Build Your Leaders

Distance Presenting

As companies increasingly turn to video and audio conferencing in an effort to save time and money, more clients are asking for tips on how to shine when presentations are not face-to-face.

Unlike being interviewed on television, video conferencing participants should concentrate eye contact on the camera rather than on others around the conference table or in the room. If there are multiple cameras, participants should check the television monitor lights to ensure that they are facing the camera that is currently online. Also, while looking into the camera, it's helpful to visualize a friendly face watching from another site.

Anyone who has participated in an audio or video conference knows it's harder to hold people's attention than in face-to-face meetings. Two helpful tips:

  1. Keep your presentation shorter than a typical face-to-face meeting.
  2. Break up your presentation with graphics, interaction, reports, or video clips.

While video conferencing equipment has improved, most of it still suffers from slight audio delays. Participants should pause longer than usual to allow others to respond. Also, it is wise to wait a second or two before making a point or changing the subject to ensure that other participants have finished their comments.

Video conferencing cameras tend to exaggerate gestures. In order to look authoritative and not overly aggressive, limit sudden movements such as shifting weight or crossing legs. Also eliminate sweeping gestures including pointing fingers or extending hands.

Be aware of rolling cameras and open microphones. Remember you are "live." Avoid playing with your pen, swiveling in your chair, or becoming too relaxed, and use the mute button on your microphone whenever you are not speaking.

The same rules that apply to dressing for a television interview apply to a video conference:

  • Stay away from high contrast colors such as black and white.
  • Avoid reds; they may "bleed."
  • Select pastels over white (men, consider a light blue oxford shirt).
  • Don't wear patterned fabrics as they might "dance" on the screen.
  • Dress simply and avoid anything that stands out such as a broach, drop earrings or a wild tie.

Men should select medium-dark colors for suits; navy and charcoal gray are my favorites. Since women have more leverage on colors for suits, skirts and dresses, they should choose those color(s) that look best on them.

Finally, it's a good idea to visit the video conferencing room well before the meeting to ensure that your clothing doesn't clash with the room's fabrics or colors. Of course, how participants dress makes no difference in the audio or telephone conference.

Void of all visuals, the audio conference depends strictly on vocal cues. Conference participants should remember to:

  • Identify themselves when they speak.
  • Speak in a normal tone and volume.
  • Vary their speech patterns for interest; high-low, fast-slow.
  • Lower their pitch and/or increase volume to convey more authority.
  • Dramatically increase or lower volume to gain attention.
  • Articulate.
  • Stand up in order to think clearer.

Above all, whether participating in a video or audio conference, treat people as participants and not as passive viewers. Let them know you know they are out there.

For further reading, get communications guru Dianna Booher's new book Speak with Confidence. It includes an excellent chapter on audio and video conferencing.

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Copyright 2007, All rights reserved

The Career Engineer" Randy Siegel works with organizations to take high-potential employees and give them the leadership and communications skills they need to be successful as they rise through the organization. Purchase his book PowerHouse Presenting: Become the Communicator You Were Born to Be through, and subscribe to his complimentary monthly e-Newsletter at