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Speaking the Video/Webconferencing Way

By: Sheila Allee

Sheila Allee is a speechwriter and video/webconferencing presentation consultant with 15 years experiencing writing for executives in industry, government and politics.  Her client list includes Disney, EDS, the American Medical Association, BellSouth and New York Life. She can be reached at

In business, government and even family life, video and webconferencing are becoming increasingly popular means of communication. The trend has been building for years, helped along by equipment that is becoming more and more affordable. But use of this high-tech communication tool has mushroomed since the tragic events of Sept. 11 when professionals and others started drastically cutting back on travel.

In fact, according to one survey conducted by TeleSpan Publishing, some video and webconferencing providers have seen their business jump as much as 50 percent since last September.

So what are these relatively new communications tools and how can they be used effectively?

What is Video/Webconferencing?

Video/webconferencing involves high-tech tools that create interactive visual communication. The tools range from videoconferencing equipment to desktop computer monitor webconferencing systems. What all systems have in common are that they involve moving images and two-way interactive communication.

How do you Present Using This Medium?

Despite the distances between video/webconferencing participants, communicating in this way can be extremely effective. Because presentations and meetings need to be highly organized when they are conducted on the web or video, participants can often accomplish more and make decisions more quickly.

But it takes planning and special skills to get the most out of these communications tools. So the following are a few tips to use in putting together presentations and meetings that will be video or web cast.

Do Your Homework

Before the conference, find out the name of each participant and something about each person. This information is critical in creating connections with participants, since video/webconferencing tends to be an impersonal means of communicating.

Plan Ahead

Another essential is a detailed agenda that includes not only discussion items but a time schedule for each agenda item. Make sure all participants have a copy of the agenda.

Stick to the Schedule

In many cases, video/webconferences are held in facilities that are used by multiple groups. That means you may have an hour for your meeting - period. Then the next group gets the room. It's also important to stick to the schedule because you may be paying for the facilities by the hour and you don't want to go over budget.

Before the Conference

Prior to the meeting, set the stage and tone for the event by sending e-mails and making phone calls to participants. Ask for their input so everyone has a stake in the process.

During the Conference

Start out by introducing everyone and mentioning something you learned about them in your pre-conference preparation.

Once you begin presenting, get to the point quickly. Unlike an in-person speech or presentation, you don't have 20 minutes to make your case. Instead, make the conference more of a conversation. Speak for brief periods and then ask for feedback.

Avoid Talking Head Syndrome

Use as much energy as possible when you speak so you don't look like a bobbing head on the screen. Emphasize facial expressions and gestures and concentrate on vocal variety.

Room and Dress Codes

Avoid busy backgrounds and stick to a single color, like blue. White backgrounds can cause a glare.

Presenters should wear bright colors and avoid busy patterns. If you're wearing a white blouse or shirt, wear a dark jacket over it.

One Last Thought

Make sure you're comfortable with the video/webconferencing system before the meeting begins. Operating it should be second nature so you can focus on the agenda and interaction rather than the equipment.

© Copyright 2002, Sheila Alley

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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