Improving your privacy when presenting online
When delivering presentations online, either streaming or pre-recorded, it is important to ensure that you are not inadvertently delivering more information than planned. We can easily have a false sense of security when it comes to doing things remotely, however in addition to your intended presentation/session you may be broadcasting additional information that could:
- enable viewers to be aware of confidential information or information that they would not normally be privy to
- personally identify individuals and details, including yourself
- enable malicious users access to your computer
Here are a few tips to help keep your presentation free of unintended information.
Before your presentation
If you will be broadcasting yourself
☐ Be aware of what is in your background
- Images/artwork or other people in your background can be distracting for viewers and may say more about you than you think or may like. What do the titles of the books on your bookshelf say about you? Could your still life artwork be considered offensive to others? Are others in your location aware you will be on camera?
- Many of the tools available for synchronous video sessions allow you to replace your background with another image. Be aware that this can also be distracting if your background is more exciting than your presentation.
- Be aware that any if you or your clothing is similar in colour to the background your software may decide to make you disappear along with what is behind you.
If you will be sharing your screen
☐ Hide your desktop files and icons
- On Windows operating systems you can right click on the desktop, go to view/show desktop icons. What is on your desktop may be confidential, and some thumbnails and images from icons may not be what you want to broadcast.
☐ Close any applications you don’t need open
- This is especially important for emails and social media apps that may broadcast messages/alerts during your session, unless of course you want everyone to see that your partner wants you to get milk on the way home. It also helps speed up your computer and may make additional bandwidth available for your presentation.
☐ Turn off notifications
- On Windows machines turn off the notifications you receive from all those app and emails etc. You can do this by right-clicking the Notification Center icon at the right side of your taskbar, point to Focus Assist, and select “Priority Only” if you only want to see priority notifications or “Alarms Only” if you only want alarms.
More information on the do-not-disturb features in windows and other focus tools can be found on the howtogeek.com website.
☐ Hide your bookmarks if you will be sharing your internet browser
- Most browsers allow you to hide your bookmarks/favourites. What do you bookmarks say about you?
☐ Close any unnecessary tabs
- Unless you are using additional websites in your presentation, hide or close other websites you may have open. Often the title of the page you are viewing can include details about yourself or other accounts, i.e. gmail will show your full email address in the tab title which could be used to add you to any number of spam lists etc..
☐ Check any links you may be using are still active
If you will be sharing any links with viewers, check the links are still active and will take viewers to the correct information. This is particularly important if you will be polling viewers or using additional resources during your presentation such as whiteboards, question polling apps such as Slido etc.
☐ Ensure the links don’t have any identifying information in them and are for the correct recipient
If you are planning on sending people a link via chat during your presentation then check you are sending them the correct link. Often with google forms and other 3rd party tools there will be a link for the administrator of the page/poll etc. and another link for participants to answers the poll etc.
During your session
☐ Go full screen
Most applications allow you to run in full screen. This helps maximise your presentation and often provides better quality visuals for viewers as it does not need to upsize your image for those watching in full screen. Running in full screen, especially if using your browser (F11 on many Windows browsers), also has the benefit of hiding superfluous information such as your bookmarks, other tabs etc. and makes for a cleaner presentation
☐ If you are recording the session for later distribution please let participants know
Always a good idea to let participants know that you are recording the session as some may want to opt out or not ask questions knowing that it will be made available to others, particular if it will be posted to public forums. It is best done at the start of your presentation so people have fair warning.
After your presentation
☐ If you recorded the session, trim and edit the session to only include the presentation.
- there may be personal conversations between participants leading into a session or after a session that you do not want to record or rebroadcast later.
☐ If you plan on distributing the recording, do a quick check to see if there is anything you don’t want going out to the world
- Remember, once it is on the internet it is in some way shape or form, always on the internet.
- Check with other presenters if they are happy for the recording to go online.