtual background to your meeting, or blur what is behind you. This way, your colleagues won’t be distracted by any decorations in your office or lack thereof. In addition, if you’ll be using visual aids during your meeting (slide show, .PDF document, etc.), make sure that you’re able to present it, either through screen sharing or by sending it via email in advance to those concerned. If sending via email, make sure the format is correct and the attachment is not too heavy, otherwise, you can use sites like wetransfer.com, which allows you to share up to 2GB of data free of charge.
To make the presentation more interactive and, most importantly, less boring, do not use continuous text or excessive content. It’s best to keep it simple and to speak more. You can take notes that will be useful to you, but be careful not to read too much, long texts should be avoided if you want to continue capturing your audience’s attention. When possible, ask questions to your group, ask their opinions, or make comparisons. Also, take breaks for a few minutes when the presentation is longer than an hour. Invite your colleagues to make themselves a cup of coffee.
Once the material is ready for use, prepare an agenda or outline for the presentation. This way, the people present will not be surprised as you transition between sections, and this will avoid misunderstandings. Again, do not hesitate to ask questions to your attendees to ensure the content was understood, or to see if anyone has any questions. This will also help indicate whether they’ve been listening to your presentation, and if there is a technical issue, they can tell you what they may have missed.
Speaking to a camera can be difficult sometimes. Most of us tend to find it weird to speak alone in front of our phones or computers, but it’s important to be as natural as possible. Speak slowly and try to relax, because if you are nervous your message will be much more difficult to understand and digest. You are not alone in this situation, and the people with you in this presentation may not be very comfortable either. Try to come up with a light and general topic of conversation to break the ice, such as a hot news item, anecdotes from your weekend, or statistics on your topic that you recently found. This will help you see if the hardware is working, and also help make everyone feel comfortable. You will then be able to get to the heart of the matter much more easily and effectively.
Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with us to get some more valuable advice on how to make your presentations anything but boring!