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How to Connect and Inspire Virtually

It can be done!  Yes, you’re at home and no, you can’t connect with people in person.  But, as a Speaker Coach and Business Coach with a lot of experience presenting online, I want you to know you can connect with your clients and prospects virtually and get it to work.

It can be effective.  It’s just a bit more challenging.

The biggest challenge?  You aren’t able to interact with people in the same kind of up-close and personal way.  You can’t play off the energy of a live audience. And that makes it harder to truly connect.

To make the change-over from “live and in person” to presenting via the magic of streaming video a little easier, I’ve partnered with another virtual expert, Lyn Karnstedt, to present the keys to thriving in the world of online presentations.

We call them the Three P’s of Virtual Engagements:

  • Preparation
  • Presence
  • Participation

First, you need to prepare your environment, the technology, and your content.

Start by eliminating as many distractions as possible … kids, barking dogs, doorbells, etc.  Turn off all the notifications on your computer.

Consider your lighting and how your background will appear on camera.  Some programs allow you to change your background.

Test your internet speed using an app such as SpeedSmart or Speedtest.  Upgrade your service if needed.

One of the things I do consistently is join the webinar online, so folks can see me and interact with me, but I also phone in.  

That way, if your Internet gets unstable … and it will at the most inopportune times … your audience will still be able to hear you and the flow isn’t interrupted!  Use a good headset and test the sound.

The best platform?  My favorite is Zoom.  It works.

That said, always do several dry runs!

Make sure you’ve downloaded the necessary software and also test the link.  If you can, use a computer or laptop instead of your phone.

How do you make your presentation interactive and engaging?

Come with a valuable message … a compelling message … that keeps people engaged.

And then, deliver it with even more energy than you would in person!  That’s the essence of presence.

Are people likely to be less fully engaged online?  YES!

So, it’s a good idea to make your presentation more interactive.

But I’ve heard some really bad advice out there.  One of my clients was advised to do a poll or an “activity” every five minutes or so to keep folks engaged.

I was on a call that modeled that approach today, and it became more about the cool technology than the importance of the message!

And please, don’t hide behind a bunch of slides!  Make sure you use a slide only when it can make the point better than you can.

Use lots of stories and examples.  They go a long way toward building connection and rapport with your audience.

Encourage participation.

Ask your participants and the meeting organizers to stress the importance of having their cameras on.

Don’t be afraid to ask several times.  You’ll up the level of engagement markedly.

Make eye contact with all the individuals in the “room.”

Interact with the folks in your room … not via the chat box.  

Let people know you’ll be asking for their input.  Get them asking and answering questions and sharing their wisdom.  And ask for input from “folks who haven’t shared yet.”  This can be very effective in drawing out the introverts.

Look, it’s a new world of virtual events out there.  You can still effectively build your business by speaking, but you have to stand out from the crowd.

There are too many examples of speakers reading me their PowerPoint slides … impressing me with the bells and whistles of technology … and chatting with me via the chat box.

And that’s a shame, because now, more than ever, people are craving real, genuine interaction.  

Focus on preparation, so you can confidently set any technology concerns aside.

Concentrate on your presence, so you’re making an authentic connection with your audience members.

And go for old-fashioned, real participation where your audience members feel heard and acknowledged … and you’ll thrive in the virtual environment!

Warmest Wishes,



About Lyn Karnstedt:  With 30 years of sales, sales management and sales training experience at FedEx, Symantec, and Dell, Lyn has spent the last 14 years living and working in Southeast Asia.

She’s conducted training programs throughout Asia, Europe, Australia, India and the US.  She specializes in new manager training, selling skills, sales management, storytelling, virtual management and selling, strategic account management, problem solving, account planning, negotiations, and coaching.


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Meet Denise: Denise Hedges is a Business Development Coach and Speaker Coach for small business owners who want to be more comfortable, confident, and successful with their sales and marketing efforts. She specializes in helping them use speaking as a way to dramatically improve their results!