Virtual Realities.

Leading online meetings, large and small.

Like others within the food system (and elsewhere), you’ve probably already accepted the fact that your work life has become one online meeting after another. But how ready are you for those critical moments when your role shifts from participant to presenter? Here are some basics to keep in mind when that chair in your home office suddenly becomes the driver’s seat.

Best Practices, Regardless of Size.

Before diving into specific tips based on audience size, let’s look closer at several evergreen tips that apply whenever you present.

  • Be yourself (but make sure it’s your most enthusiastic self). Whether a presentation is virtual or face-to-face, audiences know when a presenter is all-in with the material and authentically enthusiastic in the delivery.
  • Beware the never-ending slide. Most presentation experts suggest spending no more than two minutes on a slide to sustain interest—and that’s even more important in a virtual world where listener distractions are closer at hand and more tempting than ever.
  • Rehearse early and often. There’s a reason that actors do run-throughs and dress rehearsals before going on stage before a live audience. Make sure you’re practicing your delivery and test-driving the technology to perfect your presentation.

Getting Big Results from Smaller Meetings.

Virtual meetings with a handful of attendees have their own challenges and opportunities. Here are some ways to get the most positive outcomes.

  • Let everyone (kindly) know who’s in charge. In smaller meetings, participants can feel more at ease interrupting and this becomes even more tempting in a virtual setting. Spending a few moments upfront spelling out ground rules for engagement can make all the difference.
  • Provide opportunities to engage—on your terms. The tip above comes with a caveat: Avoid monologues by giving participants frequent opportunities to ask questions or add comments—every three or four minutes as a rule of thumb.
  • Have a clear endgame. How you close a smaller online meeting is as important as everything that went before. Are there clear next steps? Does each participant know what’s expected once the screen goes dark? Going around the virtual room to discuss can help make that happen.

Captivating a Crowded Virtual Room.

Whether you’re presenting a webinar to prospects or leading a discussion with multiple colleagues, there’s no need to fear a virtual crowd if you keep these tips in mind.

  • Open with an attention-grabbing welcome slide. Why just title a presentation when you can use an intriguing photo or graphic that preps the audience while others are arriving?
  • Mute all. While this seems basic, it’s also essential. The last thing you need is to have someone’s dog barking over your most important points. And it’s easy enough to unmute when it’s time for interaction.
  • Use multiple tools in that interaction toolbox. It’s easy to think sharing your screen is the beginning and end of the technology tools at your disposal, but a custom survey or whiteboard session can keep things lively.

Practicing What We Preach.

Are you familiar with our Five in 15 webinars? Each covers a topic of interest and importance to agriculture and the food system—and recently, they’ve pivoted to a special Food, Farms & the Future series of conversations with food industry leaders.

In this computer-screen world we all find ourselves in, it’s more important than ever to make your next virtual presentation a highlight of someone’s workday. And there’s no reason to go it alone. Our extensive experience in planning and delivering quality content can make all the difference between a yawn and a “yes, just yes.”

For more insights on creative marketing solutions, contact Marcy Tessmann at marcy@co‑

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