Amber Christian of Wonderly Software Interviewed Steve Weinberg About Creating Better Virtual Meetings


Get on a plane, meet the prospective client in person, and make the pitch. Watch the signals in the room to see what is happening. Observe body language. Pre-2020, does this sound familiar? Then, it all suddenly changed. Many of us thought we would be on pause for a few months, tops. But we’re still on pause four years later, and no end is in sight.

At first, we moved our exact same process onto the conference call providers. The goal was to get appointments on the calendar while the world went upside down. And then we started to notice something. A sales meeting with everyone on a video camera isn’t the same as a sales meeting where you are all in the room. The old content doesn’t quite work with the same panache. Virtual meetings are our new standard. How do you adapt your sales meetings to make them more effective over video?

We reached out to Steven Weinberg to give us some pragmatic perspective. He has decades of experience in sales and managing sales professionals. We asked him to share his secrets and best advice on how we can re-think sales presentations for our new virtual standard.

How should sales professionals rework their content in the shift to virtual meetings?


  • First, reduce the quantity of MS PowerPoint slides in your presentation. I suggest you present at least 15-20 during a 1-hour web meeting. Your attendees likely have been on video conferences most of the workday and may be video fatigued. Attention spans are shorter on video conferences, as some will begin multi-tasking if they become bored. “Death by PowerPoint” is a meme and should be avoided. Each slide must be evaluated as to their value to the meeting, and all non-essential slides should be deleted (regardless of what your marketing department has designed); I use the “so what” test on every slide and bullet item. Each is meaningless unless they are tied to your value proposition. Brevity is supreme, especially in a virtual meeting. An agenda slide should be included, and it should be validated at the beginning of the meeting.


  • Stories are compelling, both theirs and yours. People like to talk about themselves and their company, which should not be discouraged in the interest of time. Your stories should include customer success stories and be specifically chosen for each meeting so that you do not present any that are irrelevant to the buyer.


It’s harder to detect some of the non-verbal signals I used to observe in the meeting room. Can you give me some creative ideas on how to detect engagement?


  • Add more probing and questioning to keep the attendees’ attention. Encourage the attendees to participate more by occasionally stopping presenting and asking thought-provoking, open-ended questions. These could be about their current state and their desired solution. If they still do not speak up, keep asking them questions, but do not become an interrogator. Their responses will also help you better assess the buyer’s level of interest.


  • I use something called Steve’s presentation word meter. It is a fictitious invention I created. Its purpose is to count the words spoken by each person during a meeting. If the word meter indicates that the buyer’s attendees spoke more than 50 percent of all words during the meeting, it was likely successful. It was probably sub-optimal if the buyers spoke less than 20 percent. If it was under 10 percent, then it was probably a disaster. The attendees were letting you speak, and they were not participating in the meeting. Their mind was elsewhere – but you did not know it. I often see salespeople make a mistake by assuming they must fill empty spaces during the meeting with their words; the opposite is true. You should be economical with your words during a web meeting and not try to “out-talk” or talk over the buyer. Do not try to fill the silence with chatter.


What else should I do during the meeting to help my chances of moving the conversation forward?


  • It is essential that throughout the meeting, you solicit verbal assurances from the attendees that they understand what you are presenting and your value proposition. Thinking that they seem to be following or understanding you is not enough. They believe they are being polite by not saying they do not. Do not ask, “Does everybody understand what I am explaining?’ In that case, few people will say, “No, I do not.” Instead, put it on yourself and say, “Have I made myself clear?” Then, if they do not understand what you have explained, they will readily answer “no,” and you can try harder to provide a better explanation.


  • Reinforce the critical takeaways that were presented or obtained through questioning and conversation at the conclusion of the meeting. Repetition increases retention. What five things do you want them to remember from this meeting?


  • Allow sufficient time at the end of the meeting to ask closing questions and define the next steps. I have seen many meetings run over the allotted time. Then everybody leaves the meeting or shuts off the videoconference without essential questions being asked, such as “Did the meeting meet your expectations today? If not, why not?” and “Are there any reasons why you could not purchase our product or service?” It is more important to do this than completing the PowerPoint deck or even demonstrating a few more features. Bonus: there are no planes that you need to catch.


Adaptation is the key to re-calibrating your presentation. We all must continuously grow and adapt to new technology and circumstances. Use Steve’s tips to help you take an objective look to improve your next sales meeting. A special thank you to Steve for sharing his time and advice.

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