Why I created this podcast
How to Present Online with Dean Waye (pt 2) Luke Szyrmer
Detailed actionable tips from Dean Waye on how to deliver online presentations, both in a sales context and within organizations. Dean has been helping professional speakers deliver content online for close to a decade.
Dean Waye is the owner of awneo.com, a coaching and membership site that helps people create their best ever B2B presentations and webinars. He also works in Product Marketing and Sales Enablement at Openet, a global B2B software company.
Build up, don’t throw up a bomb in your audience and your slide comes on my screen, the more stuff I’m assaulted with immediately, the less likely I am to listen to you, especially in those first few seconds, because I’m reading or I’m trying to understand the that the more information my eyes have to deal with, the less focus the speaker gets.
We have mouths and we have ears and we have eyes, but we only have one language processor in our brain. And it’s only focused on one thing at a time, which is why you can be watching a movie and then your wife says something. You did not hear us.
Because somebody was getting shot on screen and you’re thinking, that’s cool thing and it happened and part of your brain processed, your wife saying, are you sure you want to eat that? Because, you know, but you didn’t you couldn’t focus on it because we focus on one thing at a time, right. In those crucial first few seconds, whenever the screen changes, visuals beat audio 10 times out of to.
You are listening to the align remotely podcast, the show dedicated to helping you lead distributed teams under difficult circumstances.
I’m the host, Luke Szyrmer, and I’ve participated in distributed teams for almost a decade. As a practitioner, I’m speaking experts on leadership, strategic alignment and remote work to help you navigate the issues start facing after you get your working from home care of. If you’ve ever had to give a remote business presentation and you missed last week’s episode, I highly recommend you go back and give it a listen. Last week and this week, we’re speaking with Dean Wei, who is an expert in giving presentations remotely and adapting your approach to do well in this remote only environment.
This week, we are continuing on with details around how to structure your presentation so that you achieve what you want to with the call to action and also adapting presentations to work outside of just the pure sales environment, like internally within a larger company when you’re working with your teams.
And let’s move on to the interview in terms of Act three, other than what you mentioned so far, it’s the wrap up, the call to action.
Then I want to talk about the call to action for a second.
OK, worst mistake everyone makes around a call to action is that even if they understand that they’re delivering a presentation in a three ACT structure, they don’t even mention a call to action or allude to it in any way until sometime in the old model around.
This was give lots and lots of information to an audience about some topic that’s related to what you do and then pivot into your pitch because a call to action is basically a pitch. Right. I want you to do something. I want you to buy something. I want you to stop buying something or you sign up for a newsletter. I want you to register for our series of webinars around mobile and computing, whatever.
And this is the classic mistake. And it’s not your fault if you’re constructing your presentation this way.
And it’s not the audience’s fault that they switch off mentally and oftentimes drop off if it’s like a webinar where they’re not ever going to be expected to speak because.
Thousands of other presenters in thousands of other presentations for the last 20 years have trained the audience when a big chunk of information and then a pitch and then you probably are not interested in the pitch and they’re probably not very good at delivering their own pitch. You’ve split your webinar into a two thirds section and a one third section and giving the audience permission to f off in the one third section. The only way to you have to build a path to your call to action.
And that starts on slide to the attention to matters like. You don’t start pitching early, you don’t mention what you’re ultimately going to be asking the audience to do, you start alluding with your voiceover, only don’t put it on screen, but with your voiceover only start alluding to interesting information or a solution or one approach companies are taking or whatever.
You start imagining it all the way back in the second slide, the attention KOMANDER slide, which is really just a statement or a point of view thing where you’re trying to get a reaction from the audience and then you build your path verbally only until you get to the Act three, the part of actually where you want to pitch your call to action.
Otherwise you just turn off the audience and they tune out. It’s also why I tell everyone to never have a Q&A slide. Thousands of presentations before you got to that audience trained them that if they don’t have a question, they have mental permission to check out and start checking their calendar, even in real life in a room. So you and I comes up, people start packing up.
So they can move on to the next room in the next meeting, you know, signal to the audience that it’s OK to stop paying attention other than the commander slide, then how else would you leave these breadcrumbs throughout the presentation or what the city is?
