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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.

Serious Subject? Try a Little Humor

Humor is a great way to get attention and inspire fresh perspectives. It’s also a tool too often overlooked with experiential marketing strategies aimed at professional audiences.

We’re not just talking about a joke or two to warm up a crowd. We’re talking theming that pushes the envelope. Funny takes on traditionally sober topics. Devices and delivery styles that get people laughing, then thinking, then nodding their heads.

The MPG team had tons of fun helping Crest and Oral-B reach out to healthcare professionals who work with pregnant women. Recent research shows a woman’s oral health can have a big impact on her pregnancy and perhaps even the health of her baby.

We could have gone the straight-faced route, which would have been more than appropriate for the venue: The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses Convention (AWHONN). But we’d heard that nurses are a fun-loving crowd, so we used a lighter touch.

Enter the “Dirty Mouth Moms”

Because most pregnant women are prone to gingivitis (gum inflammation caused by plaque build-up) and probably don’t know it, we educated the nurses in our audience that most of their patients have “dirty” mouths. We brought the theme to life with bleeped-out words and images of pregnant women covering their mouths in surprise, then used it as a springboard to share how Crest, Oral-B and the March of Dimes can help.

Nurses loved the approach, and stuck around to learn about how their guidance and recommendations can help create healthier moms and stronger babies.

To see more of our work at AWHONN, check out our website. And if you’re interested in bringing a little humor to your next professional engagement, consider these tips.

Know Your audience. If you’re unexperienced with engaging a certain group, leverage any professional advisory panels your company might have, or even territory managers who interact with them regularly, to find out what kinds of messaging and approaches are likely to resonate.

Dare to be irreverent. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Look at the problem you’re trying to solve through many different lenses. Brainstorm freely—even around topics that may be considered untouchable. You can always reign yourself back in as you refine concepts and content.

Test it out. Run your concept past several representatives of the audience you’re trying to engage. Do they think it will work overall? Are there aspects that should be tweaked in order to avoid offending? If possible, share draft scripts as well to ensure you’re walking the right side of the line.

Commit. Once you’ve decided to go humorous and you’ve done your homework, go whole-heartedly. Your audience will go along if you’re confident in your delivery and committed to your comedy. Win them over, get them chuckling, and they’ll be more receptive to your overall message.

To Glimpse the True Magic of Teamwork, Look Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes with MPG at AAD 2016

At the end of every project, we spend several hours sifting through photos. For our clients, we pull the ones that best document the experience. The best of the best go to our website and other marketing materials. And then there are the photos no one else gets to see: behind-the-scenes shots of our teammates in rehearsal, setting up, and having fun with one another.

These images are a testament to the intense preparation that happens before “show time.” Our professional presenters and brand ambassadors are the best in the industry, so they make delivering messages and first-class hospitality look easy. But every day on the show floor represents hours of rehearsal and thought, from the way our talent moves during a presentation to the cut of their jackets and the color of their ties.

Behind the Scenes with MPG at AAD 2016

Browse through these pre-show photos, and you’ll see people running their lines over and over, testing and re-testing demos, tweaking the emphasis of key messages, and collaborating to make sure every team member knows where to be and what to do, even when the unexpected occurs.

Our exhibit designers and technical crew are busy, too. They’re obsessing over lighting, wrapping walls in beautiful printed fabric, tweaking sound levels to perfection in our theater, and setting up displays with the eye of an expert retailer.

Behind the Scenes with MPG at AAD 2016

All of these are represented in photos from the P&G skin care booth at last month’s American Academy of Dermatology Meeting. Our team and brand partners set a new bar for excellence with a freshly updated environment, a science-focused main presentation, and demos that brought brand science and benefits to life. More than 4,100 dermatologists spent an average of 15 minutes in our exhibit space. 95% reported that the content they received was relevant to them and their patients. And on average, 90% said they were more likely to recommend the featured products after visiting our demo stations.

