It happens quite often: a dynamic speaker is selected to deliver the keynote for your online event. But, the online presentation falls flat. The speaker, while quite dynamic in person, is used to making eye contact with the audience and gauging their body language. The speaker is not used to presenting online, where the audience takes the form of a webcam or video camera.
For insights and tips on online presentations, I sought out Terese Cooke Bottner, Online Presentation Coach with our partner, bXb Online. Here's our Q&A with Terese. Put me in, coach, I'm ready to play (today).
Q&A on Online Presentations
Q: Tell us about yourself?
A: Hi! I’m Terese Cooke Bottner, an Online Presentation Coach for bXb Online. As the youngest of seven, I became a master at how to get attention. I also have a passion for teaching, so I found the perfect career blend as a presentation coach and commercial actor.
At the age of 15, I started speaking competitively, got involved with theatre, and began singing for weddings as a side job. I have a Communications degree from Purdue University, and have trained at Chicago’s Act One Studios and The Second City Training Center. I began my professional career in public relations as an agency account executive and then a media specialist with the Chicago Board of Trade.
Fast forward to now, I have merged my experiences to empower presenters to maximize audience engagement through better physical performance, technology usage, and word choice.
I have coached presenters from an array of companies, including Interactive Intelligence, Young Innovations, Wells Fargo Advisors, Left Brain Right Brain Productions, Ovum, C.H. Robinson, and Walsh Construction.
Q: What is an online presentation coach?
A: An online presentation coach provides training specific to presenters who need to engage a virtual audience.
Q: What types of organizations should hire an online presentation coach?
A: The types of organizations that should hire an online presentation coach are those that have already invested in the online experience. They know, or are realizing, the power of engaging their ever-increasing online audience to educate, market, enhance their membership experience, and their employee relationships. Those organizations know the importance of providing their presenters with coaching to maximize their online opportunity.
Q: For presenters who are experienced with face-to-face presentations, what are the 3 key things to keep in mind when presenting online?
A: The 3 key things to keep in mind:
"The virtual audience is less forgiving and more discerning."
- Greet & Stay Connected. The online audience has to be welcomed at the onset and acknowledged throughout the presentation.
- Engage the attendees, not the technology. Interactive technology is great and best handled by a presenter partner who will follow the incoming texts and tweets. If the presenter is too involved with the technology, such as Prezi or JointSpeaker, they may lose both their online audience and in-person audience.
- The virtual audience is less forgiving and more discerning. Your online attendees will easily stop watching if they are not engaged, whereas your in-person audience may be inclined to be more polite.
Q: What's your favorite tactic to engage and interact with an online audience?
A: My favorite online coaching technique is to coach presenters to personify the camera. As an actor, the camera is always personified. If an actor looks at the camera, they have just invited that person or audience to be present.
Great actors go to great lengths to “characterize” the camera. They know the relationship, the objective, and have visualized a real person. When I coach online presenters, I have them write down everything they know about the virtual audience. The more specific the characterization the more engaging you will be as a presenter.
Q: What must internal communicators keep in mind when presenting to an online audience?
A: Communicating internally through online engagement is a great opportunity to create community, educate, and promote a positive organizational culture. Presenters for internal communication are catalysts. They need to lead and inspire, and encourage peer-to-peer interaction.
Q: PowerPoint or no PowerPoint?
A: PowerPoint has its place and can be very effective. If a presenter is comfortable with PowerPoint, and the deck is clean and sparse, then it will most likely complement the presentation and improve the online audience’s experience.
"Looking into the crystal ball, every successful professional will be skilled at online presenting."
Q: What does the future hold for online presentations?
A: Looking into the crystal ball, every successful professional will be skilled at online presenting. More and more organizations will rely on online presentations to engage larger or more specific audiences.
Everyone will know the power of online presentations to engage, inform, persuade, interact, measure, control a message, and perpetuate an event. The future of online presentations is limitless.
- Terese' post on the bXb Online blog, "Top Reasons to Improve Your Online Presentation Skills."
- Check out our XPOCAST product, which allows you to host online presentations for viewing on desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone.
About the Author
Terese brings a creative and effective approach to online presentation coaching. As an experienced and passionate communication consultant, she prepares bXb Online clients to deliver effective and engaging online presentations.
With experience in industrial and commercial acting, she is well versed in on-camera presentations. Terese has worked in the trade show environment and has a strong blend of professional experience. She holds a Communications degree from Purdue University, and has trained at Chicago’s Act One Studios and The Second City Training Center.
Terese has coached presenters from an array of companies, including Interactive Intelligence, Young Innovations, Wells Fargo Advisors, Left Brain Right Brain Productions, Ovum, C.H. Robinson, and Walsh Construction.