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Bonus Focus - 5 Mistakes Virtual Trainers Make
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In this digital age, video is king. It promises a more engaged audience and more effective delivery of your message. Is your team prepared to be engaging in front of a web cam? It’s not enough to know the technical ins and outs of virtual training platforms – you need a new skill set for presenting in front of a video camera. After all, if it came naturally we would all be vying for anchor desk on Good Morning America.

Here are five mistakes trainers make when presenting in front of a video camera. 

#5 – Sit in Front of a Messy Background

What message are you sending with that sloppy pile of folders and crumpled up paper? Let me give you a hint: It’s not “creative genius at work.” Whether they’re in a home office or corporate setting, trainers don’t spend enough time organizing the scene behind them. Turn on your web camera in advance to assess the entire picture. Clear away distractions, photos or knick-knacks that might pull focus away from what you’re saying. And never, ever use a window as your backdrop.

#4 – Don’t Bother to Prepare

Watching unprepared presenters is bad enough when you’re in the same room and listeners are held captive. But if you don’t prepare your virtual presentation well enough to keep it interesting and moving quickly, there are plenty of distractions to keep your audience occupied. In fact, studies show learners’ No. 1 activity during a webinar is checking email (actually watching the webinar comes in 2nd). After all, there’s no physical proximity to shame them into paying attention.

#3 – Forget to Adjust Camera Position

I always get a kick out of video chatting with my parents. If I’m not looking up their noses, I’m talking to the ceiling. Camera position is critical. If your web cam isn’t at eye level, raise it (put a stack of books under a laptop, lower your chair, etc). It’s okay to look down at your notes, but only for a glance.

#2 – Ignore Personal Appearance

We’re watching you – usually far more up close than we would in person.  We don’t want to see bits of your breakfast on your cheek. Nor do we want to see you sweat. Keep water beside you. Take deep breaths to relax. Brush on translucent powder to keep the shine off. If you don’t think this is important, watch Nixon’s first TV debate with JFK.

#1 – Get Flustered by Their Mistakes

Between 60-90 percent of a message’s effect comes from non-verbal cues. That’s why video meetings are such a great business tool. Think of all you leave on the table if you’re not using the camera. However, since virtual presenting doesn’t come naturally to most, mistakes will happen. If you’re can be self-deprecating or laugh at your blunders, your audience will relate to you, trust you and soak up your wisdom.

Amanda Bergen is principal at Stage Harbor Communications, Email her at
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