Do you plan to share your computer screen with attendees in a webinar in order to demonstrate software or show an application? Does your webinar platform use screen sharing to show PowerPoint slides to attendees? Here are four quick tips you should always follow before starting up your web conference.
1) TURN OFF EMAIL. All the way off, not just minimized. Outlook and other email programs have a nasty way of showing little popup notification windows as new messages come in. They usually show the first sentence and who it’s from. At the best, it’s distracting for you and the audience. At the worst, it violates confidentiality or shows something embarrassing.
Oh, you say you have turned off notifications? Good for you. Email still sucks bandwidth away from your conference sharing as it attempts to receive an email with a 20MB attachment. Anything that interrupts performance is bad.
2) REDUCE ANIMATION EFFECTS. If you show PowerPoint slides, go through your deck ahead of time and change smooth-motion effects such as slow fades, fly-ins, and wipes into simple appear/disappear animations. They are not as visually fun, but you have a much better chance of seeing the same thing your audience sees. Screen sharing can have a difficult time keeping up with constant visual changes such as motion. They work better when they just redraw a single appear/disappear state change. An occasional fade or wipe effect may be okay if it applies to a small region. This applies doubly to slide transitions… Eliminate them.
3) CLEAN UP YOUR DESKTOP. Not your messy office (that is a topic for webcam users) but the virtual desktop on your computer. You may not plan for attendees to ever see the desktop background, but at some point you will surprise yourself by switching between applications or resizing/moving something and the world will see your blank computer screen. Remove the background image you use… This is no time to distract people with a snapshot of your baby or your girlfriend. Keep it a simple solid color.
If you have dozens of shortcut icons sprinkled all over your screen, get rid of them. You can do this easily by creating a new folder on your desktop and moving all those other icons into it. When you are done with the event, you can pull them all back from the temporary folder onto your desktop. Quick and safe. If you have just a few shortcut icons, line them up and put them along one border. Windows lets you line things up by right-clicking on your background and toggling commands to Auto Arrange and Align to Grid.
4) CLEAR BROWSER HISTORY. ORGANIZE FAVORITES. If you think there is even a tiny chance that you will show something inside a web browser during your session, clean it up. If you keep all your stored URLs in a big list under Favorites, organize them into subfolders so attendees can’t see your saved links as you pull up your demonstration.
Modern browsers are very clever at auto-filling URLs in the address bar as you start to type an address. Clear your browser history before your session so that it doesn’t try to helpfully complete your link with an alternate suggestion you have visited in the past. There are few things more fun than starting to type www.money-demo.com and having your computer show the audience www.monkey-deviants.com instead. (Man, I hope that isn’t a real site!)
The more obvious these suggestions seem, the more you will tend to overlook them in the rush of getting things ready before your web session. Put them on your pre-flight checklist.