Virtual presentations and managing the chat

Virtual presentations and managing the chat – a revolving glass door to the past

5 years later the expert guidance on virtual presentations and managing the chat hasn’t changed by more than a pinch………


Five years after the original post, Virtual presentation tips – manage the chatbox! for 3Plus International I am still hosting “Virtual Presentation Basics” and “Tools of Engagement for the Virtual World” training programs.  Both of these programs along with private 1:1 Coaching still have me speaking this line “When engaging with a virtual audience don’t forget to use the [Chat Box].  The Chat Box or messaging box feature has been integrated into most virtual collaboration platforms as of this writing in December 2020.  Most cultures who have standardized American English as their global business language recognize the “Chat Box” either by name or by symbol.

Managing the chat

This feature is physically located in a different area of most of the platform windows on @Zoom @Webex @AdobeConnect @Fuze @WebinarJam @GoToWebinar @Skype @MSTeams however, the function is generally the same.  You can turn it on, turn it off, broadcast to all, private chat with the host, chat with the entire audience, etc.  Most platforms offer the ability to save the chat so you can refer back to the chat box for conversations that may reveal a pot of gold if you read between the lines.  You can configure your platform for the host to save the chat or issue the ability for the attendees to save the chat as well.  Be careful who you allow to save the chat history!


Honestly, I NEVER tire of talking about the Chat Box. I could easily speak at a TedX event for 18 minutes about the Chat Box!

virtual presentations


There are four distinct styles for using the chat:

1. Greeting attendees during a webinar:  Open the session 30 minutes early to “prep” the room.  Ask attendees to chat about the city they are calling in from.  You would be surprised by the various major cities as well as rural areas you may have never heard of show up in your chatbox!  I am always surprised when working with multi-national organizations.

2. Assign pre-work during the designated early log in time:  Start your “pre-session” 1 hour early and assign the agreed-upon pre-work.  This prep time engages your adult learners and works well for busy Executives who may only have limited time and attention.  The pre-work can be as simple as: “Please be ready to share a presentation you have given recently or one you are currently working on.”  This quiet time will give the adult learner the focused time to ponder the presentation in real-time.

3.Marketing opportunity:  During a networking event encourage new attendees to change their on-screen name to their full name with their company name.  For example, in Zoom if you are logged in as “Kimberli Allen”  you can change your screen name to “Kimberli Allen [Everything Webinar].”  Attendees who are logging in for networking LOVE this guidance.  Also, encourage each attendee to chat to “Everyone” their name, company name, and contact information several times during the event.  You can also recommend attendees share links to special offers, deals, or upcoming events in the chat box during the live event.

4.Student engagement:  Recent GenZ research regarding online learning reveals most high school students would like to be acknowledged when they “walk-in” to a virtual classroom.  You can EASILY accomplish this need by reaching out via the chat box. However, most teachers do not recognize the need for unique greetings in the virtual environment.  Furthermore, most teachers have not reached out to ask the students how they would like to be greeted!  FYI Teachers:  Students would like you to know that they are not paying attention to you unless you structure your class to actively engage them.  Passive engagement will not accomplish the goals you seek to meet.  At Everything Webinar we are busy conducting many different research programs to further dissect human behavior as it relates to virtual communication.

One of the most helpful virtual presentation tips is the management of the chat box. This is one tool many presenters overlook and can leave participants feeling disengaged and neglected.


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About the author: Kimberli Allen

About the author: Kimberli Allen

Kimberli Allen, Principal and Founder of Everything Webinar, LLC, is an international communication and presentation skills expert. She has acquired 20+ years experience as a corporate trainer, coach and entrepreneur (both virtual and in-person). Kimberli has designed numerous customized training programs, worked with such clients as Nike, Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, and TAB Products, and personally coached thousands of clients in more than 32 countries. When Kimberli is not leading a training program or launching new products to enhance communication and presentation skills around the globe, you can find her competing in a duathlon or triathlon with her two daughters.