Teleseminar Etiquette For Presenters

It’s a well-known “given” that once in a while, a caller to your teleseminars is going to bother everyone else on the call. It’s up to you to head these off at the pass in order to make your event enjoyable, educational and memorable for the right reasons.

You don’t want someone thinking, yeah, I went to his call, and he couldn’t control that jerk with the barking dog. This will cut down on your audience, most assuredly. You also don’t want your call-in group to feel left out if you allow one caller to monopolize you with only their own questions.

The presenter is the number one leader of the call. You need to be familiar with how the conferencing service works so you can utilize all of its features, as needed. You also need to be able to explain any features your callers might need to use.

Most notably, that would be how to mute out. Tell them at the start of the call how to mute themselves out, as well as how to get back in for questions later, if you plan to have a Q & A session.

The other thing you may need to do is a “mass mute out,” also called presentation mode, or lecture mode. This quiets everyone so you don’t have individual hecklers or beginners taking over.

It also prevents someone’s background noises from ruining the call. Of course, you need to be mindful of your own background issues as well. Sequester yourself in a quiet room if you are at home, put a do not disturb hanger on your door if you’re at a hotel, and keep a glass of water handy to wet your whistle as needed so you don’t sound like a frog.

If you are having any health issues, you might also want to keep some cough drops around to soothe your throat and prevent coughing, sneezing or a raspy voice. You will feel more comfortable, too.

It’s essential to learn how to use your conferencing service’s features. I have attended many calls where the presenter became flustered when something didn’t work. In many of those cases, knowing the codes or the service’s methods to do certain things, like start the recording feature, would have solved the problem quickly. Do a test call before the “official” call to familiarize yourself with these things.

The best way to start your call, whether it’s a teleseminar or a webinar, is to be sure everyone knows the drill: how to mute out, how to unmute, how to submit a question, and of course, all the call in details before you begin. Email your callers a detailed instruction sheet along with, or as part of, your cheat sheet, if you have one. And it’s a good idea to have one.

Also, it’s considered good form to be the first one to call in and the last one to hang up. It is somewhat common, but not polite, to call in late to a waiting and wondering crowd. You might be surprised to know what people say before you arrive if they have to wait too long!

At the end, if you’ve announced the call would be one hour, stick to it and say good bye. Remember, if this is a telephone event, your callers are on the hook for long distance charges. Some of them are attending your event because they want to learn how to make money online but may be broke already from trying everything out there.

Another consideration is the difference in time zones. Some folks may be across the planet and calling at 3 a.m. If they have to go to a job at 8 a.m., they need to get some sleep. Help everyone out by observing your own promises.

You Can’t See Their Eyes Roll: The Challenges With Presenting In A Virtual Environment

When you are presenting in person, you can constantly monitor your audience for engagement. Are they with me? Do they disagree with the plan I am presenting? Do they understand what I am talking about? If you see someone open their laptop and start checking email, you can call on them to participate or move closer to them to pull them back in, but what happens when your audience is on the phone? You don’t see them sleeping. You can’t see them working on another project and you definitely can’t see their eyes roll.

Another challenge in a virtual meeting is making sure everyone is participating. You typically have a few dominant people who take over while the quiet ones on the team sit back and endure another “waste-of-time-meeting.” There are a few things you can do to ensure your meetings and presentations are more effective when you can’t see the faces of your audience.

1. If your attendee list is less than 25, draw an imaginary conference table on a white board or piece of paper at your desk. Now write everyone’s name as if they were sitting around the table. (Yes, I know, you can just print out a list of everyone that is in attendance, but if you are a visual person the table works better.)

2. Now as you begin your meeting, you put a tick mark next to the name of the person speaking–even if it is your own name. Within a few moments, you will SEE who has checked out and who is talking too much.

3. Now simply say to the chatty-Cathy’s on the call, “That’s a great point, AND since we haven’t heard from Bob, I would really like to get his input. Bob, how do you feel we should proceed in this next step?”

4. During a virtual presentation you need lots of interaction. Lots of Q&A time. The challenge is when you ask a question and then call on someone, (i.e. So what happened on this last week…Bob?) you catch them off guard. You and I both know that Bob was reading the latest Dave Barry book so he did not hear your question. This is why Bob would quickly dive for his mute button and then ask you to repeat the question. WASTE OF TIME! Instead, call on Bob first and then ask the question. “Bob, what was it that happened on this last week?” BETTER!

