10 Tips For Giving Effective Virtual Presentations

Me, Projects, Strategy

What to know before you go live.

An illustration of a computer screen with messy notes and graphs around it.
Presenting online? Try these suggestions to improve your results. | Illustration by Tricia Seibold

As audiences go global and you need to reach more people through technology (including webinars, conference calls and teleconference), you must consider the challenges to connecting with a virtual audience. Here I pinpoint 10 valuable best practices to ensure you communicate successfully.

1. Be Brief

Audiences begin to lose attention after roughly 10 minutes of hearing from the same presenter. If you have more than 10 minutes of content, use interactive activities to keep your audience engaged (for example, take a poll, give quizzes, or ask audience members for their opinions via chat).

2. Be Simple

Keep slides simple — avoid too many words, graphics and animation features. Less is definitely more!

An illustration of a lamp
Light yourself well | Illustration by Tricia Seibold

3. Be a TV Personality

Look straight into your camera, not the screen. Wear clothing that is neutral in color (no plaids or stripes). Light yourself well and from above. Be mindful of what appears behind you in the background. Invest in a good microphone.

4. Be Standing

Even though your audience cannot see you, stand when you present. This allows you to stay focused and use good presentation delivery skills such as belly breathing, vocal variety, and pausing.

5. Be Prepared

Practice delivering your presentation with your technology in advance of your talk. Make sure all of the features of the technology work. Record your practice using the recording feature of your tool. Watch and listen to learn what works and what you can improve.

6. Be Assisted

Have someone available to deal with technical issues and to field email/text questions. Also, if you have multiple remote audience members in one location, be sure to pick one of them to be your “eyes and ears.” Ask them to queue up questions and facilitate discussion on your behalf.

7. Be Specific

Ask pointed questions to avoid too many people answering at once. For example, rather than ask, “Are there any questions?” try “Who has a question about the solution I provided?” Set a ground rule that people state their names prior to speaking.

An Illustration of two pictures of people.
Imagine your audience | Illustration by Tricia Seibold

8. Be Synchronized

Transitions are critical. You must connect what you just said to what is coming next when you move from point to point. Transitions between topics and slides are good opportunities to get people reengaged to your talk.

9. Be Connected

Imagine your audience even though you can’t see them. You can place pictures of audience members behind your camera so you can look at people as you present.

10. Be Early

Encourage your audience to access your call or webinar in advance of the start time so you can iron out any technical issues in advance and get them familiar with the technology.

September 26, 2016|by Matt Abrahams is a Stanford GSB organizational behavior lecturer, author, and communications coach.

How agile project management can save time and money

Home Page, Me, Projects, Strategy

A lack of focus on business objectives from the start of a project can make them drag on, costing both time and money. Applying agile project management is one way to mitigate the risk, argues Chris Maund.

Current approaches to project management are often thought to slow down business change. As a result, a high percentage of projects are seen as failures. However, it is often not the project management methodology that is slowing down the delivery; it is a lack of focus on business objectives or outcomes from the start of the project.

A while ago, I was brought into a project which had become so caught up in the definition of requirements that a year after starting it had still not benefited the business; in fact, the requirements document was still not signed off.

The project was in the financial services sector with an objective to meet a fairly simple piece of industry regulation, but every time the requirements were analysed, implications for lots of other processes and systems were identified and the scope was duly expanded. The project just continued and continued with more time and money being spent, without checking back to the original business objective. The outcome would have been an overly complex and overly engineered solution.

Employing agile project management

When we took over, we went back to first principles and went through the requirements, refusing to accept anything that did not add value to the original objective. In two months, we had the requirements document signed off and delivered the whole project in nine months, with multiple intermediate deliverables, each adding value to the business.

We call this agile project management, a concept that has been around for 20 years. It is nothing new, but it is most commonly associated with software development, so a lot of people think it is just for IT. In fact, the principles can be applied to a broad range of projects.

