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“Can I see how it works?” That’s the opening every salesperson loves to hear on a pitch call. It’s the perfect opportunity to pull up a screen-share and walk the prospect through each glorious aspect of your product. It’ll really SHOW them how you’re going to make their lives easier.

Unless, of course, you’re unprepared to share your screen. Here are the five mistakes that we all make when sharing our screens during remote meetings – and the ones that can do the most harm by distracting from our core message.

personal desktop background1. Having a personal picture as your desktop background

This one’s always tempting, but not very professional. Even if you’re not sharing your desktop, it’s visible each time you move between apps or minimize the document you’re trying to share. Save the shots from your honeymoon trip for your personal computer. On any machine that you use for work, save the company logo or, at the very most, a generic landscape image as your desktop background.

Multi-tasker2. Having multiple applications open at once

You’re a multi-tabber. We get it. You like to multi-task, and think that that makes you effective. During a screenshare, though, not only does this increase the likelihood of your computer crashing halfway through the meeting, but it also shows the prospect what you’ve been working on and gives them lots of distracting places for their eyes to wander during the presentation. Stick to just opening the apps that you’ll need for the conversation at hand.

3. Having a chat app open

Inopportune IM MessageAnd then there’s that moment when your coworker sends you a Chatter message mocking your boss’ accent. That’s definitely not something you want your prospect to see. Most of today’s instant message apps – Skype, Pidgin, Yammer, etc. - feature auto-pop ups, even if they’re subtly placed at the bottom of the screen. Keeping an IM app open during the presentation will invite trouble.

4. Having confidential information about another client on your screen at the same time

Privacy policyAgain, this one’s for you multi-taskers out there. Sure you can focus on more than one client at once, but no prospect wants to feel like someone else is distracting your time. Quite aside from the client’s feelings are the very real confidentiality and privacy policies that your company likely has in place, especially when Chinese walls and privileged communications come into play. Check your taskbar before starting the screenshare to avoid a world of security pains later on.

5. Not using the Pause button enough

pause a screenshareWhen your calendar tab is flashing away, warning you of an impending meeting, it will get hard for you and your meeting attendees to ignore. But you can’t just switch over to your inbox and let them see everything there. Instead, pause the screenshare and move over to the other tab to have a quick look, if you must. It’s a subtle, professional way to keep the distractions from interfering with your conversation.

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“This article was originally posted by Prialto: The Virtual Support Service for Executives. Prialto Virtual Assistants are geared to actually pull your business forward and make delegating easy”

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