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June 16th, 2022

Discover the Tips That Expert Presenters Rely on Most


Kathy Steele

CEO at Red Caffeine


Rob Johnson

President at Rob Johnson Communications

Rob Johnson (President, Rob Johnson Communications) joined Tom Latourette (Managing Partner, M3 Learning) and Red Caffeine CEO, Kathy Steele to discuss Winning the Virtual Room: How to Excel in Online Presentations. If you missed this Business as ‘Un’usual webinar, Rob shared his expertise presenting on camera as a CBS news anchor and an executive media trainer. He also explained how to prepare for a presentation that connects with a large audience or a small group.

Here’s what we learned:

  • First impressions matter. So, consider the setting and the environment when choosing what to wear and where to present, but also be authentic to who you are.
  • Your presentation content is important, but your tone of voice and persona is what will help you connect with people and win the day 90% of the time.
  • Know thyself. Be sure you allow yourself whatever sleep, meditation, or caffeine you need to perform your best.
  • Preparation is key. The extra step is worth the work.
  • Whether presenting to a large audience or a small group, make them focus on you.
  • Know who your audience is and what matters to them in order to connect.
  • Consider using a structure that includes a story, a statistic (from the story), and a soundbite in order to make your message more relatable and meaningful.
  • Start with a 15-30 second elevator pitch that quickly explains what you do, who you do it for, why you do this, and your value proposition–and then STOP talking. This is just the appetizer for the rest of the meal.
  • Prepare a few planted questions in case no one in the audience comes forward with a question of their own.
  • Know and prioritize the central messages you want to impart on this audience at this moment–and reiterate them in a variety of ways throughout your presentation.
  • Use your slides as a reference point or a guide, not a script.
  • Incorporate a poll question early in your presentation to understand your audience.
  • Even if you don’t want to directly answer a question, always acknowledge it, so the person feels heard.

Thank you Rob, Tom, and everyone who joined us!

Kathy: Welcome everyone to winning the virtual room for our June “Business as Unusual” webinar really excited to have a very interactive and engaging session. I’ve been working on not using all my crutch words today. So, Rob’s gonna be helping all of us.

Rob: See how you do? Yeah.

Kathy: Yeah, we’ll see how I do? Rob will help us all improve how we excel in online presentations. We have our co-host Tom Latteray that just popped in, so we’re really excited to have him today just a couple of housekeeping things as we get started. If you have questions, please populate them into the chat, and then Dana Walters will be moderating our live stream on LinkedIn and Facebook. So, if you’ve got questions in those channels, please add them to the chat there, and she will populate them so we can answer questions ongoing. We’re happy to have everybody join us today, and we’re gonna get started because we’ve got a lot of content to cover. So, going to just introduce my co-host today. So, it’s Tom lottery, and he is my really good friend, one of the greatest humans I know, and he’s also the Managing Partner at M3 Learning. M3 works with companies as large as Google and Webex to small organizations like our entrepreneurial startups. Their solutions change the way your sales teams will interact with their accounts. The relationships will be at higher levels, deeper, stronger, and way more collaborative. The tools that they use transform the way your team communicates at every level on the account and give will give you a framework to which to effectively engage, qualify and close more business which is helpful to all of us. Tom has been a disciple of the M3 Learning process since 2000; when he was the VP of sales and marketing at SBR inc with over 26 years of marketing sales and sales management experience, Tom is able to really bring a unique perspective to the M3 Learning experience because he’s not only teaching people to do it he loves it and then our fabulous guest today. We’re really excited to welcome Rob Johnson. Many people in Chicago will recognize Rob. Rob is the President of Rob Johnson communications. Clever name Rob.

Rob: Yes.

Kathy: A TV.

Rob: Spend a lot of time working on that.

Kathy: Yes, yes, well, I know a good branding organization if you need some help so, but he’s been a TV journalist for more than 25 years. He’s been working as an anchor and a reporter, and the last 20-plus years were spent in the Chicago market, as I mentioned, where he built a trustworthy, credible, and high-integrity brand now. Rob took his TV skills and experience to multiple charitable boards where he serves, and then he’s also using it to help support business and business professionals manage their public relations challenges. He really works with C-suite executives to help them best lead their companies through media training, messaging strategy, and navigating through a crisis when they arise; yeah, we’ve had no crisis in the last few years; he’s also assisting clients with image-building marketing and branding as well as Covid related issues he helps these leaders build internal and external communications and virtual presentation training which he is sort of taking a break from today to join us and so I’m gonna start with Tom. Tom, tell us what’s not on your bio; tell the audience some unique fact about yourself to get us kicked out; all right, it looks like Tom might be frozen. So, Rob will go to you for that question?

Rob: So, you appreciate it. You are giving everybody the background on what I do. I am a father of a 17-year-old; my wife Stacy and I spent a lot of time following him around; he is getting ready to be a junior hockey player 17-year-old playing junior hockey up in Wisconsin, and so we are we spend a lot of time helping him achieve his goals and dreams, and so we spent a lot of time on the road doing that and so when we can go on a family vacation, we’re like hey a family vacation at the beach no hockey. So, we’re a big hockey family, and it’s a very big part of our life and having a flexible schedule now doing my own consulting helps me be able to peel away and go travel here or there and watch him pursue his dreams.

Kathy: Well, I’m an avid fan of travel and hockey. So, I love both of those activities. Tom, are you back with us? Can you share looks like Tom is having some technical difficulties, so we’re gonna just jump in, and so the one thing that we always like to start with is really just centering on why we’re doing the “Business as Unusual” webinars, and that is to help people see the different growth opportunities growth lane opportunities that they have for their business and being an ability to present and communicate effectively is critically important no matter what growth path an organization chooses so let’s sort of jump into the meat of your presentation parker if you can go to the next slide and so Rob, let’s start off in life they say first impressions are everything can you take us through that and tell us why?

