Welcome to the Party! (Or, what happens before your online presentation begins?)

Welcome to the Party! (Or, what happens before your online presentation begins?)

By Dynexus Group, Inc

BY: David Marcotte, Success Services for Acumatica/Marcotte Coaching, LLC
David@marcottecoaching.com | The Complete Professional, by SSA

“Attitudes are contagious… Are yours worth catching?”

~ Unknown

Online Presentation Tips for Being an Effective Host

When leading an online meeting of any kind (demo, presentation, etc.), you have a significant responsibility as your audience begin to trickle into the call; you are the host of the party! Remember the days of hosting parties at your home? The doorbell rings, you walk to the door, and you open it, right? Your next move can determine precisely what mood the party will embody. If this happens to be a graduation party, for example, you’d likely open the door with a big smile, an enthusiastic greeting, and some delightful “small talk” as you welcome the guests into your home. How would this energy change if this gathering happened to be for a funeral luncheon? My guess is the energy, the attitude, with which you open the door and greet your guest would be different. When you let folks into your meeting, you are effectively the host of the party. How you open the proverbial meeting door and greet your guests can be a determining factor to the success of that call.

Everyone who comes to your online meeting has life distractors hindering their ability to focus on you and the information they are about to receive. Perhaps they just got off a challenging call. Maybe they are concerned because their child is not feeling well. It is even possible that they are merely struggling to simultaneously manage their job and the A/C repair person who has just arrived at their home. As the “host” of this party, you have the responsibility of helping your audience shed their distractors and feel welcomed, thus allowing your audience to be as present and focused as possible when your presentation begins. When communal focus happens, the ROI of that meeting goes up, way up!

The following are some helpful tips for being an effective meeting host:

  1. First, get yourself in the right mood. Hosts have life distractors, too, just like everyone else. If you open the meeting with a negative attitude, it will likely impact your audience negatively. If this occurs, your opportunity for a productive meeting outcome begins to diminish. So, how do you shift your mood from negative to positive before the meeting? The following are a few tips worth exploring in the five or ten minutes before launching your next online meeting:
    • − Smile! When you smile, you change how your brain interprets the moment. Yes, in many cases, you can trick your brain into thinking everything is not so bad. If you want to feel even better, try laughing. Think of a pleasant memory, watch a bit of stand-up comedy, or a scene from your favorite sit-com, for example.
    • Exercise! Like smiling, science knows that even light exercise releases positive endorphins in your body, allowing you to feel instantly better, even if only a little bit. Try stretching, toe-touches, arm circles, push-ups, or anything that you can do to perk yourself up.
    • Breathe! When you take in lots of air, you oxygenate your body. This oxygen allows your muscles to relax and your brain to calm down. To breathe effectively, take long, deep breaths by inhaling for five seconds and then exhaling for five seconds. Yoga-style breathing will not only help you feel better; it sharpens the mind.
    • Smile and Eye Contact! As guests enter your call, greet them with a smile and eye contact. Greeting your guest with a smile will help make them feel welcome, and it will make you appear more likable, approachable, and trustworthy. Also, try using the lens of your camera to give your guests the appearance of exceptional eye contact. Smile and eye contact together help to establish positive human connections, allowing for more meaningful interactions. Your call is now off to an incredibly positive beginning!
    • Names! Greet your guests using their names! Dale Carnegie once said, “Remember that person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” When you use a person’s name, they feel special, respected. Not only does this help you further grow a connection with your audience members, but it also paints you in a positive light, too. Pro tip: If it is a small group, try using each person’s name three times during the “Welcome to the Party” phase of your meeting or presentation.
    • Pleasantries! Pleasantries, otherwise known as small talk, refers to the simple conversations you can have with individuals coming into your call. Small talk is a fantastic opportunity to build rapport, shut down mental distractors, and solidify the desired mood for this meeting.

      When offering pleasantries, try asking your guests open questions, questions that require more than a one-word answer. Pro Tip: Whenever possible, try personalizing the open questions for the individuals coming into your call. Perhaps on the last call, your customer happened to mention they were going out on a friend’s boat over the weekend. On the next call, you can ask them, “Hey, last we spoke, you mentioned you were going to go out on a friend’s boat over the weekend. Please, tell me what that experience was like?” The “Tell me what…” is an example of how to begin an open question.

      NOTE: Avoid asking about any topic that might be too personal or controversial. Politics, religion, relationship problems, and health problems are just a few examples of topics worth avoiding.

In closing, your leadership responsibility extends beyond meeting invites and being the featured speaker. You have an influential role in helping your audience focus, thus guaranteeing a more productive meeting. Please do not underestimate the significance of your role as the party
host, and it begins as your audience enters the call. Embrace it! Set the mood you wish your party to embody for the betterment of all.

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