Virtual presentations should be considered and crafted with the same level of mindfulness as in-person presentations.
COVID-19 has changed the way we communicate with each other in business. Virtual presentations, virtual meetings and even virtual conferences have become the norm in 2020. Post pandemic, we are still highly likely to be living in a world of virtual presentations in the future.
They have however, created a new phenomenon. Before COVID-19 many of us suffered from, ‘Death by PowerPoint’. The ubiquity of virtual presentations has unleashed a new curse for audiences all over the world. ‘Death by video conferencing’ has taken ‘Death by PowerPoint’ to a whole new level.
The good news is that virtual presentations don’t have to be boring and they won’t be if you follow and embrace these 5 powerful tips.
Tip 1 – Virtual is real
Virtual presentations and in-person presentations have a great deal in common. You still need to capture your audience’s attention, interest, curiosity and keep it.
Virtual presentations have increased presentation and public speaking anxiety far more than in-person presenting. Not physically having your audience in the room with you or not being able to see them online makes many people uncomfortable. The absence of direct feedback in terms of eye contact, facial expressions, body language and easy interaction becomes an issue.
The fact is, if you approach and craft virtual presentations with the same level of attention, creativity and intention to connect with your audience, it becomes much easier and far more impactful. When it comes to presenting, we need to think of virtual presentations as real presentations; after all, that’s what they are.
Tip 2 – Step it up
The one gift you have to capture and keep your audience’s attention, interest and curiosity during virtual presentations is energy.
Presenting with energy means being:
– Verbally expressive – adjusting your pitch, pace, tone and volume throughout the presentation. Emphasising key words, pausing, and using descriptive words.
– Non verbally expressive – sitting up straight, making eye contact with the camera and not the images of people or slides on your screen. Speaking with your hands, being expressive with your face and looking enthusiastic or excited rather than merely sounding it.
– Passionate about your topic and message. Speaking with conviction and belief about what you have to share. Showing how you want your audience to feel by feeling it yourself.
Tip 3 – Keep it moving
Virtual presentations face the same challenge as in-person presentations although in the virtual world your audience is far more easily distracted. The reality is that whilst your audience are listening to you, at the same time they will probably also be:
– Checking their emails
– Looking at LinkedIn or other social media
– Browsing other applications and web pages
– Asking Google, ‘Why are virtual presentations so boring?’.
If you can relate to the belief that most peoples minds are conditioned to wander 47% of the time, you will keep your virtual presentations moving.
That means involving your audience and keeping them verbally, mentally, visually and emotionally stimulated.
– Ask them questions, especially thought-provoking ones.
– Use polling – Polling keeps your audience involved, can be quite energising and provide valuable feedback.
– Use chat, breakout rooms and white boards.
– Keep your slides highly visual, compelling and moving. Don’t leave your audience staring at the same slide for too long.
Tip 4 – Keep webcams on
As well as having your webcam on, encourage your audience to have theirs on too. People are generally more alert and engaged if they know they are on camera. As the presenter, it’s often far more helpful seeing other people’s faces rather than staring at your own webcam. Before you switch your webcam on for your audience:
– Make sure you have a pleasing background. No beds, messy rooms, clutter, open cupboards or dying plants.
– Make sure your you have good lighting. Natural window light facing you rather than your audience works well.
– Avoid using virtual backgrounds. Your audience want to see you, not a fuzzy version of you floating on the Golden Gate Bridge.
– Make sure your audience can see you and avoid moving around so much that they can’t. Sit far enough away from the camera so that your shoulders are visible.
– Make sure that your camera is at eye level so that you don’t have to look up or down at it.
Tip 5 – Give them the Gold
One of the biggest and most damaging mistakes many presenters make when presenting in-person is data dumping. That means flooding their audience’s minds and eyes with everything they know and want to say rather than what their audiences need.
Virtual presentations are not the place to dump data. People are extremely discerning and far less patient and tolerant online. Remember, they are a finger tip away from switching to many things far more interesting than your pie charts and bullet points.
‘Imagine you are panning for gold. You can be absolutely certain that most of what you will find is dirt, dust and gravel. If you filter long and hard enough you just may find a piece of gold. That’s our job as presenters, to filter the ‘noise’ until we find the gold.’
The secret to successful virtual presentations is the same as it is for presenting in- person; it’s authenticity. That said, Mindful Presenter doesn’t subscribe to the commonly held belief that authenticity simply means ‘being yourself. It’s about being our best selves in the way we mindfully consider, craft, create and deliver a presentation which makes a real difference to our audience.
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If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and presentation coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.
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