by pat

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Would you believe… The Cone of Silence

Remote web demonstrations are marvels of modern technology: inexpensive, powerful and ubiquitous, but if you’re not careful virtual demos can be your worst nightmare.

If you have never seen the TV series “Get Smart” you’re in for a treat. Watch the clip below. It perfectly captures the dark and funny side of communicating with technology (the fun starts about 23 seconds in):

I think the “Cone of Silence” gives you a pretty good idea of the kinds of things that can go awry with remote web demos. Lets take a look at common web-based demonstration problems that arise and how to deal with them.

Is everyone on the bus?

Getting everyone logged in can be a big hassle. Most web conference systems are pretty good, but they all have quirks.

Make it a point to provide clear instructions and encourage everyone to log in a few minutes early.

As the host, jump on the line at least 10 minutes before the call. Finally have a back channel (phone number and or email) for those having problems. Publish an email address and phone number for anyone to use if they have issues signing in.

Audio Issues

Audio problems are very common. To avoid most issues, try these tips:

  • If available,  a land line can work well. If you use cell or  computer audio, verify reception is adequate.
  • If you must use a speakerphone, verify the quality. Get an echo cancelling unit if you can.
  • Try a headset
  • When using Internet based audio (VOIP) be sure you have tested it with all attendees
  • Explain in the invitation or chat area to all how to mute and un-mute their line. For larger meetings, mute attendees to reduce interference.

Can you see what I see?

Be sure that all attendees can see the screen. A sales person at the prospects site is a great way to get feedback. You may also want to try logging in from a second system at your desk so that you can see exactly what the audience is seeing. Some systems like gotomeeting have a display option to show you what users are seeing.

Show everything that’s pertinent to the demo

Showing your software is a given for most demos, but what about hardware. If you are using an instrument, tool or some other piece of physical gear–show it. You can often do this with a web cam. If you don’t have a web cam, take a picture so that you can reference it as you explain what’s happening. Sometimes a video clip can work well, just be sure the clip is short and to the point.

Be Exciting Be “E” Exciting

OK, maybe I watched one too many cheer-leading comedies! The point is that you need to keep the audience engaged. Ask questions, use polls if the software supports it. If you feel yourself prattling on and on, check in and make sure the group is still with you. Studies show that the audience has a short attention span so plan out when to use graphics and tell stories to maintain their interest.

If you do remote demos as part of your job, you may want to check out our Demo Training Programs and Workshops.

Have other issues with web demos, share it with us in the comments section.

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