The nice part about the building to the CTA is if you’re preemptively answering the 10 or 11 questions. That you’d go through, starting with, is this real, is why is this interesting or new to me and so on, all the way through to how do I know it works?
And all of the other questions you go through, then that alone will build a path to your call to action.
You’re setting up a construct where it says, OK, I can trust this guy. What he’s talking about actually exists. I understand how it works or I understand that they put a lot of features into this. I mean, depending on how technical the audiences have to assure people, yes, I know you’ve got slide after slide, 400 words on a slide talking about all the features and the technology behind and underlying what you built. You will get to say all that stuff, I promise.
But you’re not saying it and showing it for the reason you think you’re showing it, to show that you’ve done all the work and you’ve done all the thinking.
That’s why it’s there.
It’s to show off. I’m taking you guys through. I’ve shown to other people about it, blah, blah, blah, or I’m sure other people have thrown support behind this project.
They want to see that you’ve done all the mental work. They don’t want to pick through all four hundred words on each slides.
It’s there to prove that you want to make the decision for them to perform your call to action as mentally easy as possible. And one of the ways you do that is to allay any fears that what they’re talking about or what they’re listening to might not even work. So someone has done all the hard thinking. Someone’s done the hard engineering to this. Someone’s put together the complex project plan, and you’ll always end up with one person in a room or a zoo meeting who’s the technical person in the room.
They’re the one who want you to spend 45 minutes on the technical slides, you know, and you need to understand how you can answer but divert that person, because most of the people in the room, you’re going to start killing their audience attention as soon as you start going into the weeds on that stuff.
Yeah, yeah. And it would be to be meeting even in a sales meeting. You’re never intending you never expect to make a sale at the end of the meeting. It’s not like a B2C webinar. And so really, there’s only a few things you’re ever aiming for in a call to action in a bit of context.
Ideally, you’re looking for another meeting where you can go into even further detail about particular things that the customer is interested in or you’re looking for them in more of a webinar context to register for the next webinar or agree and schedule a schedule, a discovery call, write thirty minutes or fifteen minutes to see if what we do might fit what you need, or else get them to sign up to be in your marketing day to day or something. There’s always something you want them to sign up for.
You know, it’s not like you have to make a sale right then, so you don’t have to pitch hard, but you do need to build up to your call to action.
And if you don’t have a call to action, then that’s the equivalent of any other meeting in life where no one ever bothers to ask, OK, what’s the next step?
Because if no one asks what’s the next step, and then people get assigned to do something or they take the responsibility to do it, you could have handled that whole thing in an email. Yeah, yeah, I totally get that some things are better in written form and some things are better as presentations, and the classic newbie mistake is trying to make your presentation slide. Looks like a word document. Yeah, yeah, that’s right.
We had this bifurcation in PowerPoint 15, 20 years ago where everyone in the corporate world stopped using Microsoft Word and started shoving their word documents into PowerPoint.
So you end up with these two types of very different kinds of decks, right?
You end up with decks that literally are meant to be read silently by yourself, never presented live in a dark room at the present live. And they’re virtually useless unless you have an audio recording to go with them because they only have a few words or graphics on the slide because all of the content was in the voiceover in the live presentation.
Yeah, but shoving a word document into PowerPoint is already a crime. There are good reasons for it.
You can do diagrams and stuff way easier and PowerPoint than you can than you’ll ever be able to do. In a word, it’s bad enough to shove a word document into PowerPoint, but then to force people to experience it as a live audience presentation is a recipe for people tuning out.
Let me just let me address one thing first and sure has to do with common issues and fixes for the technical stuff, microphones, cameras, backgrounds, whatever variety is not your friend.
So specifically about audience attention and what people see on screen. Some people like to use different backgrounds. They keep trying different equipment. They think the next camera is the one that’s really going to make them pop in a zoo meeting, whatever.
Don’t do it. Take a few minutes once and work with someone like a friend or a coworker.
