Here are five virtual presentation top tips for you to consider when you are delivering a presentation. Yes: virtual presentations are here to stay. Whilst there are more face to face meetings and events, the trend is still for the majority of presentations to be delivered virtually. There are some key areas to consider to ensure YOU make a positive difference; that your audience is engaged and you make an impact.
Keep it human
It can be easy to fall into the trap of being “automated”; to speak or present in such a way that is lacking in personality. The challenge is that for some of the time, you aren’t sure if the audience is actually listening to you. And if you are boring or not speaking with energy and engagement, they WILL switch off! Remember that if you smile, be energetic, use your facial expressions, your voice and even gestures, this will transfer across the screen. You need to focus on generating the energy and passion for your topic so your audience will remain engaged. Unlike being in the room, we aren’t as aware of non-verbal communication signs. So in order to be human you have to work harder with your voice, gestures, facial expressions to balance this. Otherwise the attendees might as well be listening to a recorded video.
Make sure your tech works well sound and lighting
We have all attended virtual presentations and events where we struggle to hear the presentation; or the presenter is hardly visible. Sitting with a window behind you or in semi darkness reduces your ability to make an impact and engage your audience. Your audience wants to see the person speaking clearly. Take time to check your tech; have a technical run through which includes a sound check, your slides being visible and lighting. It is time well spent.
Avoid distractions (background, noise etc)
Rather like poor lighting and sound, distractions in the background will result in audiences disengaging. If there is background noise, it is more difficult to listen and they will switch off. Find somewhere quiet to do your presentation. Likewise if there is a lot of movement such as a busy office with people, or a busy background with lots of books – you remember when it was in vogue to sit in front of a book case, these can be distracting. Before you present, as part of the preparation, look where you are sitting; that the background is plain/non-distracting and that there isn’t background noise. Also switch off your phone, tell others you aren’t available and your email alerts!
Techniques for keeping your audience engaged
When you aren’t in the room with your audience, you need to find other ways to keep their attention. As a rule, audiences’ attention span is much shorter in a virtual setting. So you will need to think of breaking your presentation into shorter sections, changing every 5-6 minutes. Add new interest with:
- interesting slides – please put minimal writing on these
- You could add a short video
- Use polls. Either the polling facility within the platform you are using, or an external APP such as Mentimeter or Slido. This means the audience are actively involved
- Ask questions and actively encourage the audience to participate in the chat facility
- Have a longer Q & A at the end
We don’t want you to be overwhelmed by presenting virtually. Have fun! This is a great way for you to be the star of your own presentation. Enjoy what you do; have an interest in the content you are sharing and consider ways you could make the presentation fun and engaging for your audience. Your audience will respond positively to this approach. If you are feeling nervous before, practice. Be prepared. Know what you are going to say. Then you can enjoy the presentation. If you are relaxed and being natural, your audience will pick up on your authenticity.