Presenting in the Dark

By Heather Baldwin

Imagine giving a presentation in the dark. You can’t see the audience and they can’t see you. There are no facial expressions to read and there’s no body language to observe. You must convince prospects to buy your product or service based simply on your powers of verbal persuasion. Sound tough? That’s essentially what Web conferencing is all about. Sure, you’ve got slides to back you up, but when you have to persuade without the benefits of a face-to-face meeting, you’re pretty much making your point in the dark, says Ted Schrafft, president of Premier Conferencing, a global provider of multimedia conferencing and collaboration solutions. Schrafft offers these tips to help salespeople ensure their next online presentation is captivating and convincing.

Take control of the medium. Do everything in your power to control how your voice is delivered and received. Select quality equipment and use a headset or handset rather than a speakerphone. Eliminate background noise. And always conduct a sound check before the event.

Keep it simple. Make your point simple and concise. Use your verbal presentation to elaborate on points. Keep visuals pleasing to the eye and easy to read to maintain attention.

Speak slowly and with energy. Speakers often speed up when there is no one physically in front of them. And when you speak too fast you not only can confuse your audience, you’re likely to lose their attention. But speaking slowly doesn’t mean speaking monotonously. While slowing your rate of speech, increase your vocal energy about 15% beyond your everyday phone voice. Finally, use the same gestures and body language you would when presenting in person. If it helps, stand up when you present.

Interact with the audience. Remember, you’re presenting in the dark so you have to work doubly hard to keep your audience from drifting away. Keep their interest by using Web conferencing’s polling and Q&A features.

Use multiple presenters. This tactic works for two reasons. First, a different voice changes the pace and keeps the audience’s attention. Second, extra hands can type answers to submitted questions while the other person is presenting. This is definitely a case where two heads and two pairs of hands are better than one.