Six Tips for Effective Virtual Presentations

A woman giving a virtual presentation

“The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher”

 – Chinese Proverb

If we could pick one theme for 2020 so far, it would be “adapt.” COVID-19 has forced us to change how we approach nearly every aspect of our lives. For many, that’s meant moving events that would normally be live into a virtual space.

After a couple of months online, it should be obvious that nothing can replace the live experience. The yearning we all feel to get back to socializing and gathering tells us that interacting face-to-face is a deeply human need. And for that reason, we’re confident in the bright future of live events. When we are able to safely come together again at conventions, meetings and other venues, enthusiasm for these in-person interactions will translate to even better ROI.

Until then, virtual events are a way of adapting—a stop-gap that allows engagement to continue and investments to be salvaged. There are benefits to be sure: one is ease of tracking and measuring results. Even when live events return, experts think online components will stick around.

For now, many are still figuring out best practices for pivoting to virtual. If you find yourself presenting in front of your computer screen instead of a live audience, you might be nervous. The good news is that the fundamentals of a great presentation have not changed. With some adaptations, you can still engage your audience and make your message memorable.

Shorter is (Even) Better – Our running-time rule for live presentations is ten minutes at most. Attention spans are even shorter online. Shoot for eight minutes or less. For a crisp, compelling message, a good script writer is your best friend. Or consider an interview format with a professional moderator. Conversations hold attention better than long monologues.

Practice is (Even More) Important – Plan at least two rehearsals on the platform you’ll be using. The first should be a dry run to ensure your equipment is working correctly. The second should be a dress rehearsal. Get used to not having live audience feedback. Make sure that elements like background and camera angles are correct (see tips below). This is your chance to make sure you look and sound your best, so make the most of it!

Know How to Present Yourself – Audiences are used to a more casual look online, but there are some fundamentals to keep in mind:

– Make sure your background is uncluttered, free of inappropriate materials, and not open to through-traffic. A branded backdrop could be a good option.

– Position yourself so your upper body is framed, not too close to the screen and not too far away.

– The camera should capture you straight on, not from below.

– Lighting is especially important. Go for natural light, but not behind you (for example, don’t sit in front of a window.) To mitigate lighting issues, consider investing in a ring light.

– Dress professionally. Casual may be acceptable, but a ratty t-shirt won’t cut it. Wear simple, plain- colored clothing, avoiding stripes and other patterns.

– Audio is more important than ever, so don’t rely on your computer’s microphone or a phone connection. Go for a USB computer connected microphone or directional mic, if possible.

– Be energetic! Without live audience interaction, and with a limited ability to move around, it’s easy to let your energy level droop. Stay upbeat.

Have a Plan B – Glitches are a common drawback to virtual experiences. Your technology may fail. Your internet may cut out. Expect these things will happen and come up with a strategy for every one. Short, pre-recorded content “pods” can fill unexpected downtimes. Or a professional host can keep your audience entertained with banter while you get back up and running. Work closely with your broader team and partners to share resources, troubleshoot and back each other up behind the scenes.

Consider Pre-Recording  – Pre-recorded video can minimize unexpected interruptions and tech issues. Rather than doing your presentation live, consider a “hybrid,” where your presentation is recorded, and you host a live chat alongside it.

Seek Out a Pro – To make the very best impression, you can’t beat a professional presenter. They’re skilled at making messages memorable no matter the venue or format, and you might be surprised how affordable they are, especially without expenses like travel involved.

Our team at Moening Presentation Group includes script writers, video editors, content specialists, and professional presenters and hosts—everything you need to make your presentation the best it can be. Contact us to talk about how we can help you shine – virtually today and live tomorrow.

Yearning – And Preparing For – A Return to In-Person Events

People at an event

Times like these can teach us a lot: What a precious gift good health is, the importance of family, how to be flexible when our work and personal lives are upended. One of the most visceral lessons we’re learning is just how much people need contact with other people.

Not on screens, but in-person, face-to-face, honest-to-goodness physical interaction.

Even our most introverted team members are yearning to get together with friends, barbeque with the neighbors, and shop for non-necessities at a crowded market. Can you imagine how great it will feel to go to a birthday party again, eat at a bustling restaurant, attend a baseball game or see your favorite performer live in concert with fellow fans?

When all is normal, it’s easy to overlook how important these experiences are. When we no longer have them, we realize how much we crave connections—not just looking at each other through the windows of our computers, but looking into each other’s faces without barriers.

It’s this craving that gives us hope, not just personally but professionally, as we look at the future of live events.

