Ten ways to mess up an online presentation

Ten ways to mess up an online presentation

By John Foust

These days, ad professionals are conducting more digital presentations than ever before. While there are some similarities with in-person meetings, there are some significant differences. Let’s take a quick look at ten of the biggest mistakes in online presentations:

  1. Problems with technology. “Can you hear me now?” is more than a line from an old television spot; it’s a reality of many online conversations. As you plan the presentation, be sure to consider the meeting platform, webcams, and desktop-tablet-phone differences. It’s better to address those issues ahead of time than to be surprised when things are underway.
  1. Unprofessional appearance. Even if you’re presenting from home or an informal business environment, it’s important to look professional. While a business suit is not necessarily required, be sure to look neat. And don’t forget to smile.
  1. Camera movement. My wife had a recent call, in which one of the participants started walking around with his laptop computer. For several minutes, the camera treated everyone to jerky views of his ceiling and kitchen cabinets, all while he was talking.

For goodness’ sakes, keep the camera in one position.

  1. Distractions. We all know it’s not good to see someone fumbling with papers during a meeting at a conference table. That’s just as bad in an online presentation, because it indicates disorganization.

In addition, be sure to clean up your background, so it is simple and free of clutter.

  1. Hard-to-see exhibits and graphics. Advance planning is the key, here. If you display ads or charts, prepare carefully so everything will go smoothly. If you hold something up to the camera, make sure it is super-simple and in steady hands.
  1. Winging it. There’s a sneaky little voice in some salespersons’ minds that says, “Hey, you’re not meeting in someone else’s office. You’re in familiar surroundings, and you know so much about your product that you can make the sale just by talking off the cuff.”

Don’t listen to that voice. The only way to be at your best is to prepare and practice.

  1. Not acknowledging everyone. There is often a tendency to talk to the main contact and pay little attention to others in a meeting. That’s always bad manners, whether face-to-face or on a screen.
  1. Talking in a monotone. It’s not just what you say; it’s how you say it. One of the fastest ways to lose attention is to speak in a tone of voice that lacks energy and enthusiasm.

Put some excitement in your words.

  1. Talking too much. A remote call is not a license to “talk at” people. Whatever the format, a sales conversation should be a dialogue, not a monologue. Think of ways to encouragement. Ask plenty of questions and respond to their answers with respect.
  1. Not listening between the lines. Watch for facial expressions and listen for voice infections, just like you do in on-site presentations. If you don’t, you may miss something which could be a deal maker or deal breaker.


  (c) Copyright 2020 by John Foust. All rights reserved.

John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house training. E-mail for information: john@johnfoust.com