By Tim Kubiak

Tie your tie, shine your shoes, stand up straight, know your material, engage your audience, make your point, be persuasive and win the business.  Sure, the list of what you need to do in any great presentation goes on and on.  In fact, what comprised good presentations skills and a great presentation in a traditional business environment hasn’t really changed much.  To be an effective presenter you have to understand what your audience cares about, have a tailored, compelling message, speak clearly, be personable, and all the other things that you’d want if you were on the receiving end of the presentation.  No one wants a dry, high-school-teacher lecture where the presenter mindlessly delivers the same dull presentation to a new and jaded set of victims.

What has changed is the number of presentations people are exposed to and how and where the presentations are given; so take away the auditorium, the class room setting and the conference room table.  Today, people are locked into a home office, coffee shop, or cubicle.  Not only is the boss not in the room making sure everyone is paying attention, he or she is using instant messenger to ask about something not at all related to the presentation on the screen.

It is quite likely 12 or 120 people will be listening and watching your presentation from locations across the country or across the globe and they are less and less focused on you and your message.  Instead, they are doing things like instant messaging, hitting mute before the dog barks, answering the door for the delivery guy, picking up their latte from the barista, or walking through the airport as you beg and plead for them to care even a little about what you’re saying.  This is, as they say, the miracle of technology.   Most people are multi-tasking and ignoring studies that show recall and effectiveness diminish when they try to do more than one thing at a time.

So where is all this is leading? To hold people’s attention in a virtual auditorium, a presenter today has to be much stronger than in years past.  Here are some steps to put a little muscle in your virtual presentation:

1)      Be Clear.   Who is your audience?  If you don’t know, you shouldn’t be presenting.  Once you find out, plan your talking points to their subject area and interests.  Use terms and language they understand and can relate to.  Use examples to cover points that aren’t in their area of expertise.

2)      Be Concise. If it takes you 10 minutes to cover what you need to cover, then do it in 10 minutes and not 45.

3)      Be Confident.   Simply know your stuff.  You’re the expert, so act like one.

4)      Focus on your audience. Give your audience what they came to hear.  Use examples they can relate to. Focus on helping your audience with a particular problem or help them overcome a challenge.

5)      Keep things interactive. It is way too easy for people in cyberspace to go do something else.  Take polls, ask questions and ask for feedback.  Make the presentation a conversation using two- way dialogue.

Remember, it doesn’t matter if your presentation is in front of an audience, in an office, over the phone, or internet.  The same basic presentation skills apply.  But if you are using technology to deliver your message to remote participants, pay special attention to their needs, prepare a little extra, and use the technology to your advantage.  Stand out as a professional and not just another voice in cyberspace.