For those of us who make our living creating live experiences, our businesses are being challenged in unexpected and unprecedented ways. We went from full schedules and rosy outlooks to cancellations and uncertainty as gathering in large groups has become inadvisable and even prohibited.

We’re exploring ways to weather the storm, helping our clients continue connecting with audiences in all of the ways that are currently possible. And we’re working on ways to evolve once the prohibitions are lifted. Because when we reach the other side, we think live events will have new importance. People will be hungry to connect and learn and share experiences together.

We know things will look and operate differently. We are committed to creatively addressing challenges so attendees can enjoy experiences in ways that are compelling and safe. It’s not just important to our business and our clients, it’s important to us as humans. Because we predict that when in-person events start again, they will be even more meaningful now that we’ve experienced life without them.

For many, the world will never be the same. We send our heartfelt prayers to those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19. We send gratitude to the doctors and nurses who have cared for us and those we care about, to the workers who have helped keep stores stocked and essential services running. And we send love to you.

We hope you stay well, that you find the support you need—mentally, spiritually, financially, or all of the above. And we look forward to emerging from this experience with you, to evolving with our industry, and to serving our clients – and each other – better than ever.

 

Tips for Working From Home – From Our Team to Yours

Woman working from home

The coronavirus outbreak has people making changes most never imagined just a few weeks ago. For many of us, that means suddenly working from home. If you’re not accustomed to working from home, you probably have questions:

“How will I stay focused?”

“How do I avoid raiding my pantry, stuffing my face with snack food?”

“How can I keep from getting restless without human interaction?”

One way MPG has stayed “lean and mean” is by avoiding the overhead costs of a central office. All team members work from home. We collaborate online and by phone. We meet in person when we need to. And we love it!

Working from home can be an adjustment, but we’ve got 10 tips to make it smoother. And you might find you get more done, more efficiently, without the extra time it takes to shuffle to and from meetings, commute, and make small talk with your co-workers. You’ve got this!

#1: Maintain regular hours just like you would at an office. Don’t fall prey to the idea that you should be doing housework on top of your other duties. Save it for “non-work” time.

#2: Find a dedicated space away from distractions. Even better if you can set up an area that’s just for work. Going there will help you make the psychological switch from “home” to “office.”

#3: Dress for success. We know it’s tempting to stay in your bathrobe, but we actually are more productive when we’re dressed for the part.

#4: Start and end your day with a routine. Get in a workout or enjoy a cup of coffee before diving into the day’s tasks. Finish up by answering emails, then try to leave work at “work” and enjoy time with your family.

#5: Set ground rules for family members and friends. Just because you’re home, it doesn’t mean you’re available for every little thing. Unless it’s an emergency, let them know you’re “Do Not Disturb.” Got a partner not working from home who feels all the chores should now be done during the day? Refer them to our first tip. When you’re working, you’re working, not multitasking on laundry, too.

#6: Connect virtually. If you crave social interaction, then video chat and other virtual meeting solutions are the answer. While you’re getting your work-friend fix, you can…

#7: Hold each other accountable. Promise to get a certain number of tasks done, or work a certain number of minutes uninterrupted, before rewarding yourself with some social time or internet surfing.

#8: Plan/prepare meals ahead of time. To avoid grazing, pack your lunch like you would for the office. Also, shop with this new reality in mind. If you know you’ll be tempted with certain treats in the house, then don’t buy them!

#9: Take mandatory “move it” breaks. When you’re not moving around an office, walking to lunch, or taking the stairs in a building, it’s easy to become sedentary. Get out of your chair. Take a walk, stretch… set alarms to remind yourself every hour.

#10: Know you’re doing the right thing. Social distancing is stressful on so many levels, but it’s necessary to help keep each other as healthy as possible and avoid overwhelming our healthcare system. Life will return to normal, and you’ll be able to return to your regular work situation relatively soon. For now, take comfort in knowing you’re doing your part for the good of yourself and those around you.

Why You Need a Tradeshow Presentation in 2020

If your marketing plan includes exhibiting at trade shows, then you need a live presentation.

Why? Here are five reasons a trade show presentation, done right, can be one of your most effective tools for maximizing lead count and building relationships.

#1: It grabs attention – Even the most beautifully designed booth is a snooze-fest without something going on inside. Not everyone will feel up for a game, and touchscreens are so ubiquitous that few people find them exciting anymore. A presentation with an engaging theme, professional talent, and eye-catching visuals brings a little showbiz to your space. Put it in a prominent spot, and it signals to passers-by that you’re worth stopping for.