Rob: Well, that’s it sounds like a cliche, and probably in certain circles it is, but I would say that it is very important for you as you’re making your first impression this way. What is authentic to you? What is? What is your key? What is? What’s the most important thing that you’re doing? And I would say that everybody has their look right, so I wanted to give you an idea as we’re sitting here looking at all these different folks what do? What is? What is relevant for the audience? I realize probably today I’m a little overdressed. I’m actually doing a media training today at McCormick Place in Chicago with an organization, and so this was the look I had to have today; this is authentic to me, but it might be I might wear depending on who it is I might wear a hoodie one day, or I might wear a sport shirt or whatever the case is so I’m giving you lots of options you can look around and some people are like hey it’s informal, so we want to make sure that that you look the way you do relevant to the meeting that you’re in if people are dressed up then you probably need to be more dressed up like this if people are more casual business casual or just strictly casual need to do that the flannel shirt a lot of people working remotely employ that so that that’s my best advice for everybody that’s thinking about that.

Kathy: Yes, well, I think too; the work attire has really drastically changed with most people concentrating on what they’re wearing in the very top half of their body and less like the fact that I’m not even wearing shoes right now, so it is a really just a different world in terms of how we come, and we come to be present in most of our work-life experiences today. So Tom, welcome back. Where are you?

Tom: I think I’m okay; we were having some technical problems, and so I think, I think we’re okay now.

Kathy: Excellent, so why don’t you take the next question for Rob?

Tom: Yeah, so Rob, I think you’re talking about first impressions; why is that so important? When you’re connecting with the folks that you’re talking to? Why does that create such an important piece of where you need to start?

Rob: That’s a great question and it’s going to help me bridge to the next thing that we’re going to talk about here which is the way you look is it because we’re virtual I mean we can only see each other from the chest up or the neck up so you’re missing a lot of things going on in the room right you’re missing body language you’re missing walking in a room and shaking a hand and how are you and that sort of thing this is how we do it so what do you do that can make a difference and these are all things that when you add them all up they have real value but they’re all smaller things and today you’re going to hear me repeat some things and you might say to yourself gosh he’s being repetitive I’m being repetitive by design because I want you to I want to drill this point home to you and here’s the point I also want to drill home to you as it relates to not just how you look in in terms of how we all look in this little box that we’re in right here but what you say and I love this this piece right here because content for a meeting for a presentation for whatever it is if you’re a sales team if you’re an executive it doesn’t matter content is the most important thing that you can think of in terms of how am i going to pitch this business how am i going to get a sale how am i going to further my cause so when you see this pie graph i don’t want you to think for a second that I’m saying content’s not important what i am saying is content is very important it’s probably going to win you the business or lose you the business but your voice and your persona how you connect with people is going to really win the day and because you’re not in the room because you can’t read the body language because you can’t reach out and shake a hand you have to make sure that you’re doing everything you can on this end to be engaging. So, I’m a fast talker I’m a hands talker I’m hoping it’s not too distracting I’m not waving them everywhere doing that sort of thing but I’m doing what’s authentic to me right now which is presenting in the way that i present in my the voice that I use and also doing some things that would be non-verbal that are helping me helping losing loosen me up for instance the hands this isn’t authentic to me but it’s not authentic to everybody you may be somebody who’s wants to keep your hands on the table you’re comfortable doing that you may want to keep them down at your side whatever the case is there’s not one right way to do it but your voice your persona the way you connect with people the way you’re looking into this little camera right here that’s what’s going to help and so I love talking about this piece because people go what you’re saying my content’s not important and I’m saying no your content’s very important but the way you connect is with your voice with your persona is going to win the day for you no matter what your objective is that particular name.

Tom: Rob, if I could just add something, we work with a lot of inside sales teams, and we know groups that will, before they get on a big call, they’ll do a bunch of push-ups, or they’ll stand up. They’ll walk, they’ll do something that creates an impact that they know is gonna get over the phone or over the zoom call, whatever that is. Is there anything you do? Is there anything you do to kind?

Rob: Well, that’s, so that’s later in the presentation where I kind of at the end I like to talk about it we can talk about it now and then I’ll kind of share with you again so today I woke up early I knew I had to be down here, and I worked out so for me it’s a workout so for other people it might be a three I need two cups of coffee I can’t function unless I have two cups of coffee or it might be I need eight hours of sleep. If I don’t get eight hours of sleep, I am useless. So, everybody has something. So, working out, some people would say, Yoga. I do meditation from time to time; it really helps me out. Yeah, it helps center me, it helps calm my mind, it helps keep me focused if I’m dragging a little bit in lieu of caffeine; I might meditate for 20 minutes, and I come out, and I’m like, okay, I feel good, so everybody has their thing there’s no one right way to do it but whatever your thing is to make sure that you employ it sleep workout caffeine meditation you name it, and I’m not saying drink 12 cups of coffee because it’s funny in some of these presentations training that I do and it’ll say I don’t drink caffeine and I’m like well if you drink it and it kept, and it gets you awake that’s fine I don’t need to have 12 cups of coffee where you’re wired.

Kathy: Right, right, so I love that you; I think when I give a presentation, I’m very focused on the content. I’m glad you clarified sort of that balance of how you show up your voice and persona as well as that attention to the content; what are some of the other key elements for delivering effective communication?