And and what’s your background is working and your lighting seems good and your mic sounds good and the camera angle is acceptable. That’s your setup, right? We all have to deal with it, just freeze it and never deviate from that because you have enough to worry about and enough to think about during your presentations without constantly having to fix your camera.
Once in a while, I’ll be on a zoo meeting and someone clearly has their camera at an angle.
I don’t mean like a I don’t mean like a turn left turn right up or down angle. So you can see like the line that a wall meets their ceiling and it’s shooting up at like forty five degrees. You need to straighten up your camera. It’s going to be distracting to some percentage of the audience that you don’t look like your level. You look like you’re on a ship that got stuck one way or the other.
Once you have the technical stuff dialed in and it doesn’t have to be great, it just has to be acceptable, just freeze that set up. So the next time you just like, you know, your laptop, you sit down and you’re like and you’re done and get that off your plate because nobody does well in a presentation and no one’s persuasive when they’re constantly tweaking and twiddling and moving around or not sure of their environment.
You need to get comfortable and just accept what you have to work with and then just. Stop.
I’m terrible at this, and I spent way too long setting up this little studio that I have from my meetings, but once it was done, once it was down and I literally come down and I hit one switch, everything comes on and I just go and I never need to think about it anymore. Interesting.
So visually, what kind of background do you suggest people have?
I suggest that people never use virtual backgrounds unless the lighting in your room works so well that a virtual background looks evenly lit because otherwise every time you move your head, you get the sort of halo kind of thing or worse, someone can see the actual real world through a little divot because Zoom can’t correct fast enough for the virtual background.
So nobody really cares what your background is unless it’s like a blood cover. Yeah, it’s a blood covered wall or something.
Maybe don’t show us if you’ve got a really deep photographs of clowns, maybe don’t show that.
I don’t know if you know the term.
You’re watching a video on YouTube and it’s just someone talking to camera and they have what’s called a jump cut, which is they obviously edited out one or more seconds. But between the word that they just said and the next word, there’s a tiny little bit of shift in how. OK, so there are a lot of people starting out on YouTube who try to get everything right in one take so that they don’t have any jump cuts. And this is ridiculous, eh?
It’s not that jump cuts aren’t noticed, but similar to your background, assuming it’s not a virtual background, assuming so much of your background in his uncle, it’s not that it isn’t noticed. Is that the jump cut in your background? They’re instantly forgotten because there’s nothing new there for your brain to pay attention to.
So it moves on. Right. And so if someone has a jump cut and if they have eight jump cuts in a five minute video, you’re the next day you’re not going to remember any of those jump cuts existed. You’re only going to remember if they’re lucky what you talked about. So is it mostly about minimizing distractions in the same way that you don’t want like color minimizing new information?
Our brains are really great. Here’s an example. OK, so let’s talk about how people can get started right now with actionable next steps. OK, the very first thing I tell people is build up. Don’t throw up. OK, I’m in your office.
Don’t build up. Don’t throw up. If I’m in your audience and your slide comes on my screen, the more stuff I’m assaulted with immediately, the less likely I am to listen to you, especially in those first few seconds, because I’m reading or I’m trying to understand the diagram.
The more information I have to deal with, the less focus the speaker gets. We have mouths and we have ears and we have eyes, but we only have one language processor in our brain. And it’s only focused on one thing at a time, which is why you can be watching a movie and then your wife says something. You did not hear us. Because somebody was getting shot on screen and you’re thinking, that’s Quilcene and it happened and part of your brain processed, your wife saying, are you sure you want to eat that?
Because, you know, but you didn’t you couldn’t focus on it because we focus on one thing at a time. Right. And in those crucial first few seconds, whenever the screen changes, visuals beat audio 10 times out of ten. So if you have a diagram or a lot of bullets to show, then hide most of it at first and show me more and more of it as you speak. Some people like to use just a simple PowerPoint animation for that.
I’m so paranoid about something going wrong. I just if I have a slide with five or six bullet points on it, I just draw a white box and cover the ones. And then I make a copy of the slide and then slide two. I just I’ve moved the box enough. So now you can see two bullets instead of just one and so on. There’s literally no way to screw up the animation because all I’m doing is advancing the slides.
