Last year was one of intense adaptation. This year will likely see that continue, but it is also beyond time for us to fine tune. That includes best practices for virtual presentations.
TOP 5 VIRTUAL MEETING TIPS
With virtual meetings more prevalent than ever, you need to maximize user experience
By Michael Wayne
Just prior to the start of the new year, a friend of mine and I were discussing a variety of topics. Somewhat unsurprisingly, politics, the pandemic, and premiums entered and exited the conversation. At one point, I looked at him and rhetorically asked whether there were people who genuinely believed that all of the craziness would simply be gone at the stroke of midnight. I knew that wasn’t going to happen and so did he.
At the same time, however, the feelings of optimism that accompany the sound of fireworks were beginning to well. Watching and hearing the pyrotechnic displays in my neighborhood, I couldn’t help myself—2021 was absolutely going to be different.
Somehow, the spirits turning the calendar page seemingly misinterpreted the meaning of Auld Lang Syne. Instead of harkening back to days of past goodness, they simply reset the clock to the start of a time when we only needed two weeks to “flatten the curve” and enhanced it with a dash of extra crazy.
“Technology can be fickle, finicky, and unforgiving. Setting up a virtual meeting at the last minute is absolutely a recipe for disaster. … Consider all the logistics in advance.”
For nearly a year now, the insurance industry has been on a roller coaster. COVID restrictions, natural disasters, and social uprisings have rocked communities. Friends and colleagues have found themselves at odds because of personal beliefs and as some voices get louder in public-sphere, others are silenced, their speakers cancelled for better in some cases and worse in others.
Marketwise, cases arguing that COVID’s impacts constitute physical damage are multiplying, and courts are increasingly ruling in agreement. Through all of this, we still have to find ways to generate business and enhance our books.
In all likelihood, even with vaccines being administered, it appears that we are still due to operate under the auspices of a multitude of restrictions for some time.
Beyond fine tuning
Last year was one of intense adaptation. This year will likely see that continue to a degree, but it is also beyond time for us to fine tune. That includes best practices for virtual presentations. If you have been using online platforms for meetings and presentations, you’ve likely figured out what’s missing from in-person meetings—a mostly uninterrupted presence, the ability to read body language in full, and interpersonal trust, just to name a few. Online meetings do still have the in-person benefits of engagement, some non-verbal cues, and a clear—albeit electronic—connection that allows us to put faces to names.
Since virtual meetings are more prevalent than ever, here are the Top 5 tips to maximize your clients’ and prospects’ experience with you.
1. Eliminate distractions. With exceptions, we are hosting meetings with prospects and clients from the comfort of our homes. For those who are doing so from actual office spaces, most of this is applicable. We get extremely comfortable in our personal environments. The drawback, from a presentation perspective, is that we may be completely at ease with—or flat-out blind to—our surroundings.
Whether it be kids, pets, a faulty light that you are used to, your spouse, risqué posters, or anything else that could steal the spotlight from you and interfere with your messaging, make sure that it is off camera, out of your line of sight, and out of earshot. This is supposed to be your time to shine. Additionally, a distraction could cause a prospect or client to forget to ask you a question or provide you with vital information that could make all the difference between winning business or losing it.
2. Test your presentation and internet connection. Technology can be fickle, finicky, and unforgiving. Setting up a virtual meeting at the last minute is absolutely a recipe for disaster. That includes everything from the actual presentation that you have put together to the hardware and software being used to deliver that presentation to prospects or clients.
Are your slides correct? Have you rehearsed what you are going to say and prepared for possible questions? Is your meeting properly set up and are links that you provided live and ready to go? Is the Wi-Fi on, or do you have a working network connection? Consider all the logistics in advance.
3. Involve your audience. At this point, many prospects and clients have had to sit through more online meetings than they can count. Many of them are fatigued, and paying attention for the duration of another meeting, especially for something that isn’t what they would consider exciting, can be a bit of a chore. Make sure the meeting isn’t all about you. You should be interacting, not vomiting information, numbers, and figures that few individuals would be able to retain.
4. Use inflection. If you appear and sound bored with the content, why would anyone else pay attention to what you are saying? Why would they trust you to provide them with the service they expect? In all likelihood, they won’t in either regard. You are the expert. Often, we promote what we do as the means for allowing businesses and others to focus on their passion. Insurance is supposed to be your passion. You need to show that.
5. Make your presentation visually appealing. If you are on a call that is strictly face to face, the most important thing is to make yourself look presentable. Keep in mind that the lighting in your room can play a big role in that. If you are in a situation where you are sharing your screen and have slides of some sort, don’t throw up walls of text and expect the viewer to be immersed. Even if you have minimal text and the most visually appealing slides ever committed to a presentation, your slides cannot be stagnant. Compose your slides so that they have movement. If you need help, there are multiple services that exist and can help provide your templates with animations.
Attention spans are short. Keep things engaging.
Michael Wayne is a freelance insurance writer.