Did my first skype presentation the other day and while it will never replace being there in person, it went very well indeed, and is definitely something most authors should consider offering.

I had read some advice on skype visits that included look into the camera, not at your screen, to maximixe effectiveness.

I had emailed the powerpoint part of the presentation ahead of time so that the teacher on the other end would be running that, while I did the commentary.

Some powerpoint presentations involve slides with a lot of words where the presenter basically reads off the slides. Mine don’t.

I guess it’s good I hadn’t seen many power point presentations before I developed my own, because I would have thought that’s how it’s done.

Instead, I developed my presentation initially using actual slides, that went in slide projectors. I’d carry around my carousel (remember them?) and mount it on the school’s slide projector when the time came. Even back when I started though, slide projectors were becoming increasingly hard to find in schools as they were so obsolete.

But because I had initially developed my presentation on them, then I ended up just transferring my slides to a powerpoint presentation, not knowing that the common wisdom was to make lots of slides with text.

So I didn’t.

In my Roses presentation, I have one slide with only text. In my Wanting Mor presentation, I think I have two.

And then, my presentations basically consist of telling a story, using the slides as visual cues.

Some presenters would be concerned about emailing a whole powerpoint and leaving it in someone else’s possession. Not me. Because the slides in and of themselves, don’t tell the whole story. You need the commentary.

Anyway, I did the presentation and it was my first time veering from the norm of being physically in front of the group.

Any time I veer from the norm there is apt to be nervousness present.

It worked pretty well. And it was encouraging when the teachers laughed at all the right spots!

But still, when I was done, I had no way to guage how well I’d done.

My fee was only slightly less than what I would charge in person, and it turned out to be a wise move, because the work during the presentation is more than if I was physically there. Maybe it will get easier as I do more of them. That’s usually the case, but still, it is an hour of your time and all the same content is there.

I finished up the presentation and heaved a sigh of relief, wondering how I’d come across.

Oh how you miss that immediate feedback from an audience!

As a storyteller, you can basically ride the energy of an audience! But when you’re skyping, you have to almost overcompensate for the fact that your energy is not physically there.

A great audience can buoy you up so that you don’t even feel tired! That’s what happened at the end of the day!

After two presentations in the morning, I rushed home, did the skype visit, then rushed back out to go downtown and do another presentation.

The third one was a panel discussion about marketing as an artist. It was at the request of the head of my booking agency. I was to talk to about forty members of a workshop on artist educators and tell them my tips on how to market my presentations to schools!

That one was a cinch. I could tell right away that the audience was enjoying it. They were right in front of me.

But with the skype visit, I really wasn’t sure. I resisted the urge to email the teacher who’d booked me for the skype presentation to ask her how I’d done. I waited.

The next day, on her own, she gave me her feedback.

A real important note!

When someone is gushing and tripping over themselves complimenting your work, work that you thought was not your best, DON’T EVER CORRECT THEM!

I’ve learned this the hard way!

I know it can feel like you’re being dishonest not correcting them, but believe me, they’ll only look at you weird if you do!

To them, the presentation was ‘phenomenal’. Why should you tell them it wasn’t your best and you could have done better?

It’s crazy.

Maybe I’m just stating the obvious, but this was actually something I had to learn the hard way over the years.

When you receive praise that you don’t quite think you deserve, just smile graciously and say, “Thank you.” That’s all. And vow to yourself that you’ll try to improve, and that next time you do that same presentation you’ll try to make it more seamless or fix whatever shortcomings you saw.

You’ll slow down so you make no verbal stumbles. (I’ve already gotten to the point where I don’t say ‘um, uh,’ or other verbal place holders.)

And you’ll strengthen the story arc of the presentation so it has even more emotional impact. So that one day you will feel you deserve the nice things they’re saying.

That’s how I honed my other presentations. Like folktales winnowed over generations of telling, till they work beautifully, I’ve  trimmed my Roses presentation till it’s pretty much ideal. (I would actually pay to watch it!)

I guess I’ll never stop tweaking, but for the most part it’s done.

The newer presentations are still undergoing the winnowing. They’re good, but they can still be better.

The best thing about skyping is there’s no commute!

When I told my hubby I was doing a presentation through skype he just said, “Next you’ll be doing presentations from your bed!”

That’s just silly!

And later he advised me to clean up the bookshelves behind my desk, as they’d be visible.

That I did.