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Best practices for virtual presentations: 15 expert tips that work for everyone.
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In today’s COVID-19 world, virtual meetings and presentations have become the norm. While many presentation skills and best practices apply to both in-person and virtual presentations, expert virtual presenters understand the importance of adjusting their approach to match the medium. With in-person presentations, you more or less have a captive audience — you still need be engaging, but your audience is kind of stuck with you for the duration. But with virtual presentations, your audience has a greater opportunity to stray. You now have to compete for their eyes, ears, hearts, and minds against diminished attention spans, increased home and work life distractions, and conflicting priorities.
Here are 15 expert tips to set you up for success in your next virtual presentation:
1. Get the Lighting Right: As a presenter, it is essential that people can see you well. Make sure you have good front light—meaning the light shines brightly on your face. 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.
2. Choose the Right Background: Try to use a background that enhances your professional image and is aligned with your message. Avoid a cluttered background or anything that can be distracting. Learn whether your presentation platform enables you to use virtual backgrounds (like Zoom) or whether you can blur your background (like Microsoft Teams). Your background can either add to your professional presence or detract from it.
3. Know the Technology: Nothing kills a presentation faster than a presenter who fumbles with the technology. This is a performance, so make sure you know how to make it work. A dry run is essential so that you’re comfortable with the platform features. It’s best to have a co-host (or producer or moderator) assist you with the technology so that you can focus on your presentation. Make sure you practice with the same technical set up (computer and internet connection) that you will use when you deliver the presentation.
4. Play to the Camera: When you are the one speaking, look directly into your computer’s camera , not on the screen or at the other participants. This takes some practice, but it makes the viewer feel as if you are looking right at them. Some presenters turn off their self-view so that they aren’t distracted by their own image. Put the camera at eye level . Try not to have your camera too far above or below you. If it’s too low, then you run the risk of creating a double chin. A camera too high makes it difficult to maintain eye contact, as you may find your gaze dropping as you speak. If you are part of a panel or a team of presenters, make sure you are aware of when your camera is on. If you are not speaking but your camera is on, make sure you look like you are paying attention! Powerful presenters understand the importance of making eye contact with their audience, so this means you have to simulate the same effect virtually.
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5. Get Close (But Not Too Close). You want the camera to frame your face, neck, and shoulders. People are drawn to faces, so you don’t want to lose that connection by being too far away, but you also don’t want your face to take over the whole screen like a dismembered head because, well, that looks weird. Practice your positioning and distance.
6. Stand Up: If possible, use a standing desk or position your laptop so you can stand at eye level with your computer. Standing up provides a higher energy level and forces us to put our body in a more presentation-like mode. If you have to sit, lean forward as you would if you were presenting at a real meeting or as if you were a TV news anchor. Avoid slouching away from the camera, as that sends a signal that you are disconnected from the audience.
7. 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.
8. Pace Yourself: Without real-time visual audience feedback cues, getting the pacing right can be difficult. Even though you want to infuse some animation and energy into your presentation don’t pump up the speed too much. If you tend to be a fast talker in real life, practice slowing down just a bit. If you’re a slow talker, you may want to speed up just a bit.
9. Do A Sound Check: If your sound is garbled, people will tune out. While people may forgive less than perfect video, if they can’t clearly hear you, they will leave. Practice with someone on the other end of the presentation platform. Make sure your sound emits clearly. Sometimes headphones or external microphones work better than the computer audio, sometimes not. Every platform is different, so make sure your sound quality is excellent every time. And again, you should practice with the same technical configurations and location that you will use for your presentation.
10. Plug into Your Modem: If possible, plug your computer directly into your modem using an Ethernet cable. This will give you the strongest signal and most stable internet connection. The last thing you want to happen during your presentation is to have a weak or unstable internet signal.
11. Incorporate Redundant Systems. If using slides, make sure someone else (another webinar co-host or producer) also has a copy of the slides just in case your internet goes wonky and you have to present by calling in. If you are using slides, make them visually appealing. Use high-quality graphics and limit the amount of text on each slide. It’s your job as presenter to deliver the content. The slides are meant to enhance your spoken words, not replace them.
12. Engage Your Participants. Just as if you were doing an in-person presentation, craft your presentation to engage the audience. Incorporate chats, polls, raised hand features, etc. Try not to speak for more than ten minutes without some sort of audience engagement. Use the participant list to interact with your participants by name. Have people chat or raise a hand if they want to speak. Keep track of the order of people and then call on them to invite them to turn on their mics or cameras.
13. Let Someone Else Check the Chats. Don’t get sidetracked by the chats during your presentation. You’ll be shocked at how distracting it is to your train of thought if you attempt to read the chats while speaking. Instead, have your co-host or producer monitor the chats. If you ask people to chat you answers or comments to a question you’ve posed, then pause your talking and engage directly with the chats by acknowledging them, reading them out loud, and commenting on them.