But more and more is being shown and taking that back to the point immediately what they’ve seen when there’s no new information there. Our brains are fantastic.
When we look at a slide with two bullets to within a fraction of a second understand we’ve already dealt with the first bullet so it gets zero attention whatsoever. So I’m only now paying attention to the second one, because our brains are great at ignoring things that they know are safe to ignore.
Someone might notice your company logo in the bottom left of your first slide, they never notice your logo again, even though it’s on every slide, they never think about or notice the NDA statement at the bottom and small type. Subconsciously, the brain processes everything that’s in front of them, but they only focus on the new stuff. And so you owe it to me as someone in your audience that you want attention from to build up complex slides and diagrams and don’t just throw up because you’re the speaker, right?
I’m supposed to be in good hands with you. That’s the whole attention. Commander Slide. You’re in good hands with me. I know what I’m doing. So one way you show that is to guide and direct my attention. So I always know what’s important because you’re always showing me just what I need to see when it’s time for me to see it.
That’s how a pro does a presentation. There’s sort of a built in fear people aren’t even conscious of it, if you throw up a really complex diagram just all at once without ever hiding part of the diagram and then, like, revealing more and more of it over time or a whole bunch of words on the slide, I don’t know how long you’re going to have that slide up on screen.
And I don’t know if there’s something on it that’s important. So I ignore everything you’re saying while I race through and read the slide as quickly as possible.
Why did you just throw away that attention? Beyond a certain point, it’s overwhelming for someone as new for most of us, if we haven’t seen the presentation before, everything on that slide is new until it’s not. Here’s the thing, you might end up with a lot more slides, but most of them are just slight variations of the other. So the total amount of time for your presentation hasn’t changed at all. But there’s always something for me to look at every few seconds or every minute or two.
And I’m only I only have to pay attention to the thing that actually on screen that you want me to pay attention to. And the rest of the time I’m listening to you.
That’s also why I tell people to kill the Q&A slide. Right. Audiences have been trained to mentally and even physically check out when they see a Q&A site. Unless they have a question, most people won’t even stick around for a Q&A session.
If anyone even asks, the question is either boring or self-serving to the person who’s asking the question so they can show off how smart they are, but they’re trying to impress the presenter, not do something useful for the entire audience.
I used to tell people, just like whatever your last information slide is, your call to action slide, just leave that up. And if you want to prime the pump for a Q&A period, just say, you know, that at this point I can tell you most people have a couple of questions. I get these all the time. The first one is silence. And you haven’t put it on screen. You just say what the question is. And then you answered your own question and then your second one.
That’s. Some people really like to put the most common questions, so I’ll give you this tip. If you’re going to put them on screen, then you have to follow this formula.
It’s an old copywriting trick. It’s been done forever. It’s well proven audience attention and reader attention wise. Here’s what you do. You rank them in order of the most interesting to the audience or the most commonly asked. And that’s usually the same thing. And then let’s say you’ve got three of them. Here’s how you here’s how you put them on screen. You put, number one, the most interesting one or most common as your first one. Then you take your second most popular or interesting one, and that’s your last one.
So the order would be one, three, two, or if you had five questions, it would be one three, four or five two. And the reason is people, when they see a lot of stuff on screen, they’ll if you leave them with the impression that even the least important, the last one was also really interesting, then they think that everything in the middle was also pretty interesting to them to. That kind of works for a lot of things if you’re listing your top five customers and you could list them, of course, by size of the book of business they’re doing with your company, but you can also list them by the most recognizable if you sell to.
Lexus and Tesla and in three other companies that most people are never heard of. Then you start with Tesla and then Lexus is the fifth one and the other three are in the middle somewhere.
Yeah, so it’s all basically the what is it, the recency effect and the ring, what’s the other one?
So the first one is the primacy effect, sometimes called the halo effect. And then the last one is the recency that.
Yes. Fascinating. So a lot of the focus is basically on the front end, in the back end in terms of doing it, but then you’ve got the 10 questions in the middle, more or less. Right.
