Join Petrula Vrontikis for an in-depth discussion in this video Effective virtual presentations, part of Running a Design Business: Presentation Skills.
There's a growing trend in the design industry towards virtual partnerships and collaborations. Virtual presentations are becoming commonplace, because the design team members, and the client, are not located in the same city. New, real time conferencing technologies are being developed all the time to make this easier. Other than convenience, there is little advantage to presenting your work virtually. Most designers would rather present in person, to get a read on the room and be able to act accordingly.
Even though the technology creates a casual atmosphere, it's actually more challenging for designers to properly prepare and deliver this kind of a presentation. It's difficult to get a handle on reactions, and you must think on your feet. You need to listen even more carefully. Your senses have to be heightened in order for you to read the pauses and understand the communication cues of the participants. A big challenge designers and clients have with these types of presentations has nothing to do with the work.
It's wrangling with multiple schedules and time zones. Often, participants are late, or distracted, because they haven't dedicated 100% to the experience. Too many times, someone has not understood the meeting time in various time zones and completely misses the call. It's best to use virtual presentations as a quick check-in review with the team members or the client. Remember, they're about convenience and efficiency, not abut relationship cultivation and trust building.
I recommend you don't transfer any files, and here's why. You lose control over your work, and the presentation of it. I suggest building the presentation in a temporary place on your website and taking it down shortly after. This way you keep from leaving all of your terrific ideas with your client. If you have to provide a file to the participants, do so just a few minutes before the presentation to make sure it's downloaded and ready. If it's sent too far in advance, they'll open it, and opinions and reactions will be formed before you speak.
During a virtual presentation, it's very tempting for clients to peek ahead if they have independent control of the file. It's good to use screen sharing, because you can guide them at your own pace. Virtual meetings are considered the new normal and are an asset for collaboration when participants are in different locations. Many technologies like Google Drive and Dropbox are brilliant for collaboration, sharing, and storage, but using them for design presentations can be tricky.
Know the difference and know what will work to your advantage.
- Presenting one-on-one, to a team, or to a larger audience
- Choosing a presentation format
- Introducing your design and providing context
- Persuading your audience
- Developing visual aids
- Creating a great first impression
- Understanding verbal and nonverbal cues
- Getting approval
- Facilitating a Q&A session