14. Evaluate and Enhance: If possible, record 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.
15. Be Yourself and Have Fun: Again, 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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How To Ace Your Virtual Presentation: Our Top 10 Tips
Table of contents, what is a virtual presentation.
A virtual presentation is a demonstration, lecture, informational session or speech meant to inform, persuade, motivate, build goodwill , or present a new concept through a digital medium such as a web video conferencing software where the host, presenter and attendees are convening remotely.
Virtual presentations have gained popularity over the last decade due to the advancement of video web conferencing software such as Zoom and Google Meets as well as the convenience virtual presentations have afforded us. Virtual presentations have also helped break down challenges experienced in different fields of work and study.
How Are Virtual Presentations Different From Regular Presentations?
On the surface, it might seem that the only difference between a virtual, online presentation and an in-person presentation is the method in which it is delivered.
In reality, however, the two require different approaches to keep viewers engaged in the presentation. Here are two major differences between virtual and regular, in-person presentations you should consider when deciding if your next meeting should be held online or in-person:
Audience Members – Is The Audience Engaged?
Participants viewing a virtual presentation are far more easily distracted than a typical meeting participant would be when viewing the content in the same room as the presenter. With in-office presentations, participants are typically in the conference room, which is a controlled environment with fewer distractions competing for attention, making it easier to pay attention to what the speaker is saying.
Self-surveillance is also less prominent in a virtual meeting rather than in a physical meeting. When you’re in a room with other individuals, you subconsciously start to self-regulate your behaviour thinking others are watching you. For example, you will not find yourself looking at your phone and you will maintain eye contact with the speaker.
With virtual presentations, on the other hand, the attendee has the ability to turn off their video and microphone allowing them to easily switch their attention to other distractions like their phone or carry on side conversation without anyone else ever knowing.
Scalability & Flexibility
Unlike an in-person presentation where the host, presenter and attendees are physically present at a singular location in the real world, virtual presentations allow for greater scalability which is not bound by the physical environment they are held in.
An in-person meeting would have you bound to the limitations of the room or venue space and the flexibility of other people to attend the presentation at a singular location. On the other hand, a virtual presentation allows you to present to more people at the same time, aided by group video conferencing services, which allows for hundreds of participants per meeting. With a virtual presentation, you are not restricted to the physical capacity of a venue space or the challenge of traveling distances for people.
Either virtual or in person you need a visual presentation that captures the attention of your audience before you tell your story.
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Why Are Virtual Presentations Important?
Virtual presentations are important because they help break down barriers when it comes to bridging time zones, connecting remote regions and keeping one another safe as we have recently seen with COVID-19.
Remote teams working in space or up north in remote regions are able to share their research and findings far more quickly and easily by being able to connect with other researchers around the world and discuss in real-time. Although it may seem like this could have been done with phone calls, fax machines or even videos, virtual presentations allow for a consolidated, streamlined process that allows for spur-of-the-moment conversations with multiple people in a live presentation format.
As globalization continues to impact our everyday lives, virtual presentations are another way we are connecting with one another around the world. With remote work on the rise , learning about virtual presentations and the nuances that come with them is an important skill to know as more companies, government agencies and cultures adopt virtual presentations and communication.
How Do You Create A Virtual Presentation?
With any other project you decide to take on, to make it excellent, knowing where to start and setting up a good foundation is key to its success. The same applies to virtual presentations. If you don’t have a solid plan in place or create a solid foundation on which to build your presentation upon, your presentation won’t be as successful as it could be.
We’ve put together our top four virtual presentation tips to bring your virtual presentation to life.
1) Start with your content
First, you need to start with your content and understand what message you want to share with your audience. You need to fully understand the topic and content at hand so you’re confident in your delivery.
Start by asking yourself some questions.
- What are the key takeaways you want everyone to leave with?
- What is the purpose of sharing this content?
- Is this content relevant?
- What questions might the audience have and do I know the answer to those questions
It might help to create a story around your topic with a beginning, middle and end to help guide you and your audience through the content.
2) Think about your slides
You want your slides to be engaging. Without engaging slides, you’ll lose the interest of your audience. Remember to keep slides colorful. Use an image or a graphic to help tell the story of the slide. Don’t go overboard though. Keep it simple and follow a 1:1 ratio. One image per slide.
3) Focus on your audience
Throughout your career, you’ll be presenting material to different audiences. Not every audience is the same. For younger audiences, you’ll want to use more visuals and use more vocal energy to keep the audience’s attention. For an older demographic, you might want to keep things more succinct, to the point and talk at a slower pace. It’s one thing to know the content and create a great presentation but it’s useless if you’re not sympathetic to how your audience gathers information.