Rob: Well let’s, let’s kind of talk about this and as we take as we advance the slide here I think it’ll really help people understand kind of where we’re talking about i think the other things we need to be talking about here are coming up with your messaging so you’re doing a presentation we’ve already talked about what you’re doing before to get ready we’re talking about how you should look and then you need to really hone in on what is your clear but differentiated message so this boils down to a few simple things and I just did this an hour ago with the group has doing media training for and I said like I always do people say this is it this is not it but this is the start and the start is if you can’t answer these very simple questions about what you do who you do it for why you do it your passion and what’s your value proposition why are you better in your sector if and if that if that comes up that’s the least of the important questions as we kind of get going and what it does is it will tee up a 15 to 20 to 30 second elevator pitch that will help you who are you what do you do who do you do it for why are you better and if you can answer the answer those four questions in 15 to 20 to 30 seconds total you’re gonna it’s gonna set you on the right path that doesn’t mean a woman we just worked with did a beautiful 15 to 20 seconds and then she started getting into something else and it was like stop right there you had it was your central message it was it was your pitch you made a great point stop and if the conversation is good enough and it will be if you’re focused and what your message is your objective is when you’re in that meeting that’s going to elicit follow-up questions.

Kathy: Yeah, we’ve ever seen that helping your full team sort of people that you might not think of in terms of conveying your brand message giving those teammates an elevator pitch so that they can at a cocktail party or if you’re asking them to do a networking event be able to communicate that value proposition that you offer as well so.

Rob: That’s, and that’s perfect that you mentioned both those things because an elevator pitch people like I hardly am never on an elevator it is not literal, it is proverbial, and it is the cocktail party it is the seminar it is the where you’re pitching yourself and what you do it may have to be in this regard right here, or you have to do it, and it’s a little bit more separated because we’re not all in the same room together. So, I think you brought up some great points there because that’s exactly what it’s meant to do, and it’s meant to be the appetizer for the whole conversation. It’s not meant to be the whole meal. You’re not eating the entree and the dessert, and the first what do you do who are you don’t give them chapter and verse they don’t want to know Chapman first give us the most important parts of what you do a woman that I just worked with I like to reference that because it’s fresh in my mind was very passionate about children and that was evident in her first 15 to 20 seconds, and then when she started getting into the other stuff it was like nope stop right there you did great you have to know what those messages are you have to know that this is just the beginning of the conversation.

Kathy: So, what are some of the other things that help your story come to life?

Rob: Yeah, let’s take a look at the next slide, and this is a good way to kind of get into it and talk about things that we need to. First of all, you want to make them focus on you. So, that if you’re, if you have the stage as it were if I’m sitting here talking clearly it’s going to be on me there’s no other distractions around me I don’t think so you want to be the central focus of what of this presentation so that everybody is paying attention and everybody is engaged in what you’re doing so that’s one important factor and there’s a few other things that I want to talk about as well if we if we can take a look at some of the other things when it comes to knowing your audience this is very important so you’re not always going to be giving the same presentation to the same people over and over and over again maybe there’s a sales pitch maybe you’re doing it frequently that’s one thing but you have to know your audience who is your audience where are they and what matters to them about your story and then telling a story crafting anecdotes to support what your story is and why it’s meaningful to your audience and I always like to use this technique and it and sometimes it’s not always a story a stat and a sound bite that’s in a perfect world that’s the tidiest way to do it but it could be just a story so recently I was working with some doctors and they were talking about diagnosing someone somebody came in something and because of their technology and everything they were able to diagnose something serious like a brain tumour and the point was you need to go in and see your doctor and people go yeah right and by telling that story she illustrated exactly what you need to be doing if you have a story around your pitch it’s relatable it’s meaningful and I think that it’s very important to let people know about so that’s why I would always say if and especially as you’re getting into it it’s like okay Rob the floor is yours and I start telling you about what I do and why it’s important and who it helps but if I can tell a story around it if I can tell you the story about the doctor that employed this thing in the right way or I can tell you about the other a woman so what I’m doing is I’m telling you stories I’m not saying oh stop let me first tell a story I’m just telling one i just told you too they weren’t it wasn’t the be-all end-all it wasn’t the greatest thing ever but it teed up the rest of the conversation and the more you can do that the better off you’re going to be and there’s nothing that gives me greater joy as I work with executives to see them not employ this and then we go through some training and some concepts and then we’ll come back and there may be a real interview that’s going on with somebody or there’ll be a real presentation that’s going on and they’ll try the story hey, I had a CEO recently talk about family like the their 500 employees felt like family then she told a 20 or 30 second story about her own family to make her point and I’m like that’s that works knowing your audience knowing what’s important to them very important and the telling the story thing is keep for me.

Tom: Rob, I can’t; I think it’s so critical. I mean, I’ve great speakers figure out ways to almost speak to every single person in the audience even if there are 500 people in that room, so that’s the successful side of it, but we all have been in those presentations where the speaker is a lot of ums and ooms and they, they’re telling you how nervous they are, and maybe they’re reading every word on the slide, and you’re like oh come on, and they’re not what are some tips that you would give for folks to really create a wow factor and make sure they’re connecting and resonating with their audience.

Rob: Well, this slide is actually a good example. I submitted it to everybody at red caffeine a while back, and now, in retrospect, I wish there were fewer words on it, so you’re right; you don’t have to read every word on there; you can use it as a reference point I could probably condense this to audiences who, where, what matters to them like I’m so if you’re condensing it and all that and all it’s meant for in terms of a presentation is a guide to guide you there to give you as the presenter the if I see something up on the screen I know exactly where I want to go.