#2: It captures many eyes at once – Instead of only allowing a few people to participate, a trade show presentation engages a crowd, maximizing the number of people who can be a part of the experience.

#3: It communicates your full message – A good presentation combines storytelling with expert timing to make sure your audience hears and sees everything you want them to hear and see.

#4: It takes the pressure off your staff – With public speaking left to the pros, your people can focus on engaging one-on-one and closing sales. An effective tradeshow presentation helps qualify leads, ensuring that everyone you interact with knows the basics and is ready to go in-depth.

#5: It’s not as expensive as you think! Tradeshow presentations can be as elaborate as your budget allows, with video, multiple presenters—even turntables, flashy lights and musical numbers. But you can be just as effective with a compelling product demo, or a single presenter and some well-done Powerpoint slides.

Our MPG team can help craft just the right approach; contact us to talk about how we can bring the magic of live presentations to your 2020 marketing plan.

Trade Show Booth Design Tips: Floorplan First!

You’re investing in a new tradeshow booth, and it has to look stunning, drawing visitors from across a crowded room. It has to tell a story about your brand, products and services. It also has to make relationship building easy. After all, face-to-face marketing is the #1 reason to exhibit at trade shows, right?

Designing a new trade show exhibit can be exciting. But before you look at cool finishes and technologies, you should accomplish one important task that might not feel as fun: You have to get the floorplan right.

It isn’t glamorous. It can be time-consuming. But the payoff is a booth that delivers on your investment by really working for you.

It’s about storytelling. The floorplan lets you plot out how you want visitors to experience your content. Think about building their knowledge and interest as they make their way through your space.

It’s about flow. Design your space so people can move comfortably through it. Avoid bottlenecks, and eliminate confusion with clear entrances and exits. Ensure that gathering areas are big enough to handle peak capacity. Pro tip: Tape out the floorplan in a large room, and physically experience it to see how it feels and find unexpected traffic snarls.

It’s about creating a great experience for your audience. When visitors are comfortable, when they can tell an experience has been well thought-out, they feel taken care of.

It’s about setting your team up for success. Decide how you want your reps to interact with guests, then create spaces that facilitate. If you’re selling, for example, your floorplan might place your team at the end, after guests have had an opportunity to learn about your innovations. Or you might place huddle spaces strategically throughout the booth for one-on-one conversations.

It’s the foundation of a beautiful design. Stunning shapes, impressive tech, beautiful materials… all these will be layered onto of a core experience that can be enabled and enhanced by your designers’ creativity.

At MPG, we tell clients the floorplan is often the hardest part of the process. Once we get it right, our designers are free to work their magic, while we can be confident the final product will not only look amazing, but successfully deliver on our client’s objectives.

To learn more about how MPG can help design your next trade show booth, contact us today.

Make Magic by Expertly Mixing Education and Entertainment at Your Next Event

MPG hired a magician to help entertain dental hygienists at Crest + Oral-B's annual ADHA breakfast

How do you show 700 dental hygienists you appreciate them at 7:30 a.m.? By putting on a great show!

Crest and Oral-B attend the American Dental Hygienists Association’s annual conference to connect with hygienists and showcase all the ways that the brands support their profession. That’s because hygienists are vital to improving oral health, and they are major recommenders of oral care products.

Crest and Oral-B show their love by hosting a breakfast event that has become a “must attend” at the conference. It includes a healthy helping of product information and promotion for the brands’ Hygienist Proud program, but the key to success is an expert mix of education and entertainment. (For highlights, check out our video.)

If you’re hosting a VIP gathering and want to strike the right balance of fun and information, consider these tips:

Craft an Engaging Theme – It grabs peoples’ attention and opens the door for creative approaches to content. Our most recent ADHA breakfast featured a magician, so we created the tagline, “Supporting You and the Magic You Do,” then tied all elements to it.

Hire a Great Act – Taking a break for music, dance, a comedian or other entertainer not only makes the event more enjoyable, it can help with pacing. Have them perform one long set, or several shorter ones as intervals between more serious material.

Get an Experienced Emcee – A professional host can keep things moving, engage the audience, and put everyone from speakers to special guests at ease. Don’t leave this important role to someone on your team, no matter how great they are in front of a crowd. Trust us on this one, you need a pro.

Keep it Crisp – When developing your event script, try to keep the entire production under an hour. Be mindful of how long any single person or group is onstage. You want your audience to leave wanting more, not worrying they’ll be late to their next class or meeting.

Use Great Visuals – Hiring someone to create an event logo, a custom template, and even a few animations will pay off. Strive to keep a good variety of visuals onscreen at all times, from Powerpoint or Keynote slides to IMAG, which can be coordinated with your production company.