4) Be dynamic
Keep the attention of your audience by being dynamic and not static. If you’re able to present with a webcam, then do so. Take advantage of as many tools and features as the video web conferencing software you decide to use will allow. For example, some software allows you to have the audience interact with your screen and slides. Depending on the content you’re delivering, you can even have the attendees break out into smaller groups. This will keep the presentation lively, unique and encourage audience participation. Ultimately, you want to keep it fun.
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Our Top 10 Best Virtual Presentation Tips
Before you deliver your next virtual presentation , be sure to review these ten tips to help you prepare.
1) Proper Webcam & Lighting
First, check your webcam and lighting. Before you present, turn on your webcam and make sure you’re visible. Even if you think you have sufficient lighting, it’s always best to double-check as some webcams aren’t calibrated correctly. If you’re using a ring light, it may appear like a harsh, blue light is being used. Use this time to also check your microphone and audio source. You’ll be able to check the sound quality and ensure the audio pick-up levels are correct.
2) Familiarize Yourself With The Technology
If you’re not used to presenting virtually or you’re using new software, try practicing your delivery with the technology you’ll be using. If you run into any technical issues, you’ll be able to resolve them beforehand.
3) Check Internet Connection
This is absolutely critical . A virtual meeting or presentation is only possible with an internet connection. If you don’t have a proper internet connection, you won’t have a presentation. It’s also a good idea to practice presenting with all the technology you’ll be using as more software usage requires more internet bandwidth. If you plan on presenting with your webcam on, test your internet connection with your webcam on so you have an accurate measurement.
4) Talk To The Camera
When you’re delivering your message, make sure you keep eye contact with the camera . This will allow the audience who is watching your presentation to feel more connected and engaged. If you’re simply reading from a screen, it makes the presentation feel inauthentic, unpolished and it makes it seem like you’re not confident in the content you’re presenting.
5) Present As You Would In-Person
If you have the ability to stand up while presenting, you should . Standing is beneficial because it allows your airways to be fully open. While you’re sitting, your core is typically tight and you might find yourself hunched over. This will restrict your diaphragm from moving to its fullest potential. If you stand, you’ll have a much clearer voice when speaking.
6) Use Body Language
Keep your presentation dynamic. Your body is a communication tool. Use hand motions to emphasize key points. Use facial expressions to deliver emotion . The combination of body language with your words will help connect the audience to your message on a much deeper level.
7) Engage Your Audience Members
Keep your audience engaged and allow them to participate. Some ways you can keep your audience engaged is by using polling software to ask the audience questions. You can host a Q&A at the end of your meeting , or you can have them play games like Kahoot! to win prizes.
8) Have A Moderator
Having a moderator helps you stay focused. A moderator can help monitor the chat and gauge audience engagement. If you’re conducting a Q&A session, depending on the software you use, a moderator can help filter questions that might be inappropriate. They will screen questions before they are made public to the rest of your audience.
9) Use Evaluation Tools & Learn
This is a tip not many presenters take advantage of that will help you stand out amongst the rest and will make your next presentation even better. At the end of your presentation, consider sending out a poll. Ask for feedback from your audience to see how well you did . You might want to ask their opinion on the visuals, see what information they retained or see how you presented as a whole. If done correctly, for your next virtual presentation, you’ll know if you need to slow down if you’re a fast talker or if you need to add more visuals.
10) Be Yourself
The most important tip of them all is to be yourself . When you’re yourself, you’ll have fun. Presenting and everything will appear natural.
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Crush Your Next Virtual Presentation
A little prep can go a long way.
While virtual communication platforms help keep remote teams connected, they’re not always the ideal venue for delivering engaging presentations. It’s difficult (or impossible) to read your audience’s nonverbal cues over video and audio — if you’ve lost them, you might not even realize it. You’re also up against the many distractions inherent to working from home. Delivering effective presentations over video requires a little extra preparation. Ask a few people you trust to help you out before and after the meeting by being ready to participate when called on and by giving you actionable feedback afterward. Learn about your audience in advance and build in a short, relevant personal story that will make them feel included. Above all, be concise and clear.
My coaching client, an engineer named Carlos, is a magnificent in-person storyteller. He talks with his hands and tells lengthy, animated stories replete with humorous metaphors and plot twists. His wit and warmth used to be received positively.
But when giving presentations over video, Carlos’ stories tend to fall flat. His recent feedback reveals that he frequently trails on for too long, losing his audience amid unnecessary detail and failing to deliver succinct, concise communication.
