How a Pro Gives Online Presentations

By Heather Baldwin

Nothing beats experience. The confidence, perspective and skills gained from doing something again and again are invaluable. When it comes to online sales presentations, Jack Sands definitely has experience. As the CEO of Intrep, Inc., one of the most technologically advanced inside sales outsourcing companies in the world, he gives more than 200 online sales presentations each year. Along the way he has learned some valuable lessons. So, if you’ve got an online presentation coming up, consider these tips from Sands for making it great.

1. When you have more than one audience member attending the presentation, make sure everyone has broadband. Online conferencing providers will tell you they’re optimized for all types of connections, but don’t bank on it. Sands has found that dial-up connections lag and drag down the pace of the presentation. Sands calls everyone a day or two before the presentation to discuss what’s going to happen. During the call asks about connection speeds. If someone has access only through a dial-up connection, he’ll schedule a separate, one-on-one presentation with that person.

2. Recognize that there’s a slight lag between the commands you, the presenter, input into your computer and what the audience members see on their monitors, and adjust your pace accordingly. Sands sets up a laptop next to his desktop computer so he can watch the presentation as if he were an audience member. He controls the presentation from his desktop, and then watches for the slides to appear on his laptop. When they do he knows he can begin addressing them. To access the presentation from his laptop, Sands emails himself an invitation, which he then opens on his laptop computer.

3. As with any presentation, you need to have contingency plans. Sands’ laptop serves as a backup in case his desktop computer suddenly crashes. He’s also prepared in case his Web conferencing provider has server troubles. A few days before the presentation, Sands emails his audience members a copy of his PowerPoint slides. If the Web conferencing server goes down, no problem – Sands simply asks audience members to open the PowerPoint file. “I need to be prepared,” he says. “If there’s a server problem I’ve got two to five people waiting, and there’s no way I’m going to get them all together again.”

4. Some Web conferencing companies require users to download a plug-in. “There’s nothing worse than being ready to go when someone is still trying to download that plug-in,” says Sands. To avoid this scenario, during his pre-presentation phone call to audience members, Sands lets attendees know they have access to the presentation any time before it begins and that they may have to download a plug-in ahead of time. Doing so, he says, means everyone usually is ready to go at the scheduled time.