BackstageCollage1

But something else comes to life when you look at behind-the-scenes photos from this show and others. You see the friendships that allow us to trust and help one another be our best—which means our clients are represented at their best. You see the fun, which not only propels us through long days but keeps us coming back show after show. Those unguarded, even silly, moments form the foundation of a team that is completely and joyfully committed to delivering memorable experiences for our clients.

This is why we look forward to post-show photo reviews. The polished and posed images capture the excellence. But those backstage moments are often where the real magic happens.

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MPG Video Production: Capturing HD Passion for an HD Innovation

MPG’s production team shoots a video featuring Paul Sagel, inventor of Crest Pro-Health [HD].

Sometimes, you’re so proud of a project you want to tell people yourself why it’s so great. Forget slick commercials and carefully crafted benefit statements. Sometimes, the only way to communicate your passion is to speak directly to your audience—raw and unscripted.

That’s how P&G scientist Paul Sagel felt about his latest invention, Crest Pro-Health [HD]. The first-of-its-kind toothpaste and gel system has been wow-ing consumers since it was launched in January—which wasn’t a surprise to Paul, since the product wow-d him while he was developing it.

Ads for the product were doing fine, but Paul felt they were missing the story behind the innovation. He wanted to communicate just how incredible the results are. And he wanted people to see and feel that excitement, directly from him.

When he called us to the lab to discuss his idea, we wished we’d brought a camera to capture the energy as he talked about Crest Pro-Health [HD]. It truly was infectious. And we couldn’t wait to help make his vision a reality.

Paul2

As we prepared for our shoot, the idea evolved from the original completely unrehearsed concept. We suggested filming in an electronics store to help illustrate that Crest Pro-Health [HD] really is HD for your mouth. And we devised a one-take lab-to-store idea that allowed Paul to set up his scientific credentials while maintaining an element of fun.

As for the script, we helped organize the talking points, but in the end it was all up to Paul. And he delivered! The video has started making the rounds of Crest’s social media outlets, and so far the response is great. Take a look. If you’re as excited as we are, share the video and try Crest Pro-Health [HD] yourself!

A+ Tips for Effective Trade Show Exhibits

We love getting great report cards as much as anyone this time of year. And we believe in celebrating success, which is why we’re trumpeting our latest A+ scores like a proud mom on Facebook.

But we also believe in sharing our secrets. Because the effective trade show strategies that earned our client, Crest + Oral-B, such great results at the Chicago Dental Society’s Midwinter Meeting are tactics all exhibitors can learn from.

Here’s what the Exhibiting Effectiveness Evaluation, conducted by Competitive Edge and Trade Shows Plus, had to say about the Crest + Oral-B  experience in Chicago, PLUS tips on how you can get similarly great results.

Our booth for Crest + Oral-B included a hands-on science demo area, brushing stations for sampling, and a live presentation theater, where two professional presenters delivered a news-themed message about Crest and Oral-B's latest innovations.

Our booth included a hands-on science demo area, brushing stations for sampling, and a live presentation theater, where two professional presenters delivered a news-themed deep dive into Crest and Oral-B’s latest innovations.

The overall experience scored 100% compared to all other exhibitors at the show.

OverallUseThisExhibit Presentation

This category evaluated the general impression the exhibit made on the show floor, and our scores were nearly perfect. Here’s a sampling of comments: “Theme was effective/creative. Good overall exhibit design. Good graphics. Good lighting. Good use of A/V. Creative/Imaginative approach to exhibit/messaging. Wow. Amazing.”

ExhibitPresentation

 

How can you get similar results?

Invest in good booth design. Create something inviting that brings your brand to life with smart use of equity colors and graphics. But keep it versatile. The goal is to get multiple years of use out of your booth with the ability to switch out themes and change up the experience each year.

Be bold, and be seen. We can’t stress enough the importance of a big, eye-catching overhead banner, along with  branded signage high enough to be seen over other exhibits.