Tom: Well, I noticed even in your case you didn’t, you didn’t read every one of these words; picked one or two words, and you talked about I thought that was really powerful.

Rob: Well, that’s so if I had to do it again, I’d have even fewer words on Tom, but you’re right. I’m using it as a reference point so people can say, oh, I’m following along, okay, that’s fine. So, it’s used as a reference point. It’s also meant to guide you like, okay here’s what I want to say if I have these three things I kind of where I want to go, so it’s really meant to guide you but to have enough about your subject matter that you have the confidence to go from slide to slide from topic to topic to your various pieces of content and know that it’s making sense to people and know that it’s congruent and knowing that you’re sort of pointed in the right direction that’s what these are meant to do they’re not meant to be chapter and verse on everything.

Tom: Yeah, any other techniques that you use to like really put the wow factor in your presentations? What other tips or techniques could you give us for that?

Rob: Well i would say that first of all its virtual so and as we go through some of these slides let’s go to the next one if we could and take a look at this so we did story stats on white let’s kind of continue with that and kind of move through that because i think we’ve already visited that enough so i was i was giving you an example about a company and it’s just telling the story and then if it’s something that as i am sitting here i came up with company x that offers customized financial products and services to our clients and then i have some verbiage here that any it’s fill in the blanks to what’s important to you then the stat would might be the next slide and it would have to be something really impressive this one happens to be 96 of shares are held by employees that’s a really impressive number you don’t want to say hey, 53 percent of data cause you’re like that’s barely over that’s barely a majority but something like this that drives your point home 96 of our shares held by employees great one and then at the end like a as a little sound bite a little something to leave you with like nothing is more important than our clients our communities and our culture at company x so it’s something where you’re like oh gosh that’s that’s good so I think that these are effective the story stat soundbite as i mentioned earlier an effective technique and if you use the I did mention it is sort of just hey tell a story and then if you’re somebody who wants to connect and you can do this in 30 seconds you can do this in 30 seconds and so some of the best practices that I see and we’re talking about virtually today but there’s some also some good things that you can do as well to make sure that when you’re going into a boardroom that you are prepared to present boardroom style meetings obviously you want to make sure that that all your content is that everybody knows who’s doing what you’re doing that sort of thing that you’re well aligned and this is where people fall short during virtual presentations. So, in a board ward style meeting, makes sure you have your content; it’s bigger; it’s maybe one or two dozen people in there, right, so you want to command the audience, and you want to make sure that your team let’s say it’s a sales presentation is aligned and that before you’ve gone in that board room, you said all right, you’re doing this you’re doing that, and you do, and you say this which is pretty commonplace. So, I’m not saying anything to anybody on this webinar that they’re like wow i didn’t know that of course that where i have found that people have fallen short as it relates to the virtual boardroom when you’re making the virtual presentation people will say we always met right outside the board room for five ten minutes and we choreographed it and then somebody will say and then I’ll ask people when you’re in the virtual meeting they say oh it was terrible nobody knew what was coming next there was an awkward pause we didn’t know what was going on and i would say and again i don’t think this is terribly insightful but it’s more insightful than you might think did you get on zoom half an hour before 20 minutes before and choreograph what everybody was going to do oh no we didn’t have time we had all these meetings set up all day we didn’t have time to do it you were doing a presentation that you were going to do in a and whether it’s a boardroom or it’s a virtual boardroom and you weren’t ready to know who was next and who was saying what and you’d be surprised so what I’m suggesting to you all as we talk about boardroom style meetings and as they relate to this particular topic of the virtual boardroom the virtual meeting is you the preparation still has to be there because nobody’s going to say hey i’m going to walk into a presentation and not prepare of course you are you must prepare you must choreograph it and because you’re not all in the same room because we’re all seeing each other in this fashion today you need to take time to have that extra meeting that extra engagement to make sure that everybody is aligned.

Kathy: So, Rob, I have a follow-on question around that I think a lot of times it’s referred to as like an ensemble presentation; how do you sort of determine who will take what role and sort of coach people around taking those I statements out of their conversations or how people get introduced what are some tips for the boardroom in preparation that you could share with our guests today?

Rob: Yeah, it’s, and this could be any meeting, but certainly for this particular subject, it’s the I and me you want to minimize that because you’re selling the services of you all of we and so I would be very mindful of the words that I choose to use because I am not going to play when you’re part of a team that is selling whatever you’re selling or if you’re an executive and you’re trying to point out the virtues of your firm, and so I think these things are all very important when it comes to that.

Kathy: So, there are some other scenarios that you’re going to take us through, too, so let’s see more meetings.