Speaking of which, MPG can help you engage, educate and entertain any audience. Contact us to chat about how we can make your next event a “must attend.”

 

<3 Your Audience by Putting a Little Love in Your Presentations

Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

A presentation is a bit like a first date. You want to be likeable. You want to make a meaningful connection. And you want to leave your audience wanting more. A good presentation can be the start of a beautiful relationship. So whether you’re appearing at a trade show or hosting an in-depth meeting session, try these tips for standing out and helping your audience feel the love.

Make It More About Them, Less About You – Craft your content around what will be meaningful to them. It’s fine if your end goal is sales, but offer something they can’t find anywhere else, too — unique insights, new research, or even just a memorable experience.

Respect Their Time – For a trade show booth, the ideal presentation runs between five to eight minutes. For longer presentations, try to break things up into shorter, sweeter segments. And don’t forget to simply thank people for spending time with you. It’s a simple gesture that goes a long way.

Engage Their Senses – For presentations detailing the science behind shampoo, we’ve passed around vials to smell and hair swatches to feel. We’ve even filled a theater with bubbles. Go beyond visuals, when possible, to craft experiences that feel immersive.

Entertain if You Can – For longer events especially, think about creative ways to deliver your content. Could you involve musicians? Acrobats? Dancers? Presentations of any length can benefit from audience involvement. And a fun theme can make even the most dry content feel fresh.

Make Them Comfortable – Consider the environment overall. If you’re presenting at a trade show, remember your visitors have been on their feet for hours and provide seating. For longer sessions in bigger spaces, make sure it’s easy to see, hear and get involved with the action.

Give Gifts – If your industry allows it, reward your audience with free samples or fun swag.

Follow Up – Don’t ghost them when the event’s over. Ask your audience to opt in for future communication, then send a little something of extra value: Exclusive content or a special offer. Remember, face-to-face marketing is all about building relationships.

Happy Valentine’s Day from MPG. To see if we’re a good match for your brand and message, contact us today.

 

Experiential Marketing White Elephants: Turn Challenges Into Gifts With These Tips

Happy holidays from MPG! As the year comes to an end, many of our clients are creating exciting new marketing experiences for 2019. Most projects, however, come with a few white elephants—challenges and line items that no one really enjoys, but everyone has to make the best of.

If that sounds like your next project, check out these tips for transforming some common live marketing white elephants into gifts your audience will love.

Challenge: Old booth or exhibit that generates little traffic

Transformational Tip: Consider adding a live presentation or live demos. Touchscreens and graphics rarely capture or hold attention. But a live person delivering your message creates instant engagement, plus the impression that your space is a “must visit.” Why be static and dull when you can tell a complete story with a personal touch?

Challenge: Highly technical content with lots of jargon

Transformational Tip: Find a theme that allows you to simplify while engaging your audience’s imagination and emotions. If you’re marketing to an audience of subject matter experts, you don’t want to dumb it down. But a layer of storytelling can bring your message to life and make it more memorable.

Challenge: Too much content

Transformational Tip: Spread it out over several mediums. Keeping experiences under five minutes—eight minutes max—keeps people from getting bored. Capture their attention first. Then post content experts nearby, hand out supplemental material, or direct your audience to a website.

Challenge: Too many cooks

Transformational Tip: It’s common to have a lot of stakeholders giving input and approval throughout the creative process. To minimize delays and bottlenecks, create a clear schedule with plenty of time for everyone to weigh in. Then create one point of contact between your internal team and your agencies.

Challenge: Unmotivated team

Transformational Tip: Face-to-face marketing is a specialty. Expecting your sales team to sparkle at a trade show for 8 hours a day may be unrealistic. Professional brand ambassadors, on the other hand, are experts at drawing people in, communicating full messages, and maintaining friendly smiles, even when their feet are killing them.

Do you have a project that could use transforming? Contact us to find out how we can make your message shine.

Presentation Best Practices: Easy Tips for Effective Presentations

Presentation Best Practices

At MPG, we’ve built our business around great presentations. We make them fun. We make them interactive. We make them educational, or thought-provoking, or heartwarming… whatever best tells our clients’ stories. And we make them every day. It’s what we do.

It may not be what you do. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create a presentation that wows. By following a few presentation best practices, you can make your message engaging and memorable, whether you’re giving a talk to co-workers or delivering a keynote address to hundreds.

First, know your audience. What do they want to learn from you? What do they already know (or think they know)? What kind of tone is likely to resonate with them? Are they super serious, or would they enjoy something lighter?

