Touch Base to Save Face

By Heather Baldwin

When you’re planning an online presentation there’s almost no such thing as over-communicating, especially when the presentation involves multiple speakers, experts to handle Q&As, technical support folks and others. If you are planning such an event, make sure your plan includes a touch-base call two to three hours before the live event, suggests Stephanie Downs, president and founder of ConferZone, a company that tracks trends and technologies in the e-conferencing market. The call, she says, enables you to warm up everyone for the event, catch any mistakes in advance and help everyone be calmer during the live event.

The touch-base call has “saved me more than once,” says Downs. On one occasion she initiated the call to all the key players a few hours before the live event, but could only reach two of the three key speakers. After several calls to the third speaker, an analyst, she finally reached one of his colleagues who tracked down the missing presenter. “It turned out he had the event on his calendar for the next day,” says Downs. “If I hadn’t done the touch-base call, the event would have been a disaster.” Downs has caught other problems during these calls as well. In one situation she discovered someone had loaded the wrong slides. In other cases, she and her presenters have found typos, missing slides, slides out of order and similar problems.

Your touch-base call checklist will vary from presentation to presentation, but Downs suggests doing the following at a minimum. First, join the call 15 minutes early and brief your operator on your speakers’ names, the information you want to collect from the attendees, the introduction script, the flow of the event, how the Q&A will be handled, how your communication line will be handled and anything else the operator needs to know. Next, test all equipment, both main and backup. Walk through the flow of the event and have the speakers check that all content is loaded correctly. Remind everyone how the Q&A will be handled. Finally, give your speakers last-minute reminders, such as turning off their cell phones, turning off call waiting, having a glass of water available, having a printout of their presentation and any other reminders. Need more ideas? Visit