Expert Panel

Focus on these things to succeed in Workplace Communication Skills

Planning for a Successful Video Presentation


Wherever there are large organizations, there will be meetings. People can accomplish in groups what they can't accomplish individually. Whether large or small meetings, participants pool knowledge and experience in order to make decisions that will affect the entire organization. Meetings ought to keep participants informed about what is happening within an organization in order to give everyone a common goal and sense of how their individual efforts contribute to the goals of the organization as a whole.


More and more meetings are taking place online. Videoconferences have the same goals and purposes as any other meeting, but they require some different kinds of planning and participation in order to be successful.


Tips for Planning


As with any meeting, if you are planning or presenting to a videoconference you need to have a clear understanding of what the meeting is supposed to accomplish and how to know when you have accomplished it. When conducting a discussion after your presentation, you need to give opportunity to express all viewpoints.


Conflicts happen. Instead of trying to avoid them, work through them. Several obvious but easily overlooked techniques help facilitate productive discussion: paraphrase what someone else just said before jumping in with your own thoughts. Ask for more information. Acknowledge feelings, both other people's and your own. That is, if you think someone else is frustrated, it helps to let them know that you notice and care.


It is best to prevent the group from coming to a definite conclusion too early in the meeting. That can cause members to censor themselves and withhold their own thoughts and reservations. The majority will not always be right. Sometimes the majority will settle on ideas that will cause trouble down the road. The Bay of Pigs invasion and the entire Watergate scandal arose from just such tunnel vision. If the leader makes sure that people have a good chance to express contrary views long before they may start to seem disloyal, disastrously bad plans become less likely.


Video meetings have many advantages for participants and the sponsoring organization. They present new and different challenges for organizers and presenters. For one thing, you are separated from participants not only by distance, but by an array of technology.


Other Preparations


Preparing for people to attend the meeting isn't as simple as setting up furniture and making sure the room is unlocked.  Regular meetings need a good sound system. Virtual meetings also need a camera and a crew to operate it, not to mention Internet connections so that people in remote sites can hear and see the speakers and visual aids, and then interact and participate in discussion.

Perhaps participants are sitting at their own desks. They each need to know how to log in to the meeting. Perhaps participants are sitting in conference rooms scattered across the country or across the word. Some one at each site must know how to log in and then test the connection so that the people there can see and hear.


A crew of technicians will help you broadcast live video to your audience using technology developed by companies like Blue Jeans. They will bear much of the technological burden, but there is still plenty more technology for you to learn.


Presenters need to remember to look directly into the camera to provide a visual connection with the people who an only see on monitors. At times, when a presentation is in progress, all communication goes in one direction. The speaker speaks, and remote participants watch and listen. All of the microphones at remote sites are muted so that no background noise at any of them will interfere with the transmission.


If the meeting requires discussion or a question and answer period, at some time it is necessary to make the participants' microphones live. Clearly each site requires that someone be present who knows how to control the technology so that it facilitates communication. Otherwise technical problems will simply get in the way and possibly cause the entire conference to fail.


But even if the technology works perfectly, presenters and organizers must be aware of how the technology that comes between them and their remote audience changes people's behavior.


People don't interact with each other the same way in face-to-face meetings and in virtual meetings. Background noise becomes more distracting. The narrow focus of the camera magnifies visual aspects of the background that otherwise people wouldn't notice, creating still more distractions. Participants are more likely to try to multitask, checking emails or otherwise not giving the presentation their full attention.


Therefore, a virtual meeting requires fewer agenda items, shorter segments, more frequent and perhaps longer breaks, and a slower pace. With careful preparation, however, it is possible to conduct a virtual meeting with results that are just as successful as a face-to-face meeting.


Do you emphasize your own opinions when you give presentations at work?