Carlos is not alone. While virtual platforms help us connect with one another across distance, they also pose a challenge for leaders accustomed to presenting in person. Reading the room online requires more focus, and a digital environment makes it harder to comprehend nonverbal cues like tone, pitch, and body language. For example, when connecting with people in person, the human brain relies on microexpressions of the human face to interpret receptivity and inform judgment while communicating. In a virtual meeting platform, a presenter may only have access to a few faces (or none at all). Add to that remote work’s myriad distractions and inconsistent internet connectivity interfering with video and audio quality, and it can feel impossible to gauge your performance and reception in real time.
Leaders must tap into a different skill set to effectively deliver their messages and be engaging in a remote environment. Virtual venues require you to transition from reading nonverbal cues in the moment to getting curious about your participants before, during, and after presentations to ensure your message lands. Here are six ways to deliver well-received presentations when you and your audience are bound by the limitations of virtual communication.
Use the tech’s features. While certain video platforms can limit a presenter’s ability to engage with audience members’ faces in real time, built in-features like polls, chats, whiteboards, thumbs-ups, or raised hands can help you get and keep people’s attention. Incorporate these engagement tools early in the presentation to get people in the mood to participate.
Open with a story that speaks to your audience. Gather some information about your participants beforehand and build in a personal story that will resonate with them. Keep it short and specific to avoid meandering and losing them. Stories, anecdotes, and metaphors are proven to increase engagement — as long as they’re delivered with authenticity and vulnerability and clearly reinforce your desired message. If you’re not sure if your story is relevant, consider running it by a trusted colleague as you prepare for your presentation.
Solicit participation in advance. Research shows that facilitating meetings in an active way , including calling on participants to share, is key to increasing engagement and effectiveness. Give your audience an early heads-up that you’ll be asking for two or three volunteers to share during the meeting — this will help people stay attentive and poised to participate, and it will minimize their likelihood of multitasking or checking out. Also, before the presentation, ask a few selected people to contribute, then call on them early.
Be clear, be brief, and be quiet. Keeping your message concise, simple, and clear has never been more important than when battling the many distractions inherent to a virtual room. Keep lengthy monologues to a minimum, and don’t avoid silence. When you ask a question, wait confidently for someone to answer, rather than automatically interpreting silence as a lack of engagement. It can take longer for participants to digest and respond to information over video, so use the extra seconds as an opportunity to listen deeply before asking a follow-up question or calling on a volunteer.
Don’t discount nonverbal cues entirely. A 2007 study found that people can read information and emotions better if their body language and facial expressions are also on display. Before you present, encourage participants to have their cameras on, and identify one person to whom you’ll aim your delivery throughout your presentation. Watch that person’s face and body language for signals of how they’re receiving your talk. Head nodding, smiling, sustaining eye contact, and leaning in are good signs, while yawning, crossed arms, a stoic look, or eyes cast downward or sideways can signal disengagement and that you need to change your approach.
Follow up for feedback. After your presentation, solicit feedback from one or two trusted participants to see if you delivered your intended message successfully. If the meeting was recorded, watch the video, paying special attention to how participants responded to your attempts to engage them. Identify two or three techniques you can incorporate next time to improve your connection with the audience.
Before his next 200-person, virtual all-hands meeting, Carlos decided to take a new approach to engaging the room. In advance of the presentation, he asked three senior staff members he could count on to participate and contribute within the first five minutes. He asked his team for topics ahead of time in order to curb his tendency to deliver unilateral storytelling, and during the meeting, he opened up the floor for shares and chats, which led to an active discussion of the team’s concerns. As a result, his audience was more engaged and participatory than normal, and he got feedback that it was his best presentation so far.
- GS Gia Storms is a leadership coach and member of The Boda Group. She facilitates team and executive coaching from Los Angeles.
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10 Expert Tips to Boost Your Virtual Presentation Skills
Here we have put together some advice for boosting your virtual presentation skills. With five practical tips for improving the look and audience experience of your talk, and five presentation techniques to up your public speaking game and impress your audience.
1. know your tech.
Familiarising yourself with the technology you’ll be using during your virtual presentation well in advance of delivering it will help to prevent any uncertainty or problems when the time comes to present. Whether that means becoming well versed in the functionality of your chosen video conferencing software or ensuring you’re making the most of your presentation platform. This little bit of prior preparation can add that all important extra bit of professionalism and polish.
2. Background (and Foreground)
It’s a nice thought to think that when you’re presenting your audience is just listening to the words you’re saying, and only looking at the slides you’re showing on screen. But the reality is that people will be scrutinising the room you are in, and however much of what you are wearing that they can see. So, whatever is in the background, remember to: keep it tidy, keep it conventional, and don’t leave something in there that’s going to catch peoples’ eye (unless you’ve got a mischievous sense of humour!).
