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October 2014 - Sharon Berman
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10 Things to Consider When Hosting a Video Conference Presentation

by Sharon J. Berman

Technology has evolved into a reliable and cost-effective communications tool, and video conferencing has become an increasingly popular way for attorneys to stay in front of current and prospective clients. Video conferencing contributes to business development on a global scale by allowing speakers to give presentations across different time zones and in different countries; it also adds a layer of complexity in that the attorney and client are not in the same room, a challenge that can easily be overcome by following these 10 tips:

1) Prepare a Backup Plan

It’s always a good idea to prepare a presentation ahead of time and practice it. Make sure you have the necessary tools to guide you, including the audio and visual components. Although nothing is certain, having a backup plan in case something goes wrong and a tech savvy person at the ready to address any software and/or hardware issues will help minimize any problems.

2) Location

To stay engaged with your audience, deliver your presentation in a place with as few distractions as possible. Always make sure you choose a location with minimal background noise, like an empty office or meeting room. Put your cell phone on silent and turn off any other noisy devices that don’t pertain to the presentation.

Because you may not have a choice as to your presentation’s location, talk with those organizing it in advance and see if you can steer them toward the most conducive environment.

     3) Arrive Early

Everyone knows arriving early equals good business, which is why it’s a good rule of thumb to arrive 30-45 minutes ahead of schedule. Doing so allows you to be certain everything is up-to-speed on the day of the video conference. Run through a portion of your presentation to see if the program is working properly. Check the video and sound by introducing yourself in a friendly manner and asking the participants to confirm they can see and hear you.

4) Watch What You Wear

Images translate differently on-screen than they do in person. For example, a busy, bright, checkered pattern could cause a headache and be very distracting to your participants. Stick to dark, solid colors and keep any jewelry small and to a minimum. Your appearance is part of your brand, so it is important to pay special attention to it when marketing yourself.

5) Movements and Speech

It can be difficult to gauge your live audience’s reaction and engagement during your video-conference presentation, since you are not in the same room with them. Make sure you know your camera range and how much room you have to move around. Since movements come across more harshly on-screen, be certain that yours are slow and deliberate. Speak strongly and clearly and direct your speech toward the camera. When asking and answering questions, pause so your audience has a chance to un-mute their microphones. Always repeat a question before you answer it, giving everyone a chance to hear it.

6) Have a Clear Outline

Give your audience an overview regarding the structure of the presentation and inform them of the learning objectives they can expect. Distributing handouts of your outline and any visuals in advance can be a great tool to prepare your audience and eliminate any confusion.

7) Use Multimedia

A picture speaks a thousand words. Therefore, instead of cluttering your slides with a lot of words, use pictures and/or videos to convey your point. If your audience feels they have to read too much, they will lose focus and interest in the presentation. The same rule for what you wear applies when designing your slides. Keep it simple with high contrast colors—white font on a black or dark blue background. Crazy font/background colors and patterns will draw focus away from what is really important.  

8) Less Is More

A good rule to apply while designing your presentation is the 5x5 rule. Five, or fewer, words per line and five, or fewer, lines per slide prevent clutter and make the slide look clean and professional. Slides are meant to serve as a guide for your presentation, not a crutch. Use the slides to enhance your points and color the conversation with compelling metaphors, examples, and data points.

9) Engage the Audience

It’s a challenge to keep an audience’s attention, even when they are in the room with you, even harder when they are distant viewers. Constant interaction with your audience ensures they don’t get bored and stop paying attention. Interact with them by asking open-ended questions. Work to include your audience as active participants, not passive viewers.

      10) Relax

Who you are is a huge part of your marketing brand, which is why it is important to act naturally and speak in your normal tone of voice. Treat the camera as if it were another person. Keep eye contact, smile, breathe, and be yourself.

Hosting a video conference can save a lot of time and money for both the firm and client. It can promote business development on a broader scale by getting your message out in a personal, professional way that is not limited by conventional means.

Sharon Berman is principal of Berbay Corp. Marketing and Public Relations specializing in working with law firms. She can be reached at