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Women on a video call

 

The choice of how you lead a room can be a big factor in determining its success. How to lead a room normally falls into two categories; whether you choose to lead the room from the front as a presenter, or from the back as a facilitator. In this fully remote environment, understanding and executing the correct role is imperative to delivering value for a team.

As a presenter you are at the “front” of the room, whether this is physically or remotely. In this role you are pushing information to a group who need or want to hear the information you are trying to convey. It’s important to determine the role you need to play in advance to allow time to prepare. The diagram below helps determine the role you need to play based on the group knowledge and the direction of information.

 

Diagram showing audience type

This blog will be a deep dive into the traits and tips of being a presenter, to focus on some simple, tangible ways to help you lead from the front of the room in a remote environment.

As a presenter, your outcome is to ensure the audience is interested in what you have to say and come away with the key takeaways you are putting across. To do this, you should always make your message clear and relevant to the audience. However, when an audience attends a remote presentation, it can be harder for them to stay focused and engaged even if they are interested in the message, as there are more distractions.

Good presenter slideshare

Staying focused in a remote presentation can be challenging for an audience, but also for you as a presenter. With less visible audience feedback, it can be easy to talk about one topic for too long or alternatively skim over an important point. These are some key ways to make it easier for both you and your audience to maintain focus:

  • Share the agenda before the session for people to review up front and help them follow along during. You can add it to the invite so it’s easily accessible to all attendees.
  • State the main takeaway you are aiming to convey to the audience when moving to a new slide or topic. Stating the outcome upfront helps people concentrate on what they should be learning in each section.
  • Timebox how long you want to spend on each slide or topic, and keep a timer visible to you to make sure you don’t exceed your limit.

 

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Maintaining engagement is especially important remotely, as audience attention can wander more easily when dialling in. There are some very simple ways to help you sustain engagement:

  • Have your camera on so they can see you, this helps to convey body language, and ensure you look down the camera to simulate eye contact.
  • Ask your audience to have their cameras on to see their facial expressions. If they look bored or confused, consider changing your pace or alter how you are describing your content. 
  • Check in with the audience before moving to different sections of your presentation. Questions jog people out of wandering thoughts and re-focus them on what you’re saying.
    Try asking:
                      - Does this make sense to everyone?
                      - Is that clear?
                      - Are we happy to move on?

    Wait for people to respond, as social engagement keeps people on their toes and makes them attend more to what you’re saying.
  • Letting the audience ask questions is important, but harder to manage when dialled in. For larger groups, get the audience to input into a live chat. It is helpful to get a moderator to help you manage Q&As as the delivery appears more seamless and saves you scrolling through a chat.

As a remote presenter, the simplest way to achieve your outcome really comes down to promoting interactions between yourself and the audience through simulating face to face communication, asking questions and by making outcomes and key takeaways explicit to everyone throughout your presentation. This will help you deliver value to your audience when leading from the front of the room.

 

The talk below is about how to lead a room in a way that will make your meetings more valuable. It expands on this blog by going into further detail about the difference between a presenter and a facilitator and how to choose when to be those roles.

How to lead a room: Mastering the art of meaningful meetings.