Much like the in-person equivalent, virtual presenting is as much about the visual as it is about the aural. Making sure your audience can see you properly is key to upping your virtual presentation game. So make sure your face is well lit. Making sure you are lit from the front rather than the back is the key, and a couple of angles if possible. Natural light is best, but - if that’s not possible - artificial lighting will work just fine. Just play around with your options beforehand to find the right set up for you.
4. Camera and Mic
Now you have applied so much effort into making yourself and your background look presentable and professional, it would be a shame if your audience didn’t even get to see it clearly! So consider the quality of your computer’s built in webcam and ask yourself: is this good enough? A good quality external webcam is a relatively inexpensive alternative that can make a real difference. And since you’ve gone to the effort with the camera, you might as well go the whole hog and invest in an external microphone too.
Top Tip: Remember to be prepared for this to add an extra layer of technical complexity to the Know your Tech advice, but you will reap the rewards!
5. Stand up
This is a simple one, and might seem a little bit silly. Maybe even unnecessary. But you’ll be surprised how much of a difference it can make. You may think that presenting is just an oral activity, but in practice it is a whole body performance. Standing up while you present will energise your body and therefore your delivery. These are the kind of fine margin differences that can take your presentation from good to great.
6. prepare and practice.
The most important aspect of your virtual presentation is the presentation itself. Ensuring you have put enough time into preparing and practicing your remarks so that you’re comfortable and relaxed on the day is the cornerstone of your virtual presentation toolkit. For this one there are no quick fixes, but the time and energy you invest ahead of presenting will pay dividends when the time comes to present.
7. Address the Camera
This is a tricky one and takes a little practice, but speaking directly to camera - rather than looking at the screen or your notes - goes a long way to keeping your audience engaged. It may seem like a small thing, but getting into the habit of presenting to the camera has the effect of reaching through the screen and individually addressing audience members. So do it!
8. Be Clear
When you think of what it means to be a great public speaker, what you might think of is a dynamic, energetic, and attention-grabbing performance. But trying too hard to “perform” can result in a presentation that is rushed and chaotic. Speaking slowly and clearly is sometimes a little counterintuitive when faced with a waiting audience whose time you don’t want to waste or whose attention you want to keep, but you are much more likely to keep their attention if they can understand and follow what you are saying.
9. Engage the Audience
Working in strategies to engage your audience can be the thing to transform your presentation from good to great, and the difference between a forgettable and a memorable talk can often hinge on this point. Grabbing your audience’s attention by getting them involved from the beginning with an icebreaker, clearing up any uncertainties at the end with a Q&A, or interspersing interactive elements throughout your talk will serve to elevate your delivery and maintain the focus of your audience.
10. Ask for Help
Finally, all of this is a lot to think about and contend with, so remember that it’s alright to ask for help (and your presentation will likely be the better for it!). Delegating the task of managing the audience, moderating the Q&A, or some of the technical aspects can help reduce presenter stress and make your presentation shine!
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7 Ways to Crush Your Next Virtual Presentation
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It's hard enough retaining the attention of your audience when delivering a presentation face-to-face. How can you do so when the people you're addressing aren't even in the same room?
Virtual presentations, or presentations delivered over videoconferencing software, appear to have skyrocketed in popularity since COVID-19 and the remote-working boom. But you might be surprised to learn that this meeting format has been a favorite for nearly a decade.
Way back in 2013, the Harvard Business Review reported that as many as 80% of presentations were delivered remotely. In a virtual setting, presenters have instant access to all of their colleagues, no matter where they are in the world and at any time. It's an opportunity for increased collaboration, improving efficiency and saving time and money that would otherwise be spent on business travel.
Taking the time to hone your virtual presentation skills is well worth it during the coronavirus crisis and beyond. Here are seven tips for delivering a killer presentation that will keep your attendees focused, engaged, and alert.
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1. Communicate your passion
When you present virtually, rather than in a meeting room, it's harder to convey your humanness. To avoid slipping into a robotic mode and sending your attendees to sleep, a concerted effort is needed.
Imagine that your webcam is a person you're eager to engage with. An enormous part of how we communicate is through body language , and that doesn't change in a virtual setting. You wouldn't dream of spending a 30-minute face-to-face conversation reading notes from a sheet of paper or failing to make eye contact.
Consider ways to communicate your enthusiasm and passion for your presentation, whether it's standing up when speaking, using hand motions and gestures to illustrate your points or varying your speaking tone, pitch, speed, and volume.
Ahead of the presentation, record a snippet of yourself speaking. If you sound bored and disengaged, you can guarantee your audience will feel that way when they listen to you.
Remember, you might be discussing a subject about which you are passionate and knowledgeable, but be cautious not to bombard people with masses of information in one go. Be patient with your audience, divide your presentation into bite-size portions, and don't ramble unnecessarily.
