How to Create and Deliver a Great Online Presentation

By Heather Baldwin

You’ve always given your sales presentations in person but recently have decided to start doing some of them online using a Web conferencing service. Think it’s simply a matter of learning the new technology, loading up your PowerPoint slides and giving the same speech you’ve always given? Think again, says Peter Ryce, evangelist for Breeze products at Macromedia, Inc. Far from being an in-person presentation without the eye contact, online presentations bring a whole new dynamic to sales presentations. Here are some important considerations for the preparation, delivery and follow-up stages of your next online presentation.

Preparation. Sure, you still have to prepare your PowerPoint slides and the accompanying narrative, but plan to spend even more time honing your narration for an online presentation. The reason? If your speech isn’t clean and succinct, you’re going to lose your online audience members to the distraction of everything else on their desk – email, unopened letters, a report they’ve been meaning to read. “I’ve seen a lot of presentations where people kind of meander and the point of a slide isn’t really clear,” says Ryce. “Your audio has to be tight.”

Here’s another reason to spend some extra time preparing your narration: A tight, compelling presentation will get forwarded to other colleagues in the prospect’s organization, says Ryce, while a poorly-prepared, meandering presentation won’t. Finally, plan to personalize your online presentations, especially if you know they’re going to be viewed asynchronously. Start by saying something such as: Hi, I’m Sally Walker and I’d like to personally invite Acme Widgets to spend a few moments with me…. Adding the prospect’s logo, samples of its materials and so on are easy to do and real power lifters when it comes to holding the prospect’s attention.

Delivery. You’ve no doubt heard about the importance of interacting with your audience during sales presentations. It’s even more critical during online presentations when you don’t have eye contact with prospects. Incorporate interactive features such as polling and chats and interactive content within your presentations. For example, if you sell mortgages you might pull up a shared calculator on which attendees can enter information, the results of which you discuss together. Also consider delivering animated graphics, video and simulations, says Ryce. “You’re competing against other media people. If you’ve got something that’s engaging, it will be viral; it will be shared.” Finally, make sure your presentation is easy to access. “If you require prospects to download anything, it’s almost always a deal-breaker,” says Ryce. “It should be just one click and they’re emerged in content.”

Follow up. Here’s where online presentations really shine. In person, when the presentation is done, it’s done. On the other hand, when you’re done online the presentation’s life is just beginning. You can email your thanks to your prospects for their time and provide a link to where your presentation is stored online. You can incorporate the follow-up as part of your presentation by embedding links audience members can click on to print a brochure, sales sheet, your presentation slides or anything else they might want. For a call to action, you might provide a click-here-for-more-information feature or a link where all the viewer needs to do is add an email address and click the send button to forward the presentation to a colleague. Once your presentation is on the Web, your options are almost limitless.