Don’t skimp on lighting. Even the best-lit convention hall won’t make your exhibit look its best. Good lighting not only helps your investment shine, it actually enhances the experience for your guests.

Layer in a theme. Since Crest + Oral-B had so many new innovations last season, we carried a news theme throughout the booth. Theming is an extra step that can help you avoid dry, boring presentations and demos.

 

Product Presentation

Here, our scores were 5s across the board. Comments included: “Theater is Disney-off-the-chart. Product innovation demos are excellent. Staging is incredible.”

ProductPresentation

 

 

How can you get similar results?

Do a presentation or demo – or both! Of course we love live presentations — they work! And for many products, a demo should be a no-brainer. Here are some ideas for doing them right.

– Be entertaining. But don’t feel pressured to do Disney. Our audiences have come to expect nothing but the best from Crest + Oral-B, so we’re constantly raising the bar on our theater experiences. The real lesson is to incorporate some element of entertainment, whether it simply be multiple monitors, a storytelling approach, or that fun theme we mentioned above.

Use professional presenters. Giving a great presentation at a corporate meeting is different from engaging and entertaining crowds four times an hour for three days straight. Professional presenters will deliver your message with flair every single time.

 

Exhibit Staff

Our scores were A+ here, too. Just look at those comments!

ExhibitStaff

How can you get similar results?

Go pro. Hire seasoned hosts with the energy and know-how to represent your company with class. Or at least provide your internal team with training on how to be as engaging and helpful as possible on the trade show floor.

Create a uniform look. Matching shirts, ties, and other clothing items not only make your team look good, they make it easy for guests to figure out whom to approach when they’re ready for a conversation.

The final lesson? With good planning, great staffing, and a touch of entertainment, you can create a more effective trade show exhibit that earns top grades from your target audience. Interested in seeing how MPG can help? Check out our Work and our Services.

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Spring Cleaning Tips for Great Tradeshow Exhibits

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Photo courtesy of Chiot’s Run, via Flickr

Winter is over, and many of us are wrapping up a successful trade show season. Now is the perfect time to review your exhibits and related events. Could they be fresher, more efficient, and more relevant to your audience?

Spring cleaning doesn’t have to mean an overhaul. Just make sure you’re getting the most out of every piece in your program, starting with clearing out clutter. Keep an eye out for:

Meaningless Jargon – Everyone offers an innovative, cutting-edge solution. And these overused terms are classic examples of “telling” rather than “showing.” We might not be able to trim all of these filler words out of presentations, graphics and related materials, but we can be mindful of falling back on them when a richer, more precise story could be told.

Cluttered Messaging – Are your presentations too long? Graphics laden with copy? Can a visitor look at your booth and immediately tell what you do or sell? Streamlining, shortening and creating areas of clear focus will create a more enjoyable experience for your guests, not to mention a more successful showing for your company.

Pieces that Aren’t Pulling their Weight – Do you have monitors that have gone ignored? Are there touchscreens no one touches? Consider working neglected technology into a demo. Or, transform dead spaces into a presentation area.

Shows that Aren’t Showing a Return – Most of us have at least one convention or trade show that seems to require more energy than it’s worth. If you trimmed it from your schedule, would it free up time and budget that could go toward shows that really improve your bottom line?

Now that you’ve cleared out some dead weight, it’s time for the next step: sprucing up. How can you give your program a fresh face without re-doing everything?

Fix wear and tear. If your exhibit house hasn’t done this already, have them repair scratched paneling, scuffed corners, dingy carpeting and other damage caused by months on the road.

Update graphics. Strategic re-skinning can give your booth a whole new look. Or focus on a few of your most impactful graphics to make branding more cohesive, freshen your messaging, and better showcase featured products.