Everyone loves having their own internal questions answered without them having to ask it. And since everyone has pretty much the same questions, you might as well just address all the questions. And if you do them in order, then you’re actually building through the structure.
And so you start with Act one in the first two questions and then act two takes you in the meat of it, then actually guides them right into the call to action and then you get your call to action. How would you describe how B2B presentations are different than just. Let’s put it in the context of B2C webinars and B2B webinars, a lot of people, maybe everyone at some point has been on a B2C webinar where ultimately they’re trying to get you to buy something at the end.
That’s the definition of that, right?
You make a sale at the end so you can think of the trajectories and histories of B2C webinars and B2B webinars, very similar to the trajectories of direct response or direct advertising and brand advertising. So, for instance, over the last, let’s say, 100 or even 50 years, direct advertising has gone from direct mail or junk mail, like we used to call it, to faxes and then to all the way down through to what we have today, which is targeted social media ads and Instagram stories and everything else.
It evolves and iterates and it has the benefit of feedback. Something worked or it didn’t. You made a sailor, you didn’t. Your conversion rate for getting a sale was five percent or six percent. And if it’s two different messages and six percent pulls better than to go to six percent and then try to improve on that, whereas the B is very much like brand advertising. So I’ll give you an example. I’m sure that other than what the cars look like, we could right now go on YouTube and find a Mercedes ad from 10 years ago and one made last week and they will look virtually identical.
Because you don’t get any feedback, they don’t make a sale during the ad. No one calls a number and orders a Mercedes like that, like they might order a on an infomercial. Yeah.
Kind of thing, because it doesn’t get the sort of instant feedback it has to learn from other fields and apply those lessons.
And and so what you end up with is a very slow moving and much more, on the one hand boring, but on the other hand more. Stay and professional and respectable field and presentation style in BTD than you would get with me to see. And B, to see you can do us call stacking closes, so not only do you get, you know, this product, but we’re throwing in a free nice set and a CD with the greatest hits from 1978.
Yeah, you got exactly.
Which is probably when you were 14, the target audience was 14 years old. When everyone starts forming their taste in music, you get this advice and you get these books on how to do webinars and stuff.
They’re almost always around or derived from B to C, and they have this stuff that you just never get away with in A B to the audience.
You can’t stack Close’s in B to be especially like in webinars or sales type presentations.
You can’t create false scarcity. You can’t say and this deal is good only for the next 72 hours. Everyone in a B2B audience knows that if they call you six months from now and ask for the same terms, they’re probably going to get the same terms.
There’s no scarcity, there’s no time sensitivity. All of those regular consumer type tools are not available to us simply to be.
So the whole point is to keep their attention, you can get people’s attention in a bit of context with fear of loss or fear of missing out.
That’s much harder to achieve in B2B, especially for complex B2B, where you’re selling a big system to a big company. Where it might take months or years to actually even stand it up, and that’s after the year it takes to sell in the first place. So instead of doing that, you have to address the core questions that need to be audience is going to ask itself in the order that they know to keep the momentum going right through to the call to action, which is usually something, like I said, as small as just getting the next meeting.
You know, ultimately in a bit of a presentation, in any sort of sales context, you’re really just trying to be one of the last two companies standing as they go through their initial funnel of who’s in this business, who sells what, who sells solutions to this problem and who should we be talking to. Other than being the one chosen on the science of their being, the one chosen one meeting is not going to get to be the one chosen.
I don’t go that far. I hope I helped them break out.
Or if it’s a company, I help them break out into knowledge and awareness. I can’t guarantee them the sale. I can’t even help them with the sale. That’s a whole other set of presentations.
So one other question. What about internal presentations and companies in a large company, things like department meetings that people are sitting around quite bored.
Do you have any advice for leading such meetings, participating in such meetings?
So the nice part, you know, it’s a double edged sword. The nice part about an internal meeting. You can skip a lot of the initial questions. You can’t get the why is this different? And I’m interested in it question the very first one that anybody is going to ask. But you can normally skip all of the ones around. Is this real? Can I trust you? That kind of stuff, because you’re all part of the same team in that case.