Rob: So, presenting to large groups and this is sometimes this is sometimes difficult because it’s a large group let’s say it’s 50-ish or more getting everybody focused is key everybody will quiet down and so we’re talking about the actual large group in person and then we’ll talk about the actual large group as we’re going on virtually you want to make sure that you have the command of the room that they’re focused on you I showed that that graphic a little bit earlier that they’re focused on you that they can see what you have to offer and that you’re engaging them so the sometimes the hard part and certainly hard today I mean, I’m engaging with you too but i know there are other people on here but because it’s a webinar I can’t see anybody or hear anybody i know we’re going to get questions and chats coming in and I can see some of them on the side here but you want to be engaging them the large groups not that you don’t want to engage a boardroom or this or that but just remember that having your team aligned whether it’s a boardroom whether it’s a large group making sure that you have your presentation down making sure that everything in the room works it may be today i was we were in our media training and we had the technical guy in here because we’re having trouble with our deck beforehand you need to absolutely make sure if there’s a presentation where people are going to be seeing it on a big screen or something of that nature that everything works and I know people are like come on we joined this today to hear this i just had it happen and it happens all the time and you get into an environment where you’re not used to it whether it be a boardroom which I’m in today whether it’s a large group and you must know your technology you must know where to plug it in where’s the wi-fi where’s the code how do I get this thing to work how do I get how do I have my cat6 plugged in so it’s on the big screen now do I need to run through it whether it’s virtual or whether it’s and that’s why I’m trying to bring up these things that you do presenting to large groups whether it be virtual and the person presenting to boardrooms whether it be virtual in person because they’re relevant to what we’re talking about and you must absolutely go through that process and make sure that everything works because when I walked into this today this board room it didn’t work and it was then we had to sit around and spend some time and okay the audio is good okay now the connection’s bad oh I can’t move my Microsoft teams thing the way I want to get it in slide mode or whatever the case is you absolutely have to make sure your team is aligned that everybody understands what their role is so you’re not talking over each other and then you make sure that your technology is there so you’re going to be the centre of attention in front of this large group and as I mentioned earlier engaging people sometimes it’s a q a session something like for us right now I don’t want people to wait till the end to ask questions even though I know we have spent some time we’ll have time on the back end to do that I want to make sure that I’m talking about what I’m talking about is relevant to you all Tom and Kathy because you’re the co-hosts and I want this to be a conversation and sometimes it’s hard in a large group to have it be that way so you can’t rely on that as much because you don’t want 50 people to chime in but if you can do it in an orderly fashion that’s going to really help you out.

Tom: Rob, we’ve seen a lot of success with companies when they use polls, for example, breakout rooms or chats, chat questions. Are there things that you’ve seen that are successful in this?

Rob: I like that. I like the chat because I can see it here on the side, and you’re going to decide, hey, which one of these which ones of these are we going to bring up, but it’s nice to see because it helps to see what people care about and in terms of engagement Tom like a poll or something kind of when you first start off who are you what are you it kind of gives you a little bit better demographic information or just information about what’s important to people. So, on various webinars I’ve done, it wasn’t really relevant to today because we had a specific thing we were talking about, but if I were to do a webinar or I want to get some information about who’s who about what’s important and then to engage people initially I think, I think something like the poll works out really well and I’ve had great success with it in the past in terms of an initial engagement thing to get people, hey I’ve, I voted b on something and let’s see where my vote came oh, I’m 22 or whatever the case is but it helps engage people.

Kathy: Rob, we did get a great question that I feel is relevant to this group topic. Is it about using sort of this PowerPoint feature where you can actually see your notes on a particular site? Do you have a thought or opinion on using those types of features?

Rob: So, you’re talking about presenting like, say to a large group, and we’re so we’re in a big room, but your notes are popping up on the side. Is that what we’re talking about, Kathy?

Kathy: In terms of there’s a way to view in presentation mode where you can see your notes on it on your slide deck, or you’re really just seeing, yeah, seeing the slides.

Rob: Okay, if I’m being perfectly honest and I and I’ve used my notes and that sort of thing i would prefer that you were in presentation mode so it’s full screen and not seeing the notes because I don’t want everybody to know how the sausage was made honestly and then that’s and that’s kind of what it is but if you needed something up on stage with you or notes in front of you where you’re not distracting people by looking down maybe you have some bullets so what’s next that’s I would prefer that to I get to see your notes because if I’m sitting here presenting anything else that’s on the screen is going to be a distraction so I want you to focus on me and if I have notes or if I have little like oh the tabs at the top I can see the tabs that I wonder what I wonder what they were on before oh they were on this this and then I’m not paying attention to you and so you’ve lost the room so my note on that would be and I saw that question pop up too is for a power point I would prefer you to have your own notes in front of you and I don’t want you to have a script I want you to have bullet points notes whatever that helps you helps what’s next what’s coming next and so I would I would recommend that as opposed to showing your notes because I don’t want everybody to know what went on behind the scenes before I did this, yeah.

Kathy: I do feel like he was asking a question where the notes would be hidden from everyone but the percentage.

Rob: Oh, gosh. Okay, so if you’re talking about that I would if you have notes and you’re really relying on them I would prefer your notes to be and I what I tell people sometimes for notes if I’m doing a virtual presentation like I’m doing here if you’re if you’re up on stage if you have little cards or this or that that’s fine if we’re doing it like this and I see people that have their notes I’ll see people doing presentations and they’re looking over here and looking over here because that’s where their notes are they’re looking down here down here I’m like why don’t you just do like a google doc where you can advance it and you can stay right near the camera right near the camera and you can have your notes right there because quite frankly it’s fine to see everything and if I put it, if I put a note up there if I couldn’t see you guys all the time for this presentation it wouldn’t be the end of the world because once you get into it once you’ve tried to read the body language once you’ve reached out to people once you’ve tried to connect with them virtually and you’re in your presentation mode I hope I’m answering that question right now. So, I know, right, so I would suggest because I’ve done it and I’ve had executives do it that I coach like just keep it right here but don’t give me post-it notes all over where they’re here, and they’re there, and they’re there, and they’re there because that looks that doesn’t look good.

Kathy: Yeah.

Rob: If you keep them in front of you and then you can scroll down, you can control it; you can keep those notes right near eye level right where you’re looking at the camera, so there’s not gonna be much I creep at.

