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Crafting Dynamic Online Presentations

Many companies have embraced web-based, multimedia tools as a way to deliver a presentation when they and their audience can’t be in the same room at the same time. There are now several complete multimedia presentation managers to choose from, able to replicate anything from a small “conference room” experience to an auditorium setting for classes, briefings, and demonstrations. Here are some tips for conducting an online presentation regardless of the technology you choose.

Remember, They Can’t See You

Techniques that work for an exciting and entertaining in-person presentation may fall completely flat in a web-based format. Unless you can be sure that both parties have compatible, glitch-free streaming video software, your audience won’t be able to see your face, or your body language.

Think of the differences that makes in a presentation. When you are creating an online presentation for clients, you need to add something to the presentation to replace the non-verbal information your audience normally gets from the way you stand, look, and the expression on your face. You must be much more vocal, more animated in your voice and expression, and either say or show the nuances that you would normally convey with a glance, a grin, or a gesture.

It’s a Lot Like Going from Stage to Television

On stage, gestures and expressions need to be “bigger than life” while in television, “smaller is better.” The same thing is true when you start re-tooling for an online presentation. A PowerPoint slide that was designed for projection in a large meeting room is far too busy, and too difficult to read on a web-based meeting client. You need to change your slides much more frequently, and instead of doing long, involved slide builds, think in terms of separate slides. One idea per slide is a good rule. This can also increase the visual appeal of the online presentation, and keep your audience interested in staring at a computer monitor while listening to a speakerphone. Keep your slides simple, spare, and visually direct.

Replace In-Person Interaction with Interactive Tools

In person, you can roam the stage, sometimes move out into the audience, make eye contact, and continuously interact non-verbally with your audience as you speak. When they can’t see you, all those mechanisms must be replaced. But online presentation clients all have built in interactivity tools to help you.

One of these is the “poll” feature. If you can think of a way to ask questions about something you’ve said, try using the poll feature. You’re engaging your audience, and you are getting the same sort of feedback that you would normally get in an in-person meeting from observing their body language, facial expression, and interest. These polls are easy to create ahead of time, and even on the fly, so use them to gauge how you’re doing as well as to create a deeper sense of involvement in your audience.

When you’re done crafting your online presentation, you will find that they have the same punch and immediacy as they do in person. You can even use them to replicate yourself, and be in more than one place at a time.

This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.

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