In today’s world, virtual meetings and digital presentations are the norm.
Presenting face to face is often an onerous task for even the most experienced business professional. Now we are increasingly called on to do it digitally.
– Get close to the camera, but not too close.
– Make eye contact, project energy and make it interactive.
– Eliminate distractions.
– Choose the right background.
– Present standing if possible.
– Let your audience see your hands.
– Ditch the bullet points.
– Keep them fully engaged, maintain their attention, interest and curiosity.
There’s plenty more where these came from and whilst they apply to in-person presenting too, it feels tougher when presenting virtually.
Here are 7 keys to delivering powerful digital presentations
1- Know what you are up against
I recently attended an online presentation whilst preparing an invoice, accepting a LinkedIn connection request and responding to an email.
It’s not something I’m particularly proud of. I don’t brag about it as my ability to multi-task.
Why did I do it?
To put it simply, it was deathly boring!
Despite my guilt, I’ve done it before and it’s likely I’ll do the same thing again if I’m on the recieving end of a mindless presentation.
Research suggests that the human mind is conditioned to wander 47% of the time. When you’re attending digital presentations with easier access to a wide range of other distractions, I’m sure that number soars.
That’s the first key; awareness
If you approach and craft your presentation with the awareness that you have an enormous amount to compete with, you will be compelled to raise your game.
From start to finish, make sure that everything you plan to share both verbally and visually is rich, relevant and compelling.
If it isn’t, you are giving your audience license to enter the mind wandering zone.
Give your audience a very good reason to stay connected to you.
2- Start with a promise
Which do you think is more likely to grab and keep your attention?
a) A six-point agenda
b) A promise of something that will make a tangible difference to your life
Therein lays a significant challenge.
It’s easy to ramble through a six-point agenda and a great deal harder to make a promise you can keep.
We live in a world where most of us are overwhelmed with information. The last thing we need is someone reading through a scripted agenda that we could easily read for ourselves.
Make your audience a promise you can comfortably keep; and make sure it’s the first thing you do.
Don’t save your message for the end. Give them a glimpse of the future very early on. In other words, how you aim to make their lives better, easier, happier or positively different.
3- Stick to the point
I have long been a huge fan of the work of the late Stephen Covey. The author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which sold over 25 million copies shared some great truths and wisdom.
Famous for a number of very powerful quotes one of my personal favourites is, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
I’ve heard many business presenters open their presentation with that one quote and then immediately continue to talk about everything other than, ‘the main thing’.
When presenting digitally you want to focus on one topic and one topic alone; if you don’t you will very quickly lose your audience.
Sticking to the point requires clarity of your message and your objective.
What is your message and what do you want your audience to do with it when they close their laptop.
If a piece of data, insight, story or visual does not support your message and objective, leave it out.
Focus with laser like clarity on your message and allow your audience to do the same.
4- Think like a designer
Remember, the moment your audience feels the slightest bit bored you will lose them to one of the other multiple devices they have at their fingertips. The bullet points and charts are guaranteed to send them off.
When using slides
Keep them simple.
Use high quality, compelling graphics.
Colour arouses interest and evoke emotions – use them well.
Stick to one point per slide.
Ditch the templates.
Use single images.
Forget the fancy transitions.
Create bill boards not slides.
5- Get them talking too
Don’t forget, your audience is only 5 seconds away from LinkedIn or Twitter, so lecture them and they’re off.
Get them involved and keep them engaged by not only ensuring that you content is rich and compelling but:
– Ask for their opinions
– Keep it interactive
– Create a poll
– Run a quiz
– Ask for a show of hands
– Invite questions and comments
– Ask them what they think and how they feel
Plan ahead of time to get your audience involved every 3 to 5 minutes. Don’t leave it any longer and don’t leave it to chance.
6- Let them see you
Presenters are often uncomfortable with the fact that they can’t see their audience and that’s quite understandable. Imagine how your audience feel if they can’t see you. Facial expressions and non-verbal gestures are crucial elements of high impact presenting.
People like to see people, not just hear their voices.
Make yourself visible by using a webcam. Don’t rely on your voice alone to hold their attention and stay connected.
Digital presentations are very visual, aesthetic experiences. Not only do your visuals need to look great but you do too.
– Make sure the lighting is good above and around you.
– Dress in plain colours, leave the stripes and patterns in the wardrobe.
– Remember to keep looking into the camera rather the screen.
– Prepare the space around you carefully as they will see that too.
– Ask your audience to turn their cameras on.
7- Speak with impact
You’re not in the same room as your audience, you can’t always see them but if you’re using a webcam, they can see you.
There is a great deal of pressure on your vocal chords to ensure you stay connected and speak with impact.
If you are one of those speakers who has a quieter voice, can sound a little monotone or even have problems slowing down, its likely to sound worse online. Don’t rely on chance or hope that your voice will serve you exactly how you want it to on the day:
– Stretch and challenge it beforehand.
– Do some vocal exercises and warm up your voice before you speak.
– Record yourself on your phone and play it back several times being very honest with yourself about how you sound.
– Get some feedback.
– Make appropriate changes.
Crafting and delivering a digital or video-based presentation is a significant challenge. Implementing these 7 keys, will serve you extremely well.
If you need help with digital presentations
– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.
– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.
– Get yourself some excellent presentation training
Image courtesy of: www.istockphoto.com
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