5. On conference calls, use lots of colorful picture words to keep people engaged. “The five of us are in a run-down single-engine bucket of bolts at 28,000 feet and now we’ve got to work together to build a parachute or none of us will survive.” This is much more intriguing than “We’ve got a deadline and we’ve got to work together.” When you engage the brain, the rest of the body will stay with you. Try this, “I want you to imagine standing in front of our biggest customer, Katherine. You are starting to sweat…” This technique gets people to go where ever you tell them to and they are listening. “I want you to picture the top of a mountain…”

Remember that when you can’t see the faces of those in your audience, you will have to put a little more effort and creativity into your presentations to keep your audience engaged, but it is worth it. If they ARE rolling their eyes it will be because they are in awe of your SIZZLING presentation style!

The Three WORST Pieces of Advice Given to Presenters (and How Best to Ignore Them)

Ever hear the one about picturing your audience naked to overcome your fear of presenting to them? How about the one about practicing in front of a mirror? Anyone who has ever tried either of those well-meaning tropes knows how futile they are. Deluding ourselves that we can calm fears by laughing at our audience, or that we can convince them of anything by faking authenticity, is worse than a waste of time. It prevents us from using our greatest power as presenters: our true selves. Try ignoring the “worst advice” and substituting powerful communication instead.

Worst Advice:

Memorize Your Presentation

Now this one sounds reasonable enough on the surface. After all, much of our fear about presenting is wrapped up in our fear of looking foolish in front of others. Some of that comes from our fear of drawing a blank when all eyes are on us. If we memorize our presentation, that won’t happen, right? Perhaps, but what will certainly happen is that we’ll be taken out of “the moment” as we put all of our energy and attention on recalling the least significant portion of our presentation: the literal words. Suddenly, we’re not focused on the immediate reaction we’re getting from the audience or on making sure we’re connecting with them. We’re focusing instead on making sure the words keep coming. That sets the bar too low: surviving the presentation until the end isn’t your goal. CONNECTING to your audience is.

Instead: Know Your Presentation

Focus on the essence of what you’re presenting: namely your key messages. This is what’s most important for your audience to understand. If the worst happens and all of your materials and notes disappeared, how would you summarize what you came to say? Put those bigger ideas up front and build your presentation around them. Your audience won’t likely remember all of the supporting details, but they should remember your key points. Worry less about repeating the exact words you intended and more about making sure you’re connecting. If you see heads nodding, react. If you see puzzled looks, don’t just plow through. Stop and make sure you’re not rushing ahead of your audience just to fill space. Slow yourself down and make sure you really see your audience and gauge their reactions. Remember, no one knows what you were supposed to say, so don’t let a pause or different phrasing than you’d planned throw you.

Use a Lot of Bullets

For some reason, lots of presenters think they can take a long, dry presentation and suddenly make it come alive if they can just add enough bullets to the screen. Ever sit through one of those presentations where the bullets don’t in any way indicate an abbreviated point? Heck, they may not even indicate a point! Here’s the thing: TEXT ON A SLIDE IS NOT A VISUAL AID. There is nothing about text that makes it more understandable, or illustrative, than the spoken word, by itself.

Instead: Put the Visual Back in Visual Aid

Are there actual visuals that would help illustrate your points? Can you bring in relevant charts, graphs, photos, illustrations to help your audience “see” your points? If you must use bullets, greatly reduce them and the words you use. Your audience didn’t come to read and they didn’t come to listen to YOU read to them. (Hint: if you use punctuation in your bulleted information, you’re using too many words.)

More is Better

Ever sit through a presentation that’s a product of many hands? More detail, more slides, with the presenter intoning something like… “..and here you can see again… “ or “this is just yet another example of… “ Yes, you want to prove your key points. Data does help you do that. However, information overload may quickly confuse your audience and actually mask your key points.

Instead: Pointed is Powerful

Limit your backup points and secondary data to your “best stuff.” Ask yourself whether any given slide is necessary, why, and what might instead be moved to handout material. Remember, this is ORAL presentation. That means it’s necessary for presenters to pay attention to higher messages, with just enough information to lend strong support. Remember, you are the presentation, so stay center stage.