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Part 3: Handling Virtual Sessions

In Part 1, I talked about general presentation skills and in Part 2, I talked about specifically why presentations should be uploaded when handling live meeting sessions.

In this part, I will talk a bit more on virtual sessions like live meeting or any other tool or just audio sessions.

Unlike class room or face to face presentations, virtual sessions need to be managed a bit different and often people fail to realize some basic guidelines. Here are they

1. Since you can't see the audience (unless using video conference) being able to gauge the audience mood becomes difficult and hence you need to possibly interrupt your speaking at regular intervals to let audience ask questions.

2. The voice quality and clarity will play a significant roll in ensuring that the presentation is well received. At least as the speaker try to be as close to the microphone so that you can be heard loud and clear.

3. Talk a bit slowly to ensure people are able to follow what you are speaking.

4. When navigating between slides, call out the slide number or title to ensure that audience can follow along. This isn't necessary if you are using tools like live meeting where everyone is seeing the presentation as you control it. But it may happen that people are locally running the presentations and then this becomes important.

5. Pay attention to your audio input as well. I have seen many cases where the speaker goes on and on, while the audience may be trying to interrupt to ask questions. This can upset the audience and either they will lose interest or worst still will disconnect and leave.

6. You may want to, in the interest of covering all the material, not allow questions in between. In such a case, always announce this upfront and possibly put the audio bridge in lecture/silent mode.

7. Many audio bridges announce people's names as they join in. Since there are always late joiners, you may want to switch off the announcement feature so that those joining late don't interrupt the audio line. This obviously depends on type of call and how many people are expected to join in.

8. At the start of the session, you can plan to take a poll to check all can hear the audio line clearly. Just asking on the line may not work, as someone who isn't able to hear, can obviously not hear you asking, if the line is working or not, as well.  

9. Upload presentation to live meeting server if doing this via live meeting as mentioned in Part 2. Also if you have to show demo and possibly run local applications, you may want to plan on sharing on those applications. This however needs you be careful. As you switch between your local applications, you must make sure that they are shared and are the currently selected ones. Additionally when switching back to presentation post demo, again don't forget to share the presentation. These steps are necessary if you haven't shared your desktop.

10. Note that based on bandwidth, the screen refresh on the audience could be slow hence you may want to do things slowly and also keep asking people on what they are seeing. Another option is to use a parallel machine and connect that as regular participant to the virtual session and check that for screen status.

These are pretty much main points that I can think of. If you have more suggestions, do write back.

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