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Keys to Virtual Presentations

This Wednesday I’ll be presenting for the South West Florida SQL Server User Group virtually ( 🙁 – sad face cause I’d love to be live and in person in Florida right about now). – SWFSSUG

Doing virtual presentations add a bit of a “weird” dynamic as you can’t see the faces in the room and get a read/feel for things like:

  • Is anyone lost?
  • Am I going too slow/fast?
  • Is anyone asleep? 🙂

Here are some of the things that I try and do to help make virtual presentations run smoothly:

  • Use good equipment (high speed internet, good lighting, professional microphone, HD camera)
  • Clear all distractions (no Twitter, phone, dogs, family, etc)
  • Periodically ask if there are any questions/concerns/too fast/too slow
  • Print the slide deck w/notes on hand
  • If you’re making video of yourself available try to appear as you would of you were presenting live (no housecoats and boxer shorts)

I guess this list really can be used for both physical and virtual presentations but I think the focus on making sure these things do not become a distraction are that much more important when you don’t have a “warm body” in the room with the session attendees.

If you have any additions to the list please leave a comment and I’ll be sure to update the post!

If you’d like to chat with me about this or anything else (SQL or other) please leave a comment or hit me up on my Twitter: @ColinStasiuk

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  1. Karen Lopez says:

    You will be wearing a toque, right?

  2. It’s December and I shave my head…. when am I NOT wearing a toque 😉

  3. Make sure someone in the room is manning the mic on the other end during the entire session. Frequently I’ll stop and ask the questions you suggest and then we have to wait while the people scramble for the mute button.

  4. ahhhhh yes. Good one!

    Nothing worse then asking a question and getting NO reply at all… you start to get paranoid that a connection was lost and if they’re hearing you at all.

  5. Shaun says:

    Virtual is tough, is there a way to have a camera on the other end so you can see the room? A two way video connection?

  6. Karen Lopez says:

    Have some contingencies in place. I usually log in on another laptop *as presenter* just in case my desktop chooses to not co-operate. I can then switch over to the other presenter device and keep going.

    I also have a third device (often another laptop or my tablet) logged in as a viewer. That way I can see what the audience is seeing. This helps with apps that are properly shared, time delays, etc.

    One final thing: practice smiling when you present. It shows in your voice. Try it.

  7. Rob Farley says:

    There’s a big difference between presenting to a group that has gathered with doing a virtual presentation where everyone is tuned in.

    Today I gave a talk to the PASS AppDev Virtual Chapter. There were only a dozen people on LiveMeeting. I used a whiteboard that was conveniently behind me. I got my usual response to jokes…

    I’m thinking of using Google Hangout for the next time I have a presenter who’s going to be speaking to the group that’s gathered for the user group. I figure that way I can put a webcam facing the crowd and I’ll see how it works. Being able to see the crowd counts for a LOT.

  8. Karen – I’m TOTALLY going to do that tonight! Love the idea of logging in on another machine to both see what everyone else sees as well as a “backup” just in case something happens to my presenter machine. FANTASTIC!

    Rob – I’m going to ask and see if the group I’m presenting for has a webcam that they can face to the room… I’ve had a couple people suggest that. I’d have to work with Goggle Hangouts a bit more before going down that road.


  9. Chris Wood says:

    Good luck Colin.

    I’m sure you will post here how it all went.


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