Kathy: I completely agree, and I, in terms of large groups when, have actually tried to use notes, and what I find is that the way I write and the way I speak in more conversational settings it’s quite different. So, I get a little; I get really tripped up if I am trying to be verbatim to how I would have liked to have come across when i’s presenting, so maybe a few bullet points but never like full-on everything I want to say on a particular slide or I get too caught up in trying to be perfect in terms of the articulation the one other thing Rob that I love doing when I’m doing like a larger group setting is start like being at the room when people are walking in be at the door and getting a few conversation starters going like why are you attending is there anything important that you wanted me to cover today so that you have a little insight into what the audience is hoping for so you get that opportunity to address those things right away versus her question, to be honest.

Rob: That’s, that’s a terrific point because if you’re doing a small group then you can get kind of figure out who’s there and in advance and know what’s going to be important to them but getting engaging them and whether it’s a q a or a chat on a virtual presentation or whether it’s just getting taking somebody’s temperature like what’s important to you walk in to a training or to a presentation and you’re gonna have specific goals in mind but like for the thing that I’m doing today which is media training all these people come at it from a little bit they’re all part of the same organization but they have different audiences so hey what’s important to you who’s your most important audience or I’ll ask the other person in the room or various other people whose your audience getting to know them in that way and making them feel welcome into what you’re doing is key but it also helps and this is the difference between virtual and in person it’s so much better to be able to go up shake a hand read body language and learn a little bit about somebody because when we all got on here you don’t get that opportunity as much which is why when you have the opportunity as you’re waiting for people to come into the room that’s the that’s the that’s the that’s akin to the live hey we walked in the room we shook hands how you doing we’re waiting for everybody so we’re waiting for everybody to join that’s your time to be like oh Kathy you’re your child plays softball and you were in Kankakee this weekend so tell oh that’s and because i might be able to use that later in the presentation as not as a full-blown story but as a reference point and it and for you you’re going to be like oh my gosh they were listening that’s very important in terms of getting information about people knowing what’s important to them knowing that audience and also just connecting on an interpersonal level.

Kathy: So, I know we’ve touched a little bit on those remote experiences, but we did get another question about kind of prepping and knowing your audience; how is there any way to do that virtually?

Tom: A great question, too; yeah, how do you do that virtually? How do you get that engagement before a session?

Rob: Before a session well I mean if you’re if you’re meeting with them if it’s a potential client and you’re having meetings and we’re gonna present on Thursday at noon the chances are you’ve met with them before so you have a chance to connect with them in those other meetings like okay what are we gonna what do you want because whenever I deal with clients before their clients they’re potential clients and so I have to have meetings in advance and I have to be asking questions you’re going to be asking questions anyway because of what are the needs of your particular company but you’re also going to be having opportunities in a less formal environment where you’re going to be able to ask them questions about hey what’d you do this weekend or this or that where you’re getting to know them and so because you can’t get to know people as well on this as you can in person I think it’s very important having those meetings are leading up that they’re meaningful that you’re getting to know each other that you’re hearing not only what their needs are but what kind of makes them tick that helps and then once you get into the day of meeting the actual presentation as it were if that’s what we’re talking about that’s why I just mentioned a second ago people are coming into the room hey the thing starts at noon but somebody’s gonna roll in let’s wait for everybody for two three minutes and if I’ve already met you Kathy we met on some other occasions. So, Kathy, how did the softball go? And can’t get this weekend or they said so we might just be sharing things and it kind of loosens it kind of loosens things up a little bit it kind of it kind of takes a less formal approach to this which is even though people aren’t probably dressed to the nines all the time it’s hard to connect this way so you need to find every opportunity you can to connect to make sure that you’re talking about what’s important to them and that you’re hearing them not only about business but about some of the other things because that is a those are connection points that can matter so this this connection Tom starts before the meeting and in preparation meetings where you may have two or three people on the on the meeting all told and then as you get into your team doing the work and then it’s a presentation to a bigger group then it’s oh hey i want you to meet Jennifer she’s the CFO or whatever oh tonight so there so during that time before it’s hey it’s the presentation that’s when you have those opportunities to do that.

Tom: Yeah, we’ve seen good success with pre-programmed surveys, pre-programmed polls that then populate your first one or two slides, and so Rob, I definitely hear a lot about preparation. I think that’s critical in order for you to have a great presentation. It’s really about the preparation you do ahead of time. So now you’re in the presentation, and somebody asks a question, maybe it’s a little bit of a right turn, maybe it’s a complete left turn. Who knows any tips on how you kind of gets agile? What are the things you can do to prepare yourself?

Rob: Let’s advance the slide and talk about that very specific thing. This is something that we don’t need to get into as much we kind of organize this sequentially.

Kathy: Next slide.

Tom: Yeah, yeah, there you go.

Rob: So, here we go, so we’ve talked about something, and I’m gonna get, and I’m gonna actually go back to the virtual the what you need to do to present virtually but let’s talk about techniques for answering questions, so you have hooking bridging flagging and compare and contrast and I don’t want to spend a lot of time on hooking because that requires a follow-up question even though I know we have it in here so we’re probably going to zip through that a little bit but bridging this is a perfect example of what you’re talking about Tom where somebody asks you a question there. So, when you walk into a meeting a presentation whatever the case may be you need to know what your central message is you need to know why you’re there today for this audience at this moment right now what do I need to be talking about and i would say the bridge helps you do that so somebody asks you a question always answer it if it’s not a winner for you then you answer a question briefly but then you bridge it back to what you want to talk about which you’ll say and I’ll give some techniques here in a second but bridging is very important because it allows you to take something that you can answer a question it may be not something you want to spend a lot of time on because it’s not going to help in that particular day but it helps you get back to your messages and let’s advance this and go through this so hooking I said, I didn’t want to spend any time let’s jump to bridging here because hooking requires somebody asking a question so the idea of bridging is moving deftly from one issue to another so you would answer the question and then you would move on to your message and i i think you see politicians do this all the time but they do it horribly i could say hey Tom what’s is the sky blue is the sky blue today and you’d say well I’m here to talk about that and they don’t even pretend to answer your question.

