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More and more companies are using virtual collaboration software to demo their product or conduct discovery meetings.  How many of you agonized over your slides to get the looking perfect but guy-sleepingforget to work on how to verbally engage in your demo?  I’ve been doing virtual meetings waaaay before there was a WebEx or Skype.  One of the hardest parts of this type of communication is getting the audience or listener to respond to your information.  Yes, I know some of these application have great built-in polling and question tools, but that’s not going to get your audience really engaged so how do you do this?

Here are some tips that will enable you to keep your audience engaged during your next virtual demo:

  1.  If it’s a smaller group under  10 at the beginning of the presentation ask each person what they hope to walk away with from your presentation.  Then tailor your information to these responses.  At appropriate times, go back to one of these responses and ask the person to elaborate more on what they were hoping to get out of your presentation or refer to them during a certain point of your delivery that is relevant to their request and have a discussion with them about this.
  2. Decide upfront if you are going to allow audio interactions or just messaging interactions.  Depending on which one– to get the group comfortable with your delivery tool, I like to play a game that is used quite a bit for Improv groups.  The one-word sentence game.  Tell the group that you’d like to get them used to responding to you using this game.  The group will build a sentence by each person you randomly call out to provide one word.  If they are all speaking, just start it off by saying “once” and then calling out another person’s name to contribute the next word and so-on.  If you are having them respond via text, do the same thing, you start off by typing the word “once” and then calling out random names one at a time to build your sentence.  Tell them there are not rules and it can be any type of sentence.  Try doing 3 rounds and then asking the group which one they felt was the best.  It’s a great ice-breaker and gets your audience comfortable with responding to you.
  3. At the beginning assign random numbers to each of your attendees.  There is a fun free tool that will let you select the range of how many random numbers you want to quickly assign these to your participants.  Then at any point during the presentation, select one of the randomly assigned numbers to post a question to them.  This will keep the audience on their toes because they won’t know when they will be called on and will be less likely to be checking their email while you are talking.
  4. PLEASE practice delivering our demo with others!!  I can’t stress this enough.  Nothing will lose your audience faster than technical issues that you didn’t foresee.  Ask for volunteers who are not in the same room or even the same company.  Many times when you think things are going smoothly someone either can’t hear or see what you are doing.  Preparation is key.  If you can put up a dual monitor so you can be logged in as a user on one screen and a presenter on your main screen.
  5. Prizes and more!  Turn your presentation into a competitive game but awarding points for how many times someone raises their hand to a yes/no question you ask, how many times they respond to chat questions or ask a verbal question.  Award the prize at the end and deliver it immediately such as a gift card or virtual coupon.


The tools we have available to us today make it really convenient to deliver great information virtually but we need to make it more enjoyable.  I hope some of these tips help improve your next virtual presentation.