(This blog is the 15th and final part in a 15 part series titled ‘Definitive Guide to Making Killer Sales Presentations’. Sign-up now to be the first to receive the full-fledged guide.)
Although more and more meetings and presentations are moving towards the web, the internet is not making the salespeople obsolete, infact it is making them even more important as per this Inc magazine article.
Following chart from this MakingProjectsWork.co.uk whitepaper points out the situations where virtual meetings are the best solution.
Apart from finding the most relevant people online to pitch to, it is important to understand how to best present online as what works face-to-face may not work on the web where you’re essentially staring at a screen. It may not be possible to understand if the audience is getting bored at the other end or is distracted with some other work. The other challenge one needs to overcome is to figure out what is the prospect interested in as they may not open up that easily to your prospecting questions if they’re online or on phone. It is rather easier to trust a live human than an image on a screen.
So what can we do?
Follow these basic guidelines.
Set up some basic ground rules:
Before the start of the presentation, it is important to set expectations and let people know that any activity which allows one or others to disengage from the presentation is highly discouraged and in order to make it happen you would need their help.
Start with making a name call if the participants are less than 10 in number. This grabs their attention from whatever they were doing to this presentation and ensures their mental presence during the course of the presentation. Ask them to shut down all redundant applications, put their phones, tablets on silent and preferably aside for the duration of the presentation and take a quiet room. Also ask them to take any necessary phone calls, IMs, emails, visits to the washroom or water coolers so that they keep such things to a minimum during the duration of the presentation.
Give 5-10 mins and wait patiently to let everyone finish whatever task they were doing. Setting 5-10 mins purposefully to let people finish their tasks forces them to actually do it.
Also, it is a good idea to let them know at this stage itself some etiquette while participating in online discussions to avoid making a mess. One person speaks at a time. If you have to speak start by saying your name, so we know who’s speaking and once you’re done with your comment, question, feedback, remark, end with a ‘thank you’, so others know that they have finished speaking.
Make sure people know why a meeting is relevant:
This is a common issue when hosting online presentations. The host just marks everyone remotely related to attend the presentation either due to lack of insight on what type of people to invite or due to laziness. Decide on who this presentation benefits the most and Invite the right people. Set forth the agenda beforehand and tell attendees exactly what that meeting is about and give them an option to make an exit if they still feel it is not relevant to them.
Keep it short and stick to the agenda:
Sometimes an audience member would ask a question and the discussion just veers off in a totally different tangent which bores other people off. In such scenarios, it is best to take such discussions offline and focus on the agenda originally intended. Always start and end on time. It is also a good practice to tell beforehand that you would spend 5 mins on topic 1, 15 mins on topic 2, another 10 mins on topic 3 and last 15 mins on Q ‘n’ A. This allows people to plan their time better and they can choose to skip a particular section should they wish to.
Keep it interactive:
Allow interaction of some form every 10 minutes to keep the energy levels in the meeting up. Build interactivity as part of your presentation in the form of questions, polls, feedback, visiting a webpage, comment etc. You can also take turns speaking. A little variation is always good. You can also define roles for different people in the presentation so that they pay more attention to what’s happening. Roles like scribe, time-keeper, facilitator etc.
Make it easy for your audience to listen to you:
Sometimes smallest of things can disengage a participant. Things like taking notes or asking someone to reiterate what was just said can derail the thought process for even the interested participants. A great way to avoid this from happening is telling your participants in advance that you would be sharing the meeting notes or presentation material with them later on. Also, from time to time, recap or summarize the topics discussed in the last 20-30 minutes. New participants get an instant summary of what has happened so far and are able to start from the middle whereas the existing participants get a recap of things and know if they missed anything.
Test drive all your technology:
Often the most overlooked details can get us in the end. Relying too much on technology working on the day of the presentation is inviting unwanted trouble. Test out all your equipments and if possible your audience’s equipments before the d-day. See if they work on your and their bandwidth. Does any device need a special software download to make it work? What if some participants decide to join from their mobile or tablet devices? Are there any restrictions to join the virtual meeting like passwords, accounts, meeting IDs, conference call-in numbers? Is everyone familiar with all the above? If not, what’s your backup plan?
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