Virtual presentation - Woman conducting a dry run on camera before giving a virtual presentation.

Presenting virtually? Don’t skip the dry run

I recently spoke with my cousin, who also works in communications and marketing. We ended up lamenting about clients who skipped the dry run before a virtual presentation.

In both cases they scheduled a dry run. They just didn’t actually conduct a dry run. Instead they talked about webinar flow and what each person was going to cover.

Don’t mistake a prep call for a dry run. Prep calls are important, but they’re no substitute for a true dry run.

We’re all short on time. Often, giving a virtual presentation is something our company has asked us to do, so we may not see it as urgent as other tasks on our to-do list. We can all think of many excuses to skip the dry run or cut it short.

But it’s the wrong choice. Why? Because the whole point of giving a virtual presentation is to get your message heard. When you skip the dry run, you greatly decrease your chances of success.

Additionally, failing to conduct a dry run or at least practicing and being prepared disrespects your audience, further decreasing your chances of them hearing your message.

Virtual Presentation – Why you should always conduct a dry run

Conducting a dry run before your virtual presentation has many benefits.

First and foremost, a dry run confirms whether or not you can convey your message clearly and concisely. When you conduct a dry run, you can see how well your presentation sticks to your Message Map.

A Message Map helps ensure your virtual presentation conveys your message clearly, concisely, and consistently. I always recommend creating a Message Map before creating your presentation and slides.

A dry run also gives you a chance to ensure your visuals match what you say. I attended a recent webinar where the visuals did not at all match the speaker’s message. A dry run will bring such inconsistencies to light.

Person in watching virtual presentation on laptop while also looking at graphics on mobile phone.
Conducting a dry run will bring any inconsistencies in your visuals to light

Finally, a dry run shows how prepared you are to give your virtual presentation. Make sure you conduct the dry run enough in advance to improve your visuals and to practice more if needed.

How to conduct a true dry run

If you are presenting virtually, which is most presentations during this pandemic, see if you can conduct your dry run using the actual webinar platform. If you can’t, make sure you can at least test the platform and get comfortable with how to use it before your presentation.

Ask at least one person who can give you feedback to attend the dry run. This is often someone from your communications or marketing team. You can also ask someone else from your organization who knows your topic and target audience to attend.

Regardless of the person’s role in your organization, it should be someone who can give you constructive feedback about your presentation.

The most important part of the dry run? Give your presentation. The entire presentation. From start to finish. As if you were giving it live.

Yes, it takes time. Time you may think you don’t have. But if you don’t have the time to get this right, then why give the presentation at all?

If it’s not worth the opportunity to get your message heard by your target audience, then don’t do it. Don’t waste your time and theirs.

During your dry run, you’ll likely notice some things that you can improve on before the live presentation. You probably won’t notice everything, so record the dry run.

When you watch the recording, pay close attention to other things you could improve. Do your visuals support what you are saying? How is your pace? Your tone?

If you feel you need to, do another dry run after you make the improvements you identified.

While conducting a true dry run before a presentation takes time, it’s an important step to make sure you are respecting your audience and clearly conveying your key message.

Need to coach your team on how to communicate and present effectively via videoconference? We can help. Email us today.

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