After you’ve generated leads through the web and with email, how do you go about closing the sale? Many times it comes down to making a presentation to an individual or small group of decision makers. And it’s nice to be able to fly to a prospect’s city and make that presentation in person. But frequently, the time and money spent traveling makes this impractical. The solution is to give a presentation to a group of people over the web without ever leaving the office.
The web is usually thought of as a one-to-many medium, even though personalization techniques can gather profile data and tailor a standard message. However, the web can also be used as a one-to-one communications tool to deliver a presentation to an individual or a small group.
Several companies now offer web-based products and services that allow a presenter to send PowerPoint slide presentations to any number of people for viewing at their desks or in a meeting room. The audio portion of a presentation can be carried over the Internet, but usually a presenter will use a standard telephone conference call.
Web presentations can provide several benefits over an in-person presentation that go beyond saving you travel time and expenses. For instance, they are more conversational than a formal presentation, so it’s easier to ask the audience questions and tailor the presentation to their needs. Web presentations can also be scheduled on shorter notice than meetings that require travel.
Another presentation problem that the web can help overcome is presenting to people in different cities at the same time. Frequently, companies have groups of people working on a project from different locations. This can make it impossible to get the entire team together for a physical presentation that gathers everyone’s reaction simultaneously.
With web presentations, you can give a dry run to the person who is sponsoring it before traveling to make the in-person presentation to their top management. By asking for feedback from your sponsor, you can learn how to further target your message so it has greater impact and appeal when it counts.
Sales presentations to prospects in distant cities are frequently seen as the main use for this tool; however, there are other uses as well. Web presentations are being used in-house for project briefings, updating the staff at remote locations, vendor briefings, and staff training.
Web Presentation Companies
Most web presentation companies provide software that transmits PowerPoint images to their server, where the images are broadcast to everyone in the audience for viewing in a web browser. Some allow you to show running applications to the audience, a great tool when giving software or web site demos.
I have recently been using WebEx for meetings, but I have also used Pixon’s PictureTalk and PlaceWare. Another provider to consider is E-Conference.
Some vendors offer their solution only as a service, while others provide both services and software you can run in-house. Before bringing this type of application in-house, make sure your Internet connection has sufficient bandwidth to support the largest audience you plan to accommodate.
Tips for Giving Web Presentations
Giving a presentation through a web presentation tool is a little different from delivering presentations in person. Instead of a one-to-many presentation to a large group, web presentations to an individual or small group usually provide more of a structured conversation.
This interactive approach allows you to ask questions of the audience to gauge their interest, confirm their understanding of the material, or obtain agreement to the main points of your presentation.
Bullet slides provide an outline that keeps the conversation on track, while more graphical slides can help deliver a message that a telephone call alone just can’t convey.
The ease of setting up a web presentation meeting makes it very easy to forget the basic requirements for using this new technology, so you can use the check-list below:
- Schedule the meeting at the web presentation site in advance so the email reminders have time to reach all attendees.
- Arrange the telephone conference call ahead of time.
- Have participants download any required software prior to the meeting.
- Assign someone to take notes on what was learned and on future action items.
- Have notes near your computer to remind you of topics to emphasize and questions to ask the audience.
The versatility and low cost of web presentation tools make it easier than ever to deliver your message with the impact of well-designed slides and live demonstrations. While nothing can replace the relationship-building value of meeting with people in person, web presentations are a valuable tool to bridge the gap between a telephone call and a plane ride to a distant city.