2. Create an engaging slideshow
Around 30 million PowerPoint presentations are created every single day. Not only does this mean your audience has learned to recognize an excellent presentation when they see it, but they'll quickly switch off when it doesn't quite meet the mark.
The most important thing to bear in mind when developing slides for your virtual presentation is that readers should be able to take in the meaning of each slide within three seconds – this is known as the glance test .
To ensure your presentation passes the glance test try the following techniques:
- Include one idea or concept per slide.
- Carefully consider your use of slides – if you don't need them, don't use them. Slides are often more of a distraction than an aid in a virtual setting.
- Use images (particularly of people) and color to break up the text. Visuals applied in the right context can clearly illustrate your point and evoke emotional reactions from your audience.
- Don't use too many slides, and don't linger on any one slide for too long. The former could see your audience struggling to keep up, while the latter will bore your audience into switching off.
3. Involve your audience to avoid the Ringelmann effect
The Ringelmann effect refers to the theory that the less someone feels needed in a situation (i.e., a virtual meeting), the more distracted they become, and the less effort they will make. The bigger the audience gets, the less responsibility attendees will feel to make it a success. This impact is magnified in a virtual meeting.
Breakout sessions can happen virtually. Lots of video conferencing software includes a tool that divides attendees into breakout groups. This is a particularly useful feature when presenting to a broader audience – it mixes up the flow of the presentation and encourages everyone to participate in some form. Once you've split your audience into small groups, you might want to assign them with different discussion topics or challenge them to solve a business problem. Once everyone reconvenes, ask a spokesperson from each group to provide an overview of their discussion.
Some other ways to add variety to your presentation include:
- Asking one or two people to step in as guest speakers.
- Incorporating some form of interaction every few minutes, such as asking questions to the group.
- Calling out specific people within the group to ask for their input.
- Allowing time for Q & As at regular intervals during presentation or scheduling time at the end.
- Polling your audience or including survey questions at the end of each section. Again, there are plenty of software options available for polling and surveys.
4. Rehearse with someone in advance
Many people experience nerves before delivering a presentation, whether in person or virtually. If presenting doesn't seem to come naturally to you, ask your manager to help fine-tune your delivery style, the slideshow, or the content itself.
5. Remove external distractions
It doesn't take much to disrupt a virtual presentation. Annoying background noise, faulty technology, or a messy background are enough to distract your audience from the valuable information you're sharing. Identify potential distractions and solutions ahead of your presentation. That means testing all technology in advance, arriving for your presentation ahead of time, finding a quiet place to deliver it, making sure you have poured yourself a glass of water, and rehearsing to avoid mistakes.
Your audience will also be distracted if their purpose for attending your presentation is unclear. Be sure to communicate effectively with your attendees ahead of the presentation, outlining the agenda and providing any necessary supporting information you'd like them to review in advance. Share attendees' contact details so they can reach out to one another for help should there be any technical glitches.
6. Have some fun
There is no need for your virtual presentation to be overly formal or stilted in tone. You're far more likely to capture the attention and earn your audience's affections if you adopt a laid-back, conversational style and incorporate some fun activities. Consider using props to illustrate your points, telling jokes, holding a competition to test the audience's concentration, or conducting an ice-breaker.
Finally, never underestimate the power of storytelling. As many as 90% of people believe that a strong narrative in a presentation is critical for audience engagement. It improves focus, interest, and helps the audience to resonate with what you're saying. Check out this video lesson from the GoSkills Public Speaking course to brush up on your skills:
7. Follow up
The nature of your presentation will determine how you follow-up with your audience afterward. If its primary purpose was to educate and inform, you might simply choose to share some additional resources such as reading lists or websites. Consider offering your time to anyone eager to learn more.
However, if your presentation is business-results-driven, you'll need to clearly outline the next steps and assign roles to your audience. Did you make decisions or come to any conclusions throughout the presentation? What needs to be achieved in the coming weeks, and who needs to make that happen? To help people fulfill their roles, consider sending them the transcript (or recording) of your presentation.
Over to you
Presenting isn't an easy skill to master, but practice really does make perfect. As you fine-tune your presenting technique, remember that your enthusiasm and dedication in the virtual meeting room will go a long way to keeping your audience engaged.
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Hugo Britt is a freelance content writer who believes that every topic is fascinating if you dig deeply enough. Hugo is the co-founder of content marketing agency Discontent.
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Tips for Virtual Presenting, with Video Examples
Updated november 08, 2022 - dom barnard.
There has been an unprecedented rise in flexible working practices , with remote working becoming the norm for millions of people around the world. Businesses have adopted this approach to cater for not only the global workforce, but also staff who wish to maintain social distancing recommendations.
As online presentations become part of everyday working life, Zoom has established itself as the leading software, but other platforms have also seen massive growth , such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Webex.
