Tips for Remote Presenting | Beth's Blog

Tips for Remote Presenting

Remote Work

This morning Liz Karlin, who works at the Packard Foundation in Grant Operations, and I did a remote presentation for the Foundation Financial Officers Group on Organizational Change and Social Media Policy development.  I talked about the change in workstyle that is needed before codifying a social culture through a social media policy.  Liz gave a presentation on the process that Packard used to development its Social Media policy which is an important part of its an internal document called the “Communications Compass.”

There were some terrific questions and discussion.    I’ve included some resources along with the slides here.

Since the meeting was taking place in Los Angeles,  FFOG was graciously allowed me to present remotely with Liz Karlin.   For someone with a hectic travel schedule, remote presentations are always welcomed.    There is a huge benefit because you save time and travel money.   The down side is the potential for technology glitches and, of course, not being in the room to catch the audience vibe.    We got around those challenges quite well.

Avoiding Technology and Presentation Fail

If you are presenting remotely you need two things:  a robust Internet connection and a moderator in the room who can serve as a bridge between you and the folks in the room.     It is also helpful to have a back channel for communications with the moderator.

In the past, I have presented remotely using skype audio and video.  Sometimes it has worked swimmingly like this one with Amy Sample Ward in 2008, other times not.   Last year I audio-skyped into a conference in the UK to present with Steve Bridger.  We had a very reliable Internet connection.   Steve did a content delivery presentation right before and then brought me in via audio as a “cameo appearance.”   We didn’t have enough bandwidth for video, so he projected my photo.  I spoke for five minutes and then Steve served as the moderator and ask questions in the room and had me answer.   (Here’s a video)

For the FFOG meeting, we used webinar software and landline because we didn’t know how robust the Internet woudl be in meeting space and because wanted to avoid poor audio quality which can happen with Skype.    In the room, we had a laptop that was logged into a Webinar software projected on the screen so Liz and I could flip our slides remotely.   For the audio, we use a phone line that was fed into the AV system and wireless mic.   We had one person handling the technology and another person serving as moderator in the room.     We had planned our presentation to include content delivery and facilitated discussion – and it worked.

The other challenge is the lack of feedback from the audience.  When you’re live and in the room, you can observe body language and adjust accordingly.  I thought we could use the chat back channel but since there was only laptop in the room we needed another system for backchannel communication.  So,   I asked our session moderator to use her cell phone and text me updates while Liz or I were presenting.   The body language code was as follows:

! = audience is engaged (leaning forward in their chairs)
?= audience has questions or confused (puzzled looks on faces or raised hands)
x=audience is skeptical (legs or arms are crossed)
z=audience is falling asleep or bored (eyes are closed, they’re checking email or looking out the window)

It was great to get this feedback during the presentation and helped make it more effective.

My next remote apperance is at Blackbaud Conference on October 20-21st in Washington, DC as part of the keynote to be delivered live by Allison.   To avoid technology fail,  they had a video team create a video with me in Boston last week  — it is a reality tv meets Networked Nonprofit presentation, where I’m wondering around Boston in the rain and conservationally giving talking points.   During the presentation, I’ll be on the Twitter back channel following the #netnon hashtag from the Independent Sector Conference in Atlanta.  Talk about multi-tasking.

What advice do you have for remote presenting?

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9 Responses

  1. Nina Simon says:

    When I give remote presentations on video, I like to introduce silly props–hats, figurines, animals–who make sudden, undiscussed appearances throughout the talk. It keeps people engaged, makes it more playful, and lets me replace the impersonality of the remote connection with a more personal engagement than I would feel comfortable offering in person. Once I told people I’d put on a different hat for every question asked – that was very popular.

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  3. Hathaway says:

    Thanks for this interesting article and tips. Presentations are a big part of my job and I want to share my experience about remote presentations. Most of all I share my mind maps and projects (I use Conceptdraw software
    I show my presentations via Skype, it works easy and fast irrespectively the internet speed. All the participants can view and discuss in same time. Priceless.

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  5. I drop a comment when I like a article on a site or if I have something to add to the conversation. It is triggered by the passion communicated in the article I browsed. And on this post Tips for Remote Presenting | Beth’s Blog. I was actually moved enough to leave a thought 😉 I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Is it just me or do some of the responses appear as if they are written by brain dead individuals? 😛 And, if you are posting on additional online social sites, I’d like to keep up with anything new you have to post. Could you make a list every one of your public sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  6. That’s a very creative idea about getting someone in the room to tell you how your remote audience is responding. I’ll have to think about how to apply that to my situation.