• Wendi Freeman

Delivering Powerful Virtual Presentations

In person presentations are challenging enough, right? But doing those presentations virtually presents an entirely new set of issues and obstacles. You have to recreate the experience & engagement that comes naturally with in-person events. It is important to understand how to adjust your approach and delivery to keep your audience engaged and entertained, while also providing value and driving home your message.



AUDIO:

Make sure your sound emits clearly. External microphones work better than the native computer microphone. If an external microphone is not available, use earbuds or airpods. Be sure to test your audio first to make sure the sound is clear.


VIDEO:

Some computers have a decent built-in camera, but most are mediocre, and the angle from the laptop to your face often produces an inattentive, off-putting look. And if you use a monitor at your desk, with your laptop off to the side, the result is even worse. Buy a webcam, put it on your monitor, and look directly at the people you’re talking to


LIGHTING:

As a presenter, it is pivotal that people can see you well. Make sure you have good front lighting (and eliminate back lighting)—meaning the light shines brightly on your face and overhead lights and background lights are turned off.. If your back is to a window, close the shades. While natural light is often the best choice, if your home office doesn’t have natural light and you do a lot of virtual presentations, consider purchasing supplemental lighting to enhance your image.


PLAY TO THE CAMERA:

Put the camera at eye level. Try not to have your camera too far above or below you. If it’s too low, you run the risk of creating a double chin. A camera too high makes it difficult to maintain eye contact, as you may find yourself looking down when you speak.


BE ANIMATED:

Just like in a live presentation, you want to present with a little energy and animation. Too slow or too monotone in your voice makes it easy for folks to disengage and tune out. Keeping people engaged virtually requires you to actually be engaging. Remember that a boring in-person, on-stage, presentation will be even more boring when virtual.


BE ENGAGING:

The number one way to crush it on stage is to be engaging. Many of the traditional methods used in person, like physically moving around the room and using eye contact and body language, will need to be modified for the virtual environment. Leverage the technology and incorporate chats, polls, raised hand features, etc. Try not to speak for more than fifteen minutes without some sort of audience engagement, even if it is simple as asking for a headnod that they are with you! Use the participant list to interact with your participants by name.


SLIDE DESIGN:

Many virtual presentations entail slide decks or screen sharing. So important to think of things from the perspective of your audience. Avoid text and bullet-heavy slides. Break apart your slides so there is only a snippet or two of information on each and keep them moving to sustain attendee eyes on the screen. Use powerful visuals and elegant animations (not too many) to take the place of too much text. There is nothing worse than death by PowerPoint. Incorporate audio and video into your presentations to keep the audience engaged


MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS:

Most of the people attending your virtual presentation will be listening to it through headphones, so every noise they hear will be noticeable. Make sure to remove rustling papers, close any browser windows you don't need, disable email pop-ups, and silence your mobile devices.


PRACTICE:

Practice delivering your presentation with your technology in advance of your talk. Make sure all of the features of the technology work. If possible, record yourself practicing the session and take the time to play back and look for areas that worked well and areas that you might want to improve upon. Great presenters, whether virtual or in person, understand the value of continually honing their craft. Be sure to acknowledge your strengths as well as your areas of improvement.


BE YOURSELF & HAVE FUN

Just like in face-to-face presentations, audiences connect to authenticity, so be yourself! Let your personality show through. Have fun. If you look like you’re enjoying the presentation so will others. Research shows that happy people retain information better than bored or disinterested people, so model the energy that you want to create. The audience takes its cue from you.



Remember, whether you are presenting in-person or virtually, all presentations are performances. And all performances are in service to your audience. Their time is valuable, so honor that time by delivering the best presentation you can. No matter what kind of presentation you are giving, you must find ways to create authentic audience connection, engagement, and value.


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