How to Deal With Not Seeing the Audience When Giving a Phone Presentation

Here’s a question I was asked in a recent teleseminar about not being able to see the audience when giving a phone presentation: 

Question: I’m actually much more nervous giving a presentation over the phone than in person.  In person, I’m getting feedback from the audience and getting their approval by looking at them.  I don’t get that over the phone, I find that I suffer from a great deal of nervousness and that my voice begins to shake quite often.

I think that many people feel more nervous presenting over the phone, in part because of the reason you cited: you get no feedback from the audience.  You are delivering your presentation into a black hole. You have no idea if people are even on the line. If they’re muted and you don’t have some kind of call-in tracking where you see the phone numbers that have dialed in, you don’t even know if people are there.  And if they are there, you don’t know if they are paying attention.

First of all, as with any presentation, you need to have self-confidence.  You have to believe that you have something worth saying. This is especially true even when you can’t see the audience and even when you’re hearing computer pings that tell you they’ve got email coming in. 

Second, try to have a mix of people on the phone and some in person.  Most of the people could be on the phone, but have one or two colleagues or friends (or even supportive family members if you’re presenting from home) in your location with you.

Have them in the room with you and coach them before the presentation.  Say something like, “I want you to imagine you’re this type of client or audience member.  Look at me when I’m presenting. Smile when you understand something. Focus on what I’m saying.” Having this kind of live feedback in the room may help you feel more comfortable and less nervous.
For more help with phone presentations, check out Gilda's audio course: Virtual Presentations - How to Develop and Deliver an Effective Presentation Over the Phone
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