Be more engaging with listeners in a teleconference presentation

When you can see your audience during a presentation, you can pay close attention to their non-verbal signals and gauge their reactions much more accurately than in a virtual presentation. In a teleconference call you know they are there but you cannot see their facial expressions, spot a hand raised to ask a question or interpret any of their movements that might signal tiredness or impatience. Participants too are challenged and frequently distracted. It is hard for them to stay focused and give their full attention to the call, to you and the content of their presentation when they are also missing the physical presence and stimulus of both of the presenter and the other members of the audience. Your listeners will need some guidance and encouragement from you to create a dynamic for constructive discussion. Outline the objectives and the agenda of the meeting in advance and at the start of the call. Consider giving participants printed copies of the agenda ahead of time so that they can follow along. Give participants the basic rules and guidelines for questions and their inputs at the outset. Use an agenda slide and organize your presentation and discussion into a clear structure. Make sure everyone is clear about any expectations you have linked to the presentation and what needs to be accomplished by the end of the call e.g. decisions to be made, next steps to be agreed etc. Summarise at regular intervals – this will help participants follow what is being said. Use rhetorical questions to link your slides and make your points as this tends to keep people alert....

Adapt your presentation style to compensate for the missing signals

If you are a regular reader of our Training Box newsletters, you will need no convincing about how important it for the presenter to be sending out the right non-verbal signals in order to make a positive impression on the audience. Non-verbal signals of course are about your body language (posture, gestures, facial expressions…). Interestingly, the voice also counts here as a non-verbal signal. By this, we are referring not to the words you use and the content of what you say, but rather to the tone of the voice.  It is this tone that enables you to convey emotion, feeling, passion, commitment, enthusiasm…all important aspects when it comes to being credible in your presentations. What you may not know is that when it comes to taking in information about what is going on around us at any given time, most people take in most of their information visually. In the average person, the eyes tend to dominate over the other four of the five senses of hearing, touch, taste and smell. In short and in general, we are more likely to be influenced by and remember what we see compared to what we hear. This is all extremely relevant for teleconference presentations. Because non-verbal signals (what we see) and voice tone have such a strong impact on perception, the presenter must adapt his or her style and compensate for the missing non-verbal signals and remember that voice and tone are even more important Here are ten crucial tips: 1.   Have a clear picture of real people in your mind  – speak to these people as though they were...

Telcon presentations ARE different

Ask any group of regular teleconference presenters about the challenges of presenting with screen-share and a sound only connection to the listeners  and they will all say pretty much the same things. Here is a sample of what they will tell you: It’s very hard to be sure people are listening and to keep them interested. It’s a challenge to engage with people you cannot see and get a reaction from them. Participants seem to come and go as they please and either all try to speak at once or just say nothing. Let’s face it, participants in a teleconference call could be doing anything, from checking their emails to cooking dinner and you would not know about it unless there were some tell-tale signs on the audio. It is of course practically impossible to police this as to some extent, it goes beyond your absolute control. Don’t just throw up your hands in despair.  Do what you can to provide the best possible framework for the call and the presentation with some advance planning and by sharing some rules and guidelines for everyone to adhere to. For teams who communicate regularly in this way, these rules and guidelines can should become practice. Advance planning for a teleconference Use a reputable and reliable service provider, making a reservation for the date and time of the call if this is required. Contact all participants and give them the date and time of the teleconference. Be sure to specify which time zone you are referring to – a critical point that is often overlooked! Issue any joining instructions / necessary links...

The importance of authentic communication

In this 2009 video Sheryl Sandberg, American technology executive, activist, and author reflects on the importance of authentic communication when it comes to being successful. In her view (and we tend to agree), your expertise alone will not get you to where you want to be. It’s how you interact with others that will make a difference. Here are some of the highlights from her talk: Great decisions cannot be made unless everyone is honest. There is no absolute truth – only a subjective truth, your truth or my truth. Stating forceful opinions and “being right” usually inhibits authentic communication. Sharing “your truth” and leading with belief statements is more likely to encourage authentic and meaningful dialogue. Authentic communicators use the active voice and take responsibility for their actions. Incidentally, what do think of the way she speaks herself? Do you find her authentic? We especially like the way she shares well-chosen stories, examples and anecdotes from her personal experience. This always helps to boost credibility!   The Training Box recommends: “Leading Out Loud: A Guide for Engaging Others in Creating the Future” (John Wiley & Sons, 2013) by Terry Pearce...

Conquer your nerves

It’s no secret that the mind – how we think and approach things – has a critical impact on success. Here are our insider tips for developing the kind of attitude, approach and thinking that will help you to conquer your nerves when you have to deliver a presentation or make a speech. 1. Prepare your content Being well-prepared has an enormous influence on the amount of free space you will have in your mind as you stand in front of your audience. Instead of worrying about what you are going to say, you can relax and focus on the task in hand. 2. Rehearse Don’t skip this important part of the process. Speaking your planned content aloud and trying out your planned movements, gestures, words, expressions etc helps to fix everything in place. Even without “learning” what you want to do, it will all seem more natural to you if you have walked through it in advance. 3. Check room and equipment Never take things for granted. Not checking and arranging things to suit yourself and the needs of your talk could result in on the spot fire fighting and damage control which will interrupt both your own thought processes and those of the audience. 4. Know your audience Analyse your target audience and prepare content based on their needs and expectations. Predict the kind of questions they might ask and prepare answers to the questions in advance. If you feel well equipped to deal with as many eventualities as possible, you are much less likely to panic and you will be more likely to stay calm under...

Positive, powerful ways to channel your energy

The fight or flight reaction kicks in when we feel nervous  about a speaking or presentation challenge. Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands as part of this mechanism. Essentially, nature is providing us with the energy and power we need for fast or powerful reaction. However, when that challenge is delivering a presentation or speaking in public,  the impact of the cortisol can be detrimental rather than helpful. Frequently, it powers down our performance instead of powering it up.  The secret to staying in control and being successful is to find positive, powerful ways to release the energy. Once you have identified where you would like to improve, follow our guidelines below:   1. Be grounded and plant your feet firmly As strange as it may seem, the key to using up excess energy is to stand still in one place (not all the time though, as explained below). Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, spread your weight evenly on both feet and adopt an upright (but comfortable) posture. Remain evenly balanced and resist the temptation to shift weight from one leg to another. This will make you look calm, in control and confident – the adrenaline can then be released in a variety of positive ways. 2. Movement with a purpose gives adrenalin a positive release It makes sense to stay in one place, holding your grounded position, rather than wandering about aimlessly. However, you can plan to change position throughout your presentation if and when it makes sense e.g. open from the centre, move to be next to the screen to explain your visual material...