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You’ve spent countless hours meticulously readjusting your PowerPoint presentation, perfecting your notes and readying for that important web conference.  The time has come and your investors, fellow employees, vendors or customers are anxiously waiting for your presentation, but everything that could go wrong somehow does. From a faulty wireless connection to an IM from your best friend popping up on the screen, there are any number of things that can go awry while web or audio conferencing. Take your time, follow basic etiquette, double check everything and follow these tips to ensure your web conference goes off without any hitches.

Practice Your Presentation

You would never walk into any traditional conference, meeting or training session unprepared, so don’t underestimate the importance of practicing when it comes to a web conference. Any number of things can go wrong during the presentation, from a faulty wireless connection to participants walking in late. Go ahead and practice for these, and other eventualities as well. It will help you remain collected later, and keep the meeting on track. If you’re under a time constraint, run through the meeting a few times to guarantee your pace allows you to get your point across, while permitting others to interject with questions or comments.

When in Doubt, Stick With a Wired Connection

Your company spent copious amounts of money installing state-of-the-art wireless internet access. When it comes times for your meeting, don’t hesitate to switch back to a tried-and-true wired connection. Wireless is definitelyconvenient, but also fraught with potential bugs and issues, from unreliable bandwidth to dropped connections.

Check Your Equipment

Your webinar or audio conference might be scheduled for 1 p.m., but you should at arrive at least one hour earlier to make sure that the equipment is functioning. If you’re hosting the meeting through your private computer, make sure you’ve closed out of anything not related to the presentation, such as instant messages and Facebook. Check the internet connection, bring up your PowerPoint presentation,and make sure the monitors and any other peripheral equipment, including microphones and web cameras, are in working order.

Stay in Control

You’re at the point where all participants are accounted for and the web conference is beginning. From the minute you open up private chat or flip on a microphone, you must stay in command of the presentation and keep everyone on topic. Inform everyone from the start the layout of your presentation. Begin with introductions, show any slides and ask everyone to keep their comments and questions reserved for the end of the meeting. If necessary, disable private chat during the presentation and ask everyone to keep their microphones off until you open the floor for questions. If you’ve had trouble keeping a web or audio conference on schedule in the past, feel free to email the participants an agenda. This will put an end to any confusion and help keep your meeting running smoothly.

Engage Your Audience

A main issue that many presenters encounter is keeping their audience engaged and entertained during a meeting, traditional or otherwise. It is all too easy for participants to become distracted or bored during a web conference, and you might not notice them pull out their smartphone and play a game under the table. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to throw in a few well-timed jokes, ask the participants questions or find other means to keep the meeting engaging, and even fun. Remain upbeat and when in doubt, give everyone a five minute break to chug a cup of coffee and refocus their attention on the task at hand.

Record Everything

The beauty of hosting a web or audio conference is the ability to record every word for posterity. This allows anyone who might have missed the original presentation to remain in the loop. If you’re hosting a training session or product presentation, it also allows you and the participants to refer back to the information at a later date. The recording is intended for company use, so remain professional at all times, stay on topic and remember to stop the recording once the meeting finishes.

Web conferencing isn’t a new technology, although it is constantly evolving. If your company hosts web or audio conferences several times a year, don’t hesitate to check out the services offered at several websites and see which works best for your needs.

About the Author:  Jackson Smith is a guest blogger and IT specialist. He hosts several web conferences throughout the year and is creating a blog to provide his tips and tricks on how to host a successful webinar. For his own professional use, he has found StartMeeting to be incredibly helpful.

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