Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Working from home: The future of business is remote

How to rock your presentation from your home office

Public speaking can be challenging from your home office. Karen Mangia, a member of Salesforce's Work From Home Task Force, offers seven simple tips that can help you remotely deliver high-impact presentations.

Teleworking? Go over this checklist before setting up a home office

"The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation that is to come." -- Steve Jobs

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Karen Mangia, Vice President, customer and market insights, at Salesforce

In a recent article, Karen Mangia, a member of the Salesforce's Work From Home Task Force, and I shared how to set the stage for a successful work from home performance. Performing at a high level while working from home starts with maximizing your home office experience. After following our seven-step guide for creating a high-performance office experience, it is time to share seven more best practices for preparing you to deliver a high-impact presentation from your remote office. 

Sweaty palms. Awkward pauses. Audible sighs. Silent fear. Dead air.

Public speaking can be anxiety-inducing in the best of circumstances, much less with your dog barking and your family screaming in the background. So, how can you play offense during your next high stakes, remote presentation rather than rebounding from your own "Boom Goes The Dynamite" moment?

Follow the winning strategies in this playbook to help maneuver around anxiety toward an MVP worthy performance.

  1. Define success. From your audience's point of view. What do you want your audience to think, feel and do as a result of your presentation? Chris Westfall, author of Leadership Language who's coached clients onto Shark Tank, Dragons Den in Canada and Shark Tank - Australia, believes effective presentations share one common characteristic. "Rather than begin with your own viewpoint," Westfall reveals, "the best communication strategy actually starts with what's top of mind for your listener. The strongest message starts with what your listener is thinking. And then points them toward outcomes. Implications. Results."

  2. Consider collaboration. Do you remember the old saying, "Two heads are better than one?" Reduce pressure to perform by inviting an expert to collaborate with you on developing your outline and then delivering your high impact message. Michael Maoz, SVP of Innovation Strategy at Salesforce observes, "Engaging a co-presenter gives you a chance to prepare for a few slides around one thought while the other person is presenting." And running seamless pass plays keeps your virtual audience more engaged.

  3. Plan polls. Online polls are an easy audience engagement tool. And a way to take a quick pulse check when you aren't able to visibly scan and interact with your audience. Ask a co-presenter or moderator to administer one or more live polls to your audience during your presentation. Pause to share the results, and remind the audience how your message relates to what matters most to them.

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    Reid Carlberg, VP of Trailhead Mobile at Salesforce

  5. Record rehearsals. Just like accomplished athletes meticulously review practice films, you, too, can be a student of the game. Record your dry run from your home office or the virtual location from which you plan to present. Then share your "practice film" with others who can coach you to a winning performance. Reid Carlberg, VP of Trailhead Mobile at Salesforce finds including a simple note like this one helps others help you: "A few weeks from now, I'll be doing an opening keynote. I would love your feedback on what I've put together. The following video is 36 minutes. It's an early run-through, so there are some rough spots, but the shape is pretty close to what I expect to deliver. Could you please view this and provide feedback by Friday? All feedback is welcome. Thank you."

  6.  Press Pause. The winning formula Karen discovered was detailed in her book "Success With Less ": Pause + Ponder + Prioritize. In the context of a high stakes presentation, that means scheduling time to press pause before you present. Rolling in hot from a sideways meeting that ran long will put you in a frenzied state of mind. Block enough time on your calendar to review your presentation. Take a deep breath. Remove distractions. And ensure your technology is working as planned. (Here are Seven Tips to Optimize Your Home Office .)

  7.  Become a Play-By-Play Commentator. The best commentators are articulate and engaging, no matter how fast the pace of play. "Remember the audience does not know what you know", explains Alan Lepofsky, Future of Work Expert and VP of Collaboration at Salesforce. "You've scripted your talk, planned your clicks, you know what's coming next. Your audience doesn't. That means your audience is a few seconds behind you processing what they've seen. It's your job to make processing your pitch as simple as possible. Less is more. Repeat. Call out the obvious. Very clearly outline what you're going to be showing next. That lets your audience gets a mental head start before you move to the next concept."

  8.  Extend connection opportunities: Offer to continue Q&A and networking opportunities beyond the planned presentation time and platform using collaborative technology. Whether it's Quip, Slack, Teams, or something else, maximize your moment of connection.

 "People do not buy goods and services. They buy relationships, stories and magic." --Seth Godin

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Alan Lepofsky, Future of Work expert and VP of Collaboration at Salesforce

Delivering a presentation from your home office can be challenging. But with all presentations and group speaking opportunities, the most important success factor is mastery of the topic and your deep understanding and passion regarding what you hope to convey to the audience. How you connect with your audience in an authentic and relevant manner is what matters most.  If your goal is to educate, inspire and ignite positive action, with a great degree of integrity and benevolence, then you are already more than halfway toward delivering a meaningful presentation.  

What are you discovering as you work from home in terms of public speaking or presenting? Share your success stories and lessons learned with us. We welcome your insights here or by joining us on Twitter @karenmangia and @ValaAfshar. Consider using the hashtag #SpeakingFromHome and we will curate the best lessons on our collective social networks. 

This article was co-authored by Karen Mangia, vice president, customer and market insights, at Salesforce. Karen engages customers globally to discover new ways of creating success and growth together. From Executive Advisory Boards to strategic consulting engagements, her insights are central to Go-to-Market strategy, product development, marketing, and branding. In addition, Karen influences industry thought leadership in her role as Chair of the Customer Experience Council for The Conference Board. Formerly responsible for Insight Innovation at Cisco Systems, she led a global team with oversight into Customer Satisfaction & Experience, Diversity Business Practices, and Global Offset and Countertrade. Karen is also the author of 'Success With Less' and a TEDx speaker.