Tom: Right.

Rob: And here would be a kind of a little bit of a silly example but an example and you could say yes Rob, the sky is blue, and that reminds me or in addition, and you get back to whatever your message is you go to where you want to go you acknowledge a question you heard them. So, you respected them, and then yes, Rob, the sky is blue, and speaking of blue, who knows, you could transition to it in a multitude of ways, but it’s the bridge to where you want to go, and it’s not spending time with something that may not be a winner for you or an area you don’t want to know. So that’s, so that’s bridging flagging if we can take a look at that that is a little bit different scenario flagging it helps your audience remembers your most remember your most important message you may be in an interview you may be getting somebody may be asking you questions in a presentation about certain things, and you want to remind them of what your central message is. So, I’m not here today to tell people what their central messages are when you go before an audience I’m just here to prepare you for when you do so the flagging is at various points in the interview you can you can drive that point home again you can find a moment where you can get back to what you want to talk about and then and you can see some examples the most important thing about our marketing strategy is or here’s what we believe in and it goes back to your central message and then sometimes somebody may say hey any final thoughts it could be in a presentation it could be an interview it could be in a boardroom or a large group whatever the case is sometimes they give you that opportunity hey, great presentation today, Kathy, any final points that you’d like to make oh my gosh your eyes after they get really big because that’s a gift the last part of the flagging is like you’re planting a flag you’re planting a flag the last time any final thoughts or if you just take the opportunity to make the final point it’s like going to midfield you got two hands on your flag and you’re planting it right at midfield and it’s like that’s us that’s who we are and that’s the final word and i got the final word and that’s it and that’s what I’m leaving people with so they don’t forget it flagging is very important compare and contrast is and I was working with a insurance company recently and so if we go to compare and contrast is this everybody understands what that is it’s taking one thing and saying how yours is better I don’t like people to talk about the competition i don’t want you to say name another company they do it wrong and we do it right you could say at other companies or the competition or somebody said don’t name them don’t talk about them but this is a way for you to make a differentiating point by talking about what somebody does that may not be right or may not be as technologically sound or whatever the case is and talk about what you’re doing that’s right and so compare and contrast it’s a pretty simple concept but it requires that you don’t go trashing the other guys that you can mention hey here’s how some people do it and here’s how we do it and we think we have a better way so those are all these are all good they’re good interview techniques they’re good presentation techniques because invariably somebody’s going to ask you a question whether they intended to do it or not they’re going to ask you a question that may not be a winner for you that’s a bridge a flag is let’s keep reminding him let’s keep reminding him and then give him a big capital r reminder at the end and then compare and contrast is depending on what you’re what you’re selling here’s how some people do it here’s how we do it and we think it’s better.

Tom: What I love about that too is, you? I mean, you’re never going to win an argument in front of a large room, so everything you’ve talked about is that space of agreement, and there’s a mutual place. Yes, I love it, but you’re still planting that flag, and I love that it’s really good.

Rob: Yeah, very, very important, so when you go?

Tom: Oh, go ahead, Rob.

Rob: No, I was going to say again, please, please go ahead and ask.

Tom: When you go to plant your fret flag, I think the last slide we’ve really got this, and it’s a powerful one. What’s the flag you plant as far as preparation? What should everybody do to prepare for their presentation?

Rob: Well I think, I think what you need to do if we’re talking about planning the flag or anything else Tom is making sure that you’ve prepared and exactly what your purpose is in that meeting on that day and like I said earlier sometimes you’re gonna have different audiences sometimes you’re gonna have different objectives you’re gonna have different goals but you have to really think in a very in a very thoughtful way what you’re going to do to make sure that you’re getting in and that you’re making those things understandable and if I could and I know that we zipped by the virtual slide a little earlier but I don’t yeah, so yeah, so we’re going to go to getting that so right there connecting when presenting remotely it all starts with preparation we all know that coming up with your central message but then there’s some technical things that I mentioned earlier too like knowing your technology knowing how things work on the computer for the virtual presentation much as us getting on 15 20 minutes before and kind of going through it making sure it works so for me it’s cameras just about at eye level today I’m not saying the lighting is perfect because I’m in kind of a foreign area I’m doing a media trainings all day but if I had to do anything right now I would probably put a light over here over here there right there put a light over there to bounce it off me a little bit better when we were first setting up I had a little bit more distracting background and I just try to make innocuous pictures the background so you don’t want backlighting that make you look like a silhouette you also don’t want your blinds to be open and all of a sudden I can see cars driving by or I can see people walk into a parking lot or something like that you want them to be focused on you and also what I did today was and I don’t do it for every one of my presentations but because it was a big deal and there’s a lot of people on here I made sure I have my microphone here that I use for my podcasting and that’s why i have my headset on so i can hear it better to make sure that it than that it sounds okay that’s very important too is that is that pertinent to maybe a sales meeting where people no but if that you’re going to be presenting in kind of this fashion where people are coming and there’s going to be a large group of people you want to make sure that you give them every opportunity to hear to be as clearly heard as you can be heard making eye contact you don’t want to be too high or too low like I don’t want to be looking down looking down at you and so there’s some of these techniques that work well as it relates to, say, a sales presentation; you need to make sure there’s somebody else here. So, Tom, you were getting knocked off a little bit at the beginning, yeah, and so Kathy’s here we have, and what I would suggest too is if it’s if somebody has administrative rights and you’re presenting a deck at a let’s say the sales pitch that you have a redundant deck you have somebody else who is also able to share the screen which also has the ability so if you get knocked off Tom Kathy can continue that slide and you can continue the conversation as opposed to saying oh, I’m sure Tom’s going to get back on in a minute i don’t know what happened because that just kills the that kills it right so you’re a team you need to make sure that you’re aligned from a content standpoint but you also need to make sure you’re aligned from a presentation standpoint and the final thing i will say about this and sometimes it’s hard for people to understand is this presentation is in service to your audience so you’re sitting here spending all this time making sure everything’s perfect and every slide makes sense in the whole that whole thing and you’re making it all about you you’re saying gosh I hope I remember we talked about I and me versus I have a great presentation today it’s not about me I’m sitting here i want to do my best I hope, I hope this is great advice for everybody out there but it is about the audience your presentation whether it’s at a sales meeting whether it’s an executive meeting whatever it may be whether it’s a webinar in front of several hundred people is in service to your audience and don’t ever forget that that’s a virtual tip that’s also a presentation tip and it’s not meant to demean the presentation because some people like it’s not a performance it’s a presentation it’s very important yes it is but you are performing for the audience and the audience it’s all about them and it’s not about you please keep that in mind and if we skip ahead here to a couple of others and we mentioned this earlier the gaining knee advantage I mentioned that and this is a great way to sort of end it is talking about the caffeine the sleep the meditation the working out all those sorts of things because you want to put yourself in the right mindset to make sure that before you walk into that real or virtual room that you were doing the best of your ability and you’ve set yourself up for success, and two of the other components that I always add here are practice and visualization, but that doesn’t matter who you are, please practice and if you’re a visual person and it helps you see the success at the end, and oh I closed the deal, or I had a good outcome for my meeting, by all means, do it, but the practice is at the top of this list, and that is non-negotiable no matter what kind of personality you have.