Add interactivity. Bring your story to life with a live presentation. Let visitors experience your product with a hands-on demo. Find ways to work human interactions into your booth, vs. passive videos and displays. Even the small step of hiring professional hosts to welcome visitors to your booth will set you apart and set the stage for a better, fresher experience.

For more ideas on updating your booth without breaking the bank, contact us. A live presentation may be the key to breathing new life into an existing exhibit.

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8 Tradeshow Tips to Win Over Anyone

Valentines2

With Valentine’s Day coming, we’ve been thinking about how live events—especially trade shows—are a lot like speed dating.

Surrounded by primped and primed competition, you have just moments to stand out. You must intrigue your audience, build trust, and make them want to take the relationship to the next level. You’re creating connections with the potential to turn into much more.

Whether your field is serious, technical or more conducive to fun, we’ve got a formula—a love potion, if you will—that can give you an edge over the others:

#1. Be attractive. Great booth design is important. You don’t have to be the biggest on the floor, but do invest in looking your best. That includes staffing. In addition to your most personable team members, consider hiring professional hosts to welcome visitors into your space. From the minute they step onto your footprint, your visitors should feel taken care of and valued.

#2. Offer an experience. Don’t just tell why your solution is best. Let your audience try it for themselves through guided sampling and hands-on demos. If visitors can’t experience your product live, create an activity that demonstrates the benefits in a unique way.

#3. Be emotional. Create a journey connecting your product or solution to your visitors’ everyday needs and desires. Demonstrate how your brand improves lives. Tell a story that tugs at the heartstrings, and help your audience envision a bigger picture.

#4. Make it fun. Or, if you’re striking a more serious tone, be powerful. Impactful. Interactive. All of this adds up to enjoyable, which will make your audience glad they decided to spend time with you.

#5. Be real. Amazing technological advances aside, it’s still hard to fall in love with a touchscreen. So make sure your experience has a healthy amount of human interaction. One-on-one encounters are one of the best reasons to exhibit at tradeshows, so don’t leave your visitors in front of machines. Engage them the old-fashioned way – with a handshake and an offer to share more.

#6. Create an easy traffic flow. Good storytelling has a sequence, and a great experience includes not having to jostle through crowds or guess what to do next. Combine booth design with signage and professional hosts to help visitors make their way smoothly through your space while getting the most from your message.

#7. Be memorable. If you’ve done all of the above, visitors should walk away remembering you. But don’t leave it to chance. A unique, high-quality parting gift can be the spark that reminds someone to seek you out for more in-depth talks.

#8. Make it a snap to follow up. Now that you’ve captivated your prospects, don’t let them leave without a clear invitation and a way to contact you. Nurture the relationship by following up and staying in touch.

For more on the benefits of face-to-face marketing, check out our post on the power of a great live presentation.

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We Don’t Want A Lot for Christmas…

MPGList

Another year ending—already? We were just catching our breath from the whirlwind of 2014! In the unique business of live marketing, we consider ourselves blessed. With our amazing team and clients, plus exciting projects on the horizon, we have all we need.

But if Santa still wants to send us a little something extra, we don’t mind making a list.

All we want for Christmas is…

Comfy Shoes – Can the elves make heels that feel like walking on cotton balls, even after 8 hours on a trade show floor? We’ll take 100 pairs.

Friendly Skies – Please gift the airline industry with zero flight delays, minimal turbulence, and the will to bring down ridiculous fares. Our frequently traveling team members will be grateful.

Great Stories – More fun, inspiring and innovative messages mean more memorable experiences for us to create. We love that!

Kindred Spirits ­ Our clients, partners and team members just “click.” So it feels like an embarrassment of riches to ask for more. But who doesn’t love connecting with awesome people?

New Challenges Give us that that tough assignment, that impenetrable brief, the idea no one’s sure what to do with—and watch us make it great.

Health and Happiness for All We hope our friends, family, co-workers and clients have a wonderful holiday. And best wishes for a successful, joy-filled 2015!

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