I have found that key concepts for a successful Live Meeting presentation include:

  • Relevant – Using each minute on the Live Meeting to focus on topics relevant to the presentation or the client
  • Prepared & Focused – Be prepared and stay focused on the topic requested for the presentation
  • Adaptable – Understanding the client’s areas of interests and adapting the presentation to target these areas
  • Professional – Prevent technical challenges and minimize them when the occur

The reality in consulting is that it isn’t always practical to have a specific subject matter expert (SME) available in person to provide a technical presentation especially when the SME is often working on a client site full time. The following are the high level lessons that I have learned (the hard way) related to how to successfully execute a Live Meeting when you are remotely presenting: (in order of when they need to be done)

  • Before the meeting:
    • Pre-Meeting: Arrange a pre-meeting to identify what the goals are for the presentation. This could be a presentation, a conference call, a Live Meeting, or just a discussion, but for the purposes of this blog article I will refer to it as a presentation. Get all parties to agree in advance what the presentation will cover. This pre-meeting should be coordinated by the sales person coordinating the call and should occur at least a few days before the presentation. The goal of this meeting is to have a list of specific items which the client wants to discuss, and details as to what would be a win for the presentation from the client’s perspective.
    • Staffing: Schedule the presentation to have at least three people from your organization: The remote presenter, the sales representative, and a local technical representative.
    • Preparing the remote location: Find a quiet place to perform the presentation with hard-wired Internet connectivity. Test the connectivity speeds at the location (www.speedtest.net) to validate that it will provide a sufficient level of connectivity for the presentation. Test Live Meeting connectivity from the remote site prior to the meeting to shake out communication issues or identify a different location to work as the remote presenter. If possible, test connectivity from the room where the presentation will take place as well ahead of time as these types network connectivity issues are extremely common and can completely incapacitate any remote presentation.
    • Booking the conference room:  The sales representative needs to determine ahead of time what Internet connectivity is available (wired, wireless, none?) and whether Live Meeting ports would be restricted or available. Have the sales representative book the room for the presentation to start at least 15 minutes before the actual meeting. The sales person also needs to create the Live Meeting so that they can use their laptop to show the Live Meeting presentation from their laptop, again, booked to start 15 minutes before the actual meetings starts. Coordinate with your sales person and local technical person to have them in attendance 15 minutes early.
    • Start 15 minutes early: Connect to the Live Meeting remotely 15 minutes before the start of the meeting. Use this timeframe to upload any PowerPoint slide decks, and/or log into demo environments to get them prepared before the actual meeting begins. Share the presentation itself and/or the demo environment. Do not share your full desktop on the Live Meeting (for reasons to be explained below).
    • Use PowerPoint to introduce: Even if you are planning a presentation using a demo environment use PowerPoint to set the overall discussion topic and the agenda for the presentation.
    • Avoid distractions: Shut off the distractions before the presentation. Turn off your cell phone, log out of email, put IM on Do Not Disturb (the only exception to this is an IM discussion between the remote presenter to the local technical representative).
    • Audio: Get a good microphone for your laptop if you will use your audio connection on it, or dial in via cell phone and connect to the Live Meeting, being sure to disable audio on your Live Meeting connection.
  • During the meeting:
    • Body language is lost: During presentations we learn how to read the room and learn from body language how the presentation is being received. Using this information we can adapt – either pushing forward with our current approach, or changing our approach if the room is becoming disengaged or is not interested in the specific topic which is being discussed. When presenting via Live Meeting (even with video links) the presenter loses this capability. It is very difficult to understand what is going on in the room when you cannot see everyone in the room and/or cannot hear all of the conversations that may be occurring in the room. Since this is the most complex topic I have saved this one for last. This is why it is beneficial to have both a local sales representative and a local technical representative at the meeting.
      • The sales person’s laptop is connected to an external display which shows the Live Meeting content on the overhead projector.
      • The local technical representative is tasked with reading the room and communicating with the remote presenter via Instant Messaging so that they can be fed information about the current state of the room. This is the key concept which is only viable if there is someone there to feed the information to the remote presenter, and a sales person who is displaying the Live Meeting on the overhead projector in the conference room. Since the remote presenter is displaying only the shared content (the presentation or demo) IM’s can be sent to them without them appearing in front of the group watching the presentation since this is on the sales representative’s laptop.
      • In a worst-case situation, a single sales representative or a local technical representative can perform both roles – by extending their laptop display and showing the Live Meeting on the projector and leaving their local display to provide IM discussion with the remote presenter. However, this is not the preferred situation.
      • As a side benefit this approach also provides a level of training for the local technical representative as they are involved in the sales cycle and contribute but they are not required to create or perform the presentation.
  • After the meeting:
    • Feedback & Improvement: Get feedback from both the local technical representative and the sales representative on what went well and what did not during the presentation. Use this feedback to make the next presentation even better than the last one!

[This was written while I was sitting in my car, parked on the tollway, stuck in traffic because the expressway was shut down. I just heard the police explaining that they are going to have us back up up one car at a time to get us out of this mess. The funny thing is that I had already guessed that’s what would be happening as this is the second time that I’ve been in this situation –several years ago, at least on a different expressway. But I will say there’s nothing like the experience of driving in reverse down the expressway. So… my ability to accomplish much of anything here is minimal but I’m still going to count this as a time multiplier. I suppose I could go walking for a while and smell the fumes and construction dust but this is a better use of my time than just sitting here wondering if I’ll get home before dinner is over (0 benefits per hour).]