Kathy: Well, Rob, we did have a lot of great questions that I know we’re not going to be able to get to all of them. I did want to ask one, though, because this happened to me, especially in the virtual rooms; when you don’t get questions, you open it up to close your presentation out and silence. What do you do in those situations?

Rob: Well first of all if it’s something like this if it’s a presentation if it’s like a webinar or a bigger meeting something like this and we’re the I’m the host and we’re all administrators and that sort of thing I always like to have a planted question and I with a lot of my clients you have a planted question because sometimes it is crickets and sometimes and not sometimes almost all the time getting the first question is the hardest part of everything and once you get a question then other questions follow but please have a plan now if it’s a presentation and there’s no questions that means you’ve answered all their all of their all the questions they would have so it depends on who the audience is it depends on what the scenario is so if it’s something big like this and you go gosh nobody’s asking any questions well I hope Tom or Kathy, I hope you have a question for me that you thought of and you actually didn’t plant this question it was an actual question that you had which is even better right Kathy so that that’s always my advice because if you don’t get that then all of a sudden like anybody somebody come on I don’t know that first hand is always the hardest and then you sit there and it’s that it’s that time killer so always have a have a plant or three.

Tom: Here’s the piece of advice that we give, and I’m gonna want to ask the question you. Maybe it’s really powerful that place of okay if there are no questions. Tell me what’s your biggest takeaway from today’s presentation. Let me get two or three takeaways, and so Rob, I’d love to ask you in the audience what is the top two or three takeaways that you think they should get from this presentation are. They are those flags.

Rob: The flags for everybody that that are here that is here today is first of all I want you to understand that preparation is key that when you’re doing it this way that extra step or two is absolutely imperative it requires more work but you absolutely have to do it because you don’t have the benefit of being in the office with somebody with being able to walk in somebody’s office and what are we going to say what are we going to do how are we going to game this sort of thing so preparation is key and the next one the next two are related it’s message and audience you can’t tell everybody everything you’re a subject matter expert in your field and somebody says what do you do you can’t go on a five five-minute diatribe you have to prioritize your messages for this particular thing what’s the important thing I can convey today so knowing your audience and having a very specific message that you want to convey on that day if you all walk away with those things preparation messaging and audience then I’ve done my job today and the rest of its and the rest of it is unique to virtu I’m not saying the virtual pieces of this discussion aren’t important they’re very important but it all starts with those three things and then there are things specific to this method of communication.

Kathy: Well, thank you so much. I can’t believe this hour.

Rob: I can’t believe it. I’m like, this is an hour, this is an hour.

Kathy: It really did go fast. There were a number of questions we didn’t get to. We did have your email address on your LinkedIn. We wanted to remind the audience that they can reach out to you if they want to get a one-on-one answer to any of the questions; we didn’t get to, so please use put “Business as Unusual” in your subject line. So, Rob knows that you’re coming from our webinar series. I always want to make sure we don’t have an opportunity to thank our sponsors, so we’ve got three really great sponsors, M3 Tom’s company in spirit and HR source, and then what’s next, what’s coming next to our July “Business as Unusual” is going to be driving versus drowning choosing the smart tech farms to fuel your growth, so we’re going to talk about the business technology stack and which the units or some organizations have too much technology some organizations don’t have enough so what is the right recipe for your tech road map and so it’s going to be a really engaging conversation with Mike Remke and Matt Butler from Bonsai Data solutions. I’m really excited about talking about this topic because it’s mission-critical for almost every organization. Again, thank you to my co-host Tom and our guest, Robert.

Rob: Thank you for having me. It’s great.

Kathy: And saying goodbye to everyone today, thanks for joining us. We’ll see you in July.

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