Every other week our product team completes an iteration and holds a demo meeting to showcase new features, improvements, comps, spike results, etc. We do this meeting online via LiveMeeting & a phone conference system. We average around 50 participants (including customers & partners!) and 4-8 presenters each week. It’s a circus and we’ve learned a lot…
1. Be a participant too – If you are the organizer of the meeting and not a solo presenter you need to know what the viewers are seeing. I typically log into our meetings as both the presenter and as an attendee on a separate machine. This way I get a sense of how the content & demos are translating for everyone else. If you are busy presenting make sure you have someone else playing the observer role to give you feedback.
2. Have a presenter backchannel – Our team is always on IM and our demo presentations are no exception. It’s a great way to pass along signals like “Lets wrap this up” or “You’ve got time for one more”.
3. Log in early and test the links – No one likes hearing whatever terrible hold music your company has and it’s no fun making sure the links work in the first 5 minutes of the meeting.
4. Practice Demos in Advance – I always know ahead of time what demos are going to go better than others. The best demos are the ones done by the people that sent me a screencast before the meeting. They’ve already figured out the rough script (all it takes is one/two tries really) and tend to keep them more concise & to the point without “click-wandering” through the feature.
5. Assume people will miss the event – And post the results, videos, & recordings afterwards to get feedback from people that couldn’t make it live.
6. Bump up the color settings – Livemeeting, in particular, defaults to 256 colors. If most of your participants are going to have a broadband connection please adjust the colors up. Here is a quick tutorial…
Share your slides or application.
Hover at the top of the screen to pull down this menu…
Click sharing options
Open the display tab on the sharing options screen
Change to 16 or 24 bit color.
Rejoice at the glory of broadband meetings!
Remember that all the presenters need to do this since there is no “Meeting Default” that I’ve found.
7. Be aware of your screen size – Not everyone in the world has a 24”cinema display 2560-by-1600-pixel resolution screen. Either adjust your resolution down to a more reasonable 1280×768 or shrink your application window down. Otherwise the viewers will be scrolling their screen to keep up. Livemeeting doesn’t scale the display.
8. Be wary of desktop sharing – Sharing your whole desktop could cause a scrolling issue if you have a large screen, but if you don’t need to switch apps during your presentation then only share the app. This will maintain viewer focus and they won’t see all of your mail, messenger, twitter, & facebook alerts popping up. Wife IMs FTL.
9. Avoid scrolling quickly – Be aware that, for the viewers, it takes a while for the screen to refresh sometimes. Assume there is a couple seconds of lag time. If you scroll down, click something, and the page refreshes…. most people will miss it. Pause at the point of action and explain what you are clicking on.
10. Set ground rules & paint the room – We’ll often have a welcome slide we leave up while people are logging in that explains that QnA is to be held, mute phones if you aren’t presenting, how many people are in attendance, etc. I’ll also re-enforce those messages at the start of the presentations by saying something like “50 is the crowd today”. It’s easy to think, when you are alone in your office, that it’s just you and the presenter… so describe the room and who is in it.
I’ve probably missing something, but I’ve been thinking about this for a while and wanted to capture these off the top of my head for posterity. Enjoy!