Presenting virtually is a very different experience to presenting in-person. This article explores tips to ensure you communicate effectively through these virtual presentations.
1. Dial-in before the meeting starts
Dial into your call ahead of time. You should have enough time to set everything up and be able to greet everyone in a relaxed manner as they dial-in. Beware that you may need a few extra minutes to set up your microphone or camera correctly.
If you are hosting the meeting, consider having the first slide of your presentation up on the screen with the topic visible, to reassure people that they have dialed into the correct meeting.
2. Prepare your technology
Ensure your laptop or computer is plugged in or fully charged - the last thing you want is to run out of power mid-way through your presentation (you wouldn't be the first person this has happened to).
Test out your microphone and camera before you start to make sure they are working:
- Test your webcam and position
- Test your microphone
Raise your computer so that you are looking slightly up at your screen (you may have to put your computer on some books to get the right height). This is much more flattering than having the camera below you looking up at you.
3. Dress appropriately
This is one that people often overlook - just because you are home doesn't mean you are not at work. Dress as you would in the office, not only will this create a good impression, but you'll feel more confident as well. If in doubt, err on the side of the professional - you want people to focus on your message, not your clothes.
For additional information, visit these links:
- What to wear for video conferences
- What to wear for a presentation: 10 tips
- What to wear (and avoid) when presenting on camera
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4. Professional surroundings and background
Eliminate any distractions - turn off any devices that could interpret you, such as alarms on your phone, and tell anyone else in the house that you are about to start a video meeting.
Examples of good and bad setups for video-based presentations. Compare the lighting, audio quality, video quality, what people are wearing, and surroundings across the clips.
Which setups look the most professional to you? Do they have anything in common?
Good lighting will make a huge difference to your appearance and make you look much more professional:
"Shadows, dark patches, and uneven lighting obscure facial expression. In the absence of body language, people on video calls rely on facial expressions for complete meaning. Lighting can make or mar your message." - How to look good with better lighting .
Check what is in the background of your camera shot, ideally keep things pain and neutral. Another option is to use a virtual background. These can usually be set up using your video conferencing software.
- How to use Zoom backgrounds
- Custom backgrounds in Microsoft Teams
- Virtual background for Google Meet / Hangouts
- 4 tips for choosing the best virtual backgrounds
Practice Online Presentations
Perfect your virtual presentation skills by practicing them in a realistic online exercise that mimics Zoom, Webex, and Microsoft Teams.
5. Manage your audience
If it's your presentation, decide how you would like to manage the participants / audience. For example, are you happy to take questions as you go along, or would you rather wait and have a Q&A session at the end? How will you field questions? Via a chat feature or verbally?
Practice muting and unmuting participant microphones. Set out the ground rules at the beginning so that everyone is clear.
6. Eye contact with the camera
This is a simple tip that can make all the difference to how you are perceived by the audience. Make sure that throughout your presentation you periodically look at the camera. Try to relax your face and smile. This gives the impression that you are looking into the eyes of the participants and helps to keep them engaged during the virtual presentation.
It can be difficult to actually maintain eye contact this way - this article discusses why it can feel uncomfortable: I Feel So Uncomfortable Making Eye Contact in Work Video Calls
This video demonstrates how important eye contact is during a virtual or video based presentation. Watch the different executives (including CEO Reed Hastings) talk and think about which one comes across the best on camera and why.
7. Know your slides
Most presentations include some visuals to complement what you are talking about. Traditionally Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides and Apple Keynote have been the go-to tools. Whatever software you decide to use, make sure you know how to use the features on it.
Software to help you create presentation visuals:
- Envato Elements
Prepare yourself, so you know how to navigate through your slides and share your screen. Generally, try to keep your slides light on text, as you don't want to overload people with information. It's usually better to expand and elaborate on the slides verbally.
8. Practice your virtual presentation
Practice your presentation with a virtual presentation simulator, so that you're better prepared.
The VirtualSpeech virtual presentation simulator .
9. Keep everyone engaged
Before you start, try to find out who will be on the call. During your virtual presentation you can then ask them specific questions, addressing individuals by name .
There are also other tools that you can use, such as giving control of the screen to a participant, so that they can share a document with the group, if necessary. Beyond this, you can use videos, infographics and even host quizzes, polls or surveys.
- 18 Ways to Make Your Presentation More Interactive
- How to run a Zoom quiz: Tips for quizzing success
- Start a Poll in Cisco Webex Meetings
- Create a poll in Microsoft Teams
10. Be enthusiastic
Remember that sounding confident and happy to be there is the key to success. Your participants will note your mood from your voice, so get into the right frame of mind before you start. As you speak, try to alter the speed and tone of your voice so that you avoid sounding monotonous.
Here are some more ideas to add enthusiasm to your presentation .