Keep it short. We’ve found that the most effective presentations run about five to eight minutes. Choose no more than three key points, and direct your audience to supplemental materials like a website if they want to learn more.

Keep it simple. Look for a “hook” that captures your main message, then repeat it several times, both visually and in your script. Feel like you’re diving too deep into a topic? Trust that instinct! Better to leave them wanting more, than let them walk away numb from information overload.

Let your visuals do the work (but not all of it). Your audience should be paying attention to you, not trying to read your PowerPoint slides. Choose visuals that complement what you’re saying, rather than repeat it. Think bold single images vs. tons of bullet-points.

Break it up. Hold your audience’s attention by incorporating other voices and infusing freshness wherever possible. If you can weave in video, GIFs or animations, do it! Dual presenters, or an interview format, can help as well.

Involve the audience. Invite them to play a game. Poll them, either with technology or a show of hands. Get them shouting a catch phrase, or out of their seats doing some simple dance moves. People are more likely to remember an experience that engaged vs. a dry lecture.

Practice, practice, practice! Finish your script and polish your visuals with plenty of time to rehearse. We offer presentation coaching to help you be your very best. When you’re at ease, your audience will be more likely to trust you and remember what you’ve shared with them.

Instead of crafting your own presentation, why not let MPG do it? We’re experts at professional interactive, multimedia presentations for events of all sizes. Contact us to chat about how we can help put your message in the spotlight.

Interactive Games for Presentations: Make It Memorable By Making It Fun

Interactive games for presentations

Want to make your next presentation memorable? Then get the audience involved. Tactics as simple as questions that require a show of hands can pull people out of passive-listening mode. But if you really want them engaged with your message, then interactive games could be a winning strategy.

High-tech, low-tech, sophisticated or silly, games give your audience a stake in the experience. To find the right one for your presentation, start with a few questions.

What’s my tone? If your topic is light and your audience is up for a good time, you can be humorous—even zany. Ask yourself how far you can push before it feels like “too much.” Even with a serious subject, games are still a viable option. Go for something like audience polling, and keep the approach more buttoned-up.

What’s my objective? Want to drive home a key message? Try a game that includes trivia or call and response. If you want to collect information from your audience or gauge their knowledge, then surveys or polls are a good bet. And if you just want to infuse a little fun, then go for something that gets them out of their seats, competing, and smiling.

What’s my budget? Audience response systems, touchscreens and other high-tech game interfaces are impressive if you can afford them. If not, there are plenty of options that cost little to nothing.

Once you know your goals and parameters, you’re ready to get gaming. Here are some of MPG’s top interactive games for presentations.

Classic Games – For Crest and Oral-B each year, we’re tasked with engaging people as they wait to get into our convention booth. Our objective is to help pass the time, prep them for what’s coming, and reinforce some key product messages. Dental professionals like to have fun, so we’ve done versions of Family Feud, Pictionary and even “hangman” with a Crest + Oral-B twist.

Classic games are great because nearly everyone is familiar with them. So you spend less time explaining and more time having fun.

A few tips:

– Most classic games can be adapted to fit your presentation theme. Choose one based on how it engages the audience, then tweak the name, visuals and other elements.

– Most classic games require audience members to answer questions in order to score or advance. So they’re great for driving home key messages and providing jump-off points for deeper dives.

– Some classic game templates are available in Powerpoint, or they’re easy to create. For a game as simple as tic tac toe, all you need is a dry erase board.

Audience Response:  These work well in more structured presentations. And with a range of technologies and costs, it’s not hard to find one that fits your budget. You can take polls or ask the audience survey questions. You can even get segments of the audience competing against each-other. Challenge yourself to be creative and make it fun.

Interactive games for presentations

Low-Tech, High-Impact: No money for bells and whistles? These games require little more than a good presenter and a willing audience.

– Elimination: Have everyone in the audience stand, then ask segments to sit based on criteria such as years in their profession. The last people standing should represent an achievement or point of view that your presenter can elaborate on or celebrate.

– Word of the Day: Audience members vote, by show of hands or applause, on a word or phrase that the presenter must weave into his or her remarks.

– Call and Response: Whenever the presenter says a certain word or phrase, the audience must respond with their own phrase and/or action.

– Singalong: Re-write the lyrics to a popular song, put it onscreen, then invite the audience to help sing it. For extra fun, add some choreography.

Not sure whether a game is the right approach for your next presentation? Chat with MPG. We’ll craft a strategy guaranteed to connect with your audience, then execute with excellence.

 

 

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