Study Guide

Your path to great online presentations and presentation skills begins with knowing:

  • Yourself
  • Your Audience
  • Your Tools
  • And Your Targeted Messaging

It may be easy to throw up a Powerpoint presentation and just read off the slides, but the most impactful presentations come from a long, difficult journey to finely hone your skill. All presentations, however, are a process that settles into certain steps.

Step 1: Begin with your strengths and weaknesses. Great online presentations and in-person presentations, for that matter, all hinge around the speaker: you. The key to becoming a presentation expert is assessing your strong attributes and your weaknesses and asking others to help. Create a list of questions, like those below, that will help you strengthen the good things and the bad to become a better speaker all around. What do you like most about my presentations? What are your impressions before I even begin talking? How do you feel about my voice? Anything I can improve? Any feedback on my body language? What can I do better? Use this feedback to create a comprehensive list of things you can work toward in your quest to become a great online presenter in webinars, online meetings, webcasts and even video blogs.

Step 2: Assess your audience. Your audience is almost as important as your own skills as a presenter. If you have the wrong people in the audience, your message — no matter how great — will fall onto deaf ears. But if you have the right people in the audience, you can gently massage your message into greatness. Before your next online presentation, try the following pre-meeting tasks:

  1. Carefully select the invitees by sorting them into types. This can be done in many ways: by industry, role, social standing, location and more. When this is done, research the pain points, images and language associated with that group.
  2. Send out a pre-presentation survey asking them some targeted questions you have while creating your presentation. This will help you tweak the presentation to meet their needs — and maybe even sort the types even closer.
  3. Connect with your attendees via social media. This will help you dive deep into their interests, pain points, dislikes and vital corporate feedback.
  4. Identify their technical connection abilities. This will help you in Step 3.

Step 3: Find the right tools for the online presentation. With today’s online presentation tools, virtually every possibility is at your fingertips. And while that helps us once we get into the presentation environment, it’s often difficult to figure out exactly what you need and what online meeting tools could make your presentation even more effective than simple Powerpoint slides.

  1. Determine the online presentation room style that works best for your presentation. A couple ideas:
    1. Webinar: Large virtual room, 20+ guests, one or multiple speakers
    2. Video Meeting: Small virtual room, 15 guests or less, very conversational and collaborative
    3. Product Demonstration: Medium-size virtual room, 100 guests or less, multiple presentations including showing the actual product itself
    4. eLearning or Training: Medium-size virtual room, 40 guests or less, multiple presentations, 1-5 speakers, testing capabilities
    5. Webcast: Large virtual room, 100+ guests, 1 speaker, attendees needed to manage traffic and start time

    *** For maximum presentation effectiveness, webcam or high-quality video should always stream to show the speaker talking. Choose a presentation tool that makes live, high quality video a priority.

  2. Reach out to a PGi Meetings Expert to find the best online presentation tool — webcast, video conferencing, web conferencing, eLearning, etc. — that meets your unique needs. That’s the easy part – let them do the work for you. Or research online meetings options online here.

Step 4: Carefully craft your message and visuals.Your message, when combined with personal presentation acumen, the right audience and great online presentation tools, is the core to giving a great presentation. And while we can’t craft the message for you, here are a couple presentation ideas to keep in mind:

  • Give yourself 10 minutes of wiggle room for overrun and Q&A, but still keep the presentation short and sweet.
  • If you’ve given this presentation before, poll previous attendees to learn what was and wasn’t effective.
  • Use powerful language, but keep it at the 10th grade level. Too much flowery talk or big words lowers your credibility.
  • Always use colorful, powerful visuals in your presentation — multimedia, if possible.
    For a great video to help you use powerful visuals, watch this Learning Space video.
  • Use great presentation tools, like SlideRocket and Prezi, to make your slides even more powerful.
  • Look straight into the camera to keep your online meeting attendees focused on what you’re saying and develop trust.

This study guide is just the beginning of a lifelong journey to becoming a great presenter. Online presentation tools give you a wonderful opportunity to reduce your costs, reach more people and integrate powerful technology to make your presentations visually appealing and even on-demand after the fact. What presentation tips do you have for online presenters? Any tools work great for your business? What was your best webinar experience — as a presenter or guest?