Advice for Speakers when using Teams - Teams Blog Series 2
Updated: Apr 30
Part one of this series was all about using teams to host an online community meetup. This part focuses on speakers. Most of this doesn't specifically relate to teams, and much is common sense. Hopefully, you will find some useful information. I worked out many of these steps when helping out with Community Cafe as organized by Ben Watt of Datalineo.
1) Yes, it feels like no one is listening. This is normal. When presenting in-person, you can see people, talk to people, interact, and get a real sense of the room. An online session is different. However, that does not mean that people aren't listening. Just be yourself, you are there because of your knowledge, and people just want to learn, so stay calm, and convey your knowledge. Be awesome, however, lets make things easier for your audience.
2) Slow your pace. If, like me, you can speak at a fast pace, be a bit mindful of this and try to slow down just a little. You will probably forget this mid-session, so stick a note on a post-it, attach it to your monitor with a simple message, "Slow down!"
3) Watch your mouse. There you are, rocking through your talk, following your post-it instruction on slowing down. Just be aware that on the other side, they hear your voice, but only see your mouse. So make sure they can see it. Use your favorite Zoomit or another mouse locator frequently. On windows 10, I use the Ctrl button frequently to highlight where my mouse is.
Windows 10 - Ctrl-click in action
4) Even better, use a virtual laser pointer. I have started using a Logitech spotlight pointer and it is awesome. In my hand, I can point the control at my monitor, press the button and a big highlighted circle appears on the screen. I am sure there are other such gadgets, but I really like this one. It also has a magnify and other options
Logitech Spotlight in action
5) Check-in with your audience. Every few minutes, or at a natural break, just stop and ask your audience if all is ok? Can they hear you and see the screen? Is the pace ok?
6) Use a headset. It really helps if you have a headset, I won't recommend a particular one, but ideally get one that is designed for the job, comfortable and high quality. If you just use the laptop standard mic and speakers, then every other noise in the room will be picked up, including keyboard clicks. Your laptop speakers can create a nasty feedback loop as well if a person starts asking you a question as their voice will be fed back into your mic. If you have no choice, then get quick with your mute button when people are asking you questions.
7) Use an external webcam. If you are using a built-in webcam, you can get an "up the nose" view of yourself. If you have an external webcam, you can position it in a more flattering position, somewhere around head height. If you are using an external keyboard and your laptop webcam, try elevating the laptop on a few books, but don't do this unless you are comfortable with your external keyboard and don't need the laptop keyboard.
8) OS. On your OS, make sure that any windows updates are done and turn off notifications of any apps. Even better, just close them all down. Windows has a multiple desktop feature that you can use if you want to have a nice clean demo environment while your day job applications are open elsewhere.
9) Internet - If presenting from home, then check your internet. Can you ask your household to reduce their own use of the internet while you are on? Close any apps your own device that may be using the web. Move closer to the router. On many home routers, there as QoS (quality of service) settings that might allow you to prioritize traffic. There are some advanced QoS settings within team admin that you might want to play with. (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/meeting-settings-in-teams)
When presenting, if you want to save some bandwidth, you can turn off your video feed by clicking Turn Camera Off on the control panel.
Another bandwidth saver is to turn off incoming video via the control panel settings option. (The three dots ...)
10) Screen sharing. Many of us have multiple monitors now. I always use the same one for a remote presentation. I find it natural and I don't get confused mid-presentation. When sharing, always share the screen and not the application. Otherwise, you will end up stopping and starting your screen sharing during the session. Also, some applications (like PowerBI) don't work well if you share just the application. From PowerBI, if you are sharing the application, but then select transform data, a new screen is opened that users will not be able to see. When you have a screen shared you will see a red outline around the edge. This is your public space, so don't put anything there that you don't want people to see. If as part of your demo, you start up an application, remember that it might start on a different screen. Maybe have all of your applications open but minimized so you can access them quickly without changing the screen.
To start a screen share in Teams, do the following;
a) Click the share button in the middle of the control panel.
b) On the left-hand side, you will see your screen. Identify which one is the one you want to share and select that.
c) Your shared screen should now have a red outline.
d) If you want, you can still have your team application open so you can see chat and participants. Just put it on a separate screen or minimize it if you don't want the distraction.
11) Test before your session. Ideally, the host will set up a test meeting, however, from your team client, you can test your equipment before you are on any call. Goto your user icon (Top right-hand corner) and click on Settings.
Then click on devices and select "Make a test call" and follow the instructions.
12) The moment of panic, joining a call. The most likely thing that can go wrong is when you join, you might either be on mute or using the incorrect speakers/microphone. When you join a meeting, before you enter, you get a quick preview of your settings.
Reading from left to right, I can see here that I am joining with video on, no background effect, not muted, and using my Jabra Evolve headset. If any of these are incorrect, I can change them now, before I join.
13) That is it. You should be ready to go. Just be yourself, once you have one or two done, it will feel as natural as an in-person talk.
Best of luck.