Many of us have been called on to give a virtual presentation over the last 12 months; it’s become the ‘norm’.
With so many people working from home all over the world we have all become used to the virtual presentation.
Coaching and training professionals to craft and deliver a high impact virtual presentation is now an everyday experience.
Within a few short months the world changed.
The virtual presentation became a natural, simple and very powerful way to communicate.
As 2020 progressed, the world opened up to a more casual way of presenting through Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype and a multitude of other video conferencing platforms.
In the last few months, we have coached people from all over Europe, the Middle East, the US and Asia, as well of course as the UK, through the power of the virtual presentation.
Many of our longstanding clients have turned to us for answers over the last year. Here are our top 32 tips we’ve been sharing with them.
- Make it content rich
Mindfully crafting your content is the first key to a successful virtual presentation. The biggest challenge we all have in presenting virtually is the very high risk of our audience multi-tasking. In a previous article I published in 2019 I wrote, ‘The prerequisite to a brilliant presentation before focusing on delivery is to ensure that the message is supported by rich, relevant and rewarding content.’
- Start as you mean to continue
Make sure that the first words you utter are designed to capture your audience’s immediate attention, interest and curiosity. Make them think the moment you begin speaking.
- Make them feel something
Setting out to simply inform and engage your audience isn’t enough; it’s a prerequisite but your audience need more. Set an intention to make them feel something emotionally about your content.
- Share an experience
Don’t just give your audience the data, share a short, relevant and meaningful personal experience that your audience can relate to.
- Show them the future
Ensure that everything you say and show your audience is mindfully crafted to show them very clearly what the future will look like for them if they listen to you.
- Make it personal
Make sure that everything you share with your audience is personal or relevant in some way. If it’s not totally relevant to them you will lose them.
- Challenge the status quo
Your audience are longing for something different. Tell them stories (short, relevant and compelling ones).
- Keep it real
Make it simple, happy and light hearted (where appropriate). Ditch the corporate persona; being professional doesn’t mean you have to be deadly serious all of the time.
- Help them imagine
Paint pictures in their minds by using descriptive language and personal examples they can relate to.
- Surprise them
Tell them something they don’t already know, can’t ‘Google’ for themselves or read at their own leisure.
- Ask them questions
Involve them by asking them questions. The big, bold thought-provoking ones are the best.
- Don’t try to impress them
Set out to connect with them instead. Do your homework and get to know and understand them before you craft your virtual presentation.
- Never read to them
Reading from a slide that your audience can read for themselves is really annoying; don’t do it.
Don’t read from a script either, make it your business to know your content and create a meaningful conversation.
- One idea per slide
If you’re using visuals make sure that that you only present one idea per slide; anymore and you’ll lose your audience.
- Make it visually appealing
If you’re using slides, use clean, clear professional images. Don’t use clip art, don’t stretch images and don’t make them obvious.
- Easy on the animations
If you’re using visuals keep animations to an absolute minimum and avoid spins, whizzes and wheels.
- Add a little contrast
In-slide videos can add a little colour and contrast to a virtual presentation. Make sure you keep them very short, highly relevant and content rich.
- Get the lighting right
There is nothing worse in a virtual presentation than not being able to see the presenter clearly.
Spend time getting the lighting right and don’t assume that just because it looks fine to you that your audience will feel the same. Take the time to set up a test call with a friend to get some feedback on how they see you.
- Keep it simple and tidy
I’m referring to your background on a virtual presentation. You don’t need anything more than a simple plant, painting or bookshelf. Your audience don’t want to see you standing on a virtual Golden Gate Bridge.
- Look into the camera
Raise your computer’s camera up to eye level and don’t look at yourself, look at the camera. Leave enough distance for your audience to see your face, neck, shoulders and even your hand gestures.
- Don’t just turn it on and hope
Don’t just turn on Zoom, Teams or any other platform and expect to know your way around easily. Invest time getting to know and understand the video conferencing platform you are using long before you set your meeting.
- How do you sound?
In the same way that you will be evaluating the effectiveness of your lighting do the same with your sound. Test it, get feedback and make the necessary changes well in advance.
You may need to wear headphones with a built-in microphone or a USB, noise cancelling microphone. Take the time to get it right.
- Watch out for noise
Plan for disturbances; dogs, phones, open windows, kids, everything.
- Craft a conversation
Create a virtual conversation, not a lecture. Incorporate chats, polls, raised hand features, break out rooms, white boards, quizzes and questions.
Try not to speak for more than ten minutes without some sort of audience involvement.
Check in with them from time to time to ask them how they feel.
- Warm up your voice
The greatest gift you have in a virtual presentation is your voice. Do some vocal exercises before you begin speaking. Don’t leave the quality, tone and range of your voice to chance.
When you speak watch out for your pace and remember to pause.
- Test everything
Don’t leave anything to chance.
Ask a partner, friend or colleague to help you check everything.
Sound, video, polls, chat, screen sharing, lighting, visuals; everything!
- Look in the mirror
Dress appropriately and keep it simple. Your audience don’t want to be distracted by shiny, dangling jewellery, stripes or loud patterns.
With everything visual, less is more.
- Stand up if possible
Everything changes when you stand to present. Your breathing, posture, movement and expression gives you more energy.
- Don’t forget to move
Movement is energy and creates visual stimulation. Use hand gestures let your face do the talking too. Your hands want to speak for themselves and they will move as much or as little as they choose to. You don’t have to talk to them, program them or even practice moving them. All you have to do is take the ‘handcuffs’ off and set them free.
- Watch out for the damp firework
Far too many virtual presentations fizzle out like a damp firework leaving their audience indifferent, confused or simply unenamoured. Close your virtual presentation with us much focus, energy and impact as you opened.
- Have some fun
If you enjoy giving a virtual presentation you increase the likelihood of your audience enjoying it too.
Remember, being professional doesn’t mean you have to be too serious, rigid or deadpan. Smile, have some fun, use appropriate humour. Relax and don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Learn from the experience
A day or two after your virtual presentation, have the courage to ask a few of those who attended how you made them feel. Ask for honest and open feedback about what worked well for them and what didn’t work so well.
The last 12 months has left many people feeling very isolated. With so many of us working from home and relying on technology to connect with each other life hasn’t been easy. The virtual presentation has at least afforded us the opportunity to continue to see and speak with each other. Make every virtual presentation an opportunity to connect emotionally with your audience rather than simply presenting information to them.
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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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