So really what you’re aiming for is to a build up, don’t throw up, keep things moving all the way through. Everyone’s you know, to some degree everyone is forced to be there. And so, fine, we’ll go through it. I you might use a lot more instead of just one per presentation. You might use two or three audio calls to screen because you know that everyone is looking at their phone or looking at their email. And so you need to suck them back in with something that’s a little bit visual, but not explaining what it is.
And so it’s unknown what it is unless you’re already looking at the screen. And then towards the end, the call to action is normally there might even be a call to action. And if there’s no call to action, then really what you’re just trying to get is agreement right now or at least a lack of dispute.
So you might not get like that is I agree with all these numbers and I agree with the direction we’re going in and the project seems to be progressing. And I like that there’s more green than yellow and more yellow than red. But but what you don’t want is like an argument or a dispute.
So that’s really all you’re aiming for. We all have to be there. We’re all trapped in this room, so to speak. So let’s keep it as brisk and visually interesting for the audience and then not have a dispute at the end of all of the mistakes that people might make in a sales kind of B2B presentation.
They really like to double and triple down. This is an internal audience. I really don’t have to give a crap about their attention.
So I will throw 500 words on a screen like people think this. No, that’s it’s the same human beings looking at the screen. And so you still have to make it interesting. You still have to build up to it. You still have to control their attention as much as you can and guide it. And you just can’t fit more stuff on a screen by making it smaller type just because it’s an internal audience. And we’ve all been guilty of it.
I’ve done it, but we all hate it. And yet we all keep doing it because we don’t start with the audience in mind. We start with what we want to get out. Instead of concentrating on what we got the audience to get in, I will say one thing, whether it’s a sales thing or an internal status report on a presentation the next day, those people are only going to remember 10 percent of your presentation.
There’s no reason why you can’t choose that 10 percent. Up front and then focus and double down on it in the presentation, so I really want to focus, if you want them to only remember the next day, the project seems to be going pretty well, then that’s what you focus on. And just say it in different ways, right? Exactly. Not by throwing up a bunch of slides and talking about every single thing, I can’t think of a single presentation where you’re on the hook to completely educate everyone in the meeting about every aspect of everything.
So you’re there to. In part, enough information so they feel they have a grasp on it secretly, your goal is to pick the 10 percent you want them to remember and then focus on that. If the project’s going really badly, you’re not trying to make it seem like it is going well. If it’s going badly, that’s fine. But it’s the messages. It’s going badly. And we think we’re doing well at tackling this and we’re getting our arms around it.
Then that’s the 10 percent you want to remember, not just not the projects going down the toilet, you know.
Like, no one will never lie to your audience, someone always, like, you know, picks up on it, always, you know. You know, Pluspetrol. Yeah, yeah.
That’s the starting point. I agree.
What’s the if people wanted to find out more, what’s the best way for people to interact with you? I.
Have my website is awneo dot com, so A w n E O Dot com, and there is a link there to a free course with a bunch of videos in order, talking about all of the AXA’s downloads is exactly the PowerPoint presentations to download and checklists and everything is explain why.
What are these 10 questions? The Wire. What’s the unspoken message for this slide and that slide? What are we trying to achieve here? Why do we build up and what’s our main challenge when we’re trying to communicate in the to context and it always on LinkedIn and. I might be the only way on LinkedIn. Great, thank you. This episode had tons of practical information for giving effective remote presentations and probably worth a relisten. You can also check the visual show notes where we document them just in case you want to overview as you listen to it in the future.
So my favorite part of this particular one was his distinction that we aren’t really looking at minimizing distraction when we’re in a remote environment. We’re looking at minimizing new information.
So even more strictly, if you very deliberately control which bit of information comes and in what order it comes in, that gives you a lot of power.
When you are getting your message across, it makes it much easier to build up to a CTA and achieve whatever it is that you want to achieve, communicate whatever it is that you need to communicate.
So thanks for joining and for listening and see you next week.
Thanks for listening to this episode of The Align Remotely podcast, if you enjoy the show, please leave a review on iTunes, Google podcasts or wherever you get your podcast.