PRINCE2 and agile

The strong project management methodology, PRINCE2, is well known and widely accepted. The problem is, it is quite a complex methodology. Many people who use it do not understand how best to apply the toolkit. If you acted on all documents identified under PRINCE2, it could take years to deliver a project. You should only use the tools that are appropriate for the project you are working on – not every tool in the box.

In agile project management, you still use the PRINCE2 documentation set, report on risk and control spending, but you do it in a way that is fit for the purpose of the project.

It’s not just a sensible approach for companies wanting to save time and money on their projects; agile project management is becoming an imperative. All kinds of industries are facing disruptive forces generating from new market players, the internet and related technologies. Only an agile approach can deliver projects fleet-footed enough to offer rapid return on investment in the face of these complex and ever-changing demands.

And think, if you are not looking to disrupt your business model, your competition almost certainly will be.

This is an edited version of an article that originally featured in Raconteur’s Project Management 2015 supplement.

provide a GRAM of motivation

Me, Projects

There is a simple technique to getting the best out of your people.

Projects are a human endeavour. People plan, work on and deliver projects. For all of the technology and methodology, it is your team of people, and how they interact with the stakeholders around them, that is the most important contributor to the success of your project.

The big challenge many projects face is that they represent a disruptive influence on an existing culture. And, while that culture may not be highly productive nor deeply enriching, it is often comfortable for the people involved. A project can shake up cultures and present people with an uncomfortable challenge.

So, for project managers, the so-called ‘hard skills’ of scoping, programming, risk management and project control are barely the start of your skill set. These represent nothing more than the barriers to entry into the profession. The measures of your long-term success will largely relate to how you handle the human factors of project management.

It is worth examining what these human factors are. The best project managers put substantial work into their projects, from day one, in creating the culture that they need – whether it is stable, innovative, supportive or harddriving. At the heart of a strong culture is a clear articulation of a vision and values for the project.

 

These project managers support this with an unremitting focus on communication – with their immediate project team, and with their wider stakeholder group.

These processes establish trust and build the working relationships that foster true collaborative working. Last on my list is committing to developing the people for whom the project manager is responsible. Good project managers use the project as a vehicle for learning, skills development and building reputation.

A lot of this can be bundled up under the heading of ‘motivation’. Any capable project manager will have a good understanding of how to get the best from their people, day-to-day, through the ups and downs of a long, complex project. And there are two levels, first articulated by psychologist Frederick Herzberg.

People cannot be motivated by their work when they are actively demotivated by aspects of it. As a project leader, you must prioritise taking care of what Herzberg termed the ‘hygiene factors’. These are the little things that bug people. Fight for the conditions and the resources that allow people to get on with their work without constantly feeling ground down by frustrating peripheral issues.

Only when you have done this can you start to really motivate people. There are four big levers you can pull to provide a GRAM of motivation – a handy acronym.

G is for Growth. We need to feel we are learning and getting better at what we do. Set people challenges that allow them to increase their skill levels and feel that your project is a step towards a higher level of responsibility, mastery or status.

R is for Relationships. Our workplace relationships are every bit as important as those outside – they occupy more of our waking hours than relationships with family, friends and even life partners.

A is for Autonomy. When we do not feel we have su‰cient control of our lives, we experience stress. By giving control and allowing people to manage part of their own workload, we remove a source of stress and, therefore, under-performance.

M is for Meaning. Without a clear purpose and meaning for what we are doing, we find the ‘why?’ blocks motivation. Which brings us back to the need to create a strong vision and values that give your project meaning to the people involved.

How I can Help

Home Page, Me

Businesses sometimes struggle with the move to more flexible working practices and the IT challenges it brings. Working remotely on mobile devices, that access systems in the cloud, will become natural. Want to talk, call me, top of the page.

To ensure engagement with staff, you’re likely to need to provide systems that people want to work with.

I can help your business understand what IT platforms tools and services you could be investing in to ensure you’re not left behind in this ever changing world. I understand how IT suppliers & providers work and they sometimes struggle to meet the organisations expectations. Continue reading “How I can Help”