This short video shows two examples of enthusiastic speakers. Notice how they use their eye contact, hand gestures and vocal range to appear enthusiastic over video.
11. Body language
Body language helps keep participants engaged. Move your camera away from you a little so that everyone can see your hand gestures.
Many regular tips about body language can be applied to the virtual environment. For example, eye contact can be achieved by looking into the camera (see tip 5). Try pausing and adding a small, subtle nod after you finish making a point. This will add emphasis to what you are saying. This article covers more on how to project leadership presence .
If you are standing up, do not lock your knees as this can look very rigid. You can lightly clasp your hands when you are not making hand gestures, this will help to not distract your audience.
Time your presentation beforehand, so you know roughly how long it will take you. Make sure you have just the right amount of content for your time slot and factor in time for any questions. You don't want to run out of things to say or stay on the call too long either.
Less is more - try not to include too much information, as it is better to stick to a few key messages. The beginning and end of your presentation need to be strong as that is what people will remember the most. You should be clear on your aims at the start and recap everything at the end.
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10 Tips For Giving Effective Virtual Presentations
What to know before you go live.
September 26, 2016
Presenting online? Try these suggestions to improve your results. | Illustration by Tricia Seibold
As audiences go global and you need to reach more people through technology (including webinars, conference calls and teleconference), you must consider the challenges to connecting with a virtual audience. Here I pinpoint 10 valuable best practices to ensure you communicate successfully.
1. Be Brief
Audiences begin to lose attention after roughly 10 minutes of hearing from the same presenter. If you have more than 10 minutes of content, use interactive activities to keep your audience engaged (for example, take a poll, give quizzes, or ask audience members for their opinions via chat).
2. Be Simple
Keep slides simple — avoid too many words, graphics and animation features. Less is definitely more!
Light yourself well | Illustration by Tricia Seibold
3. Be a TV Personality
Look straight into your camera, not the screen. Wear clothing that is neutral in color (no plaids or stripes). Light yourself well and from above. Be mindful of what appears behind you in the background. Invest in a good microphone.
4. Be Standing
Even though your audience cannot see you, stand when you present. This allows you to stay focused and use good presentation delivery skills such as belly breathing, vocal variety, and pausing.
5. Be Prepared
Practice delivering your presentation with your technology in advance of your talk. Make sure all of the features of the technology work. Record your practice using the recording feature of your tool. Watch and listen to learn what works and what you can improve.
6. Be Assisted
Have someone available to deal with technical issues and to field email/text questions. Also, if you have multiple remote audience members in one location, be sure to pick one of them to be your “eyes and ears.” Ask them to queue up questions and facilitate discussion on your behalf.
7. Be Specific
Ask pointed questions to avoid too many people answering at once. For example, rather than ask, “Are there any questions?” try “Who has a question about the solution I provided?” Set a ground rule that people state their names prior to speaking.
Imagine your audience | Illustration by Tricia Seibold
8. Be Synchronized
Transitions are critical. You must connect what you just said to what is coming next when you move from point to point. Transitions between topics and slides are good opportunities to get people reengaged to your talk.
9. Be Connected
Imagine your audience even though you can’t see them. You can place pictures of audience members behind your camera so you can look at people as you present.
10. Be Early
Encourage your audience to access your call or webinar in advance of the start time so you can iron out any technical issues in advance and get them familiar with the technology.
Matt Abrahams is a Stanford GSB organizational behavior lecturer, author, and communications coach.
For media inquiries, visit the Newsroom .
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9 Important Virtual Presentation Tips For You
Demand for virtual presentations is on the rise. Team meetings, webinars, client meetings and even some conferences are being held virtually or at least in a hybrid format.
And most likely you will be doing a virtual presentation soon.
At work, you probably use software like Zoom and GoToMeeting , and there is no way out of that anytime soon.
In fact, as technology evolves the medium of presentations will keep evolving too. I can’t wait for the time when we use a full on Virtual Reality set like Oculus (It will be amazing, and we are getting ready for it at Magnetic Speaking !!).
The good news is that despite the ever-changing medium of presentation delivery , there are constant fundamentals that will never change. This article will help you learn the fundamentals.
The acronym I use to help be ready for Virtual Presentations is PACES:
P- Plan A- Audience C- Content E- Engagement S- Socialization
Plan – for your virtual presentation
The key to an excellent presentation is a solid plan. You have to plan the time, the location, software to use and back up plans.
I once attended a presentation where the speaker showed up 5 minutes late. The worst part was his excuse; he said that it took “him a while to download the software needed.” That reason is not sufficient even for the attendees let alone the speaker.
The best thing to do is think ahead of all the things you need before the presentation and execute. If your planning is done the right way, your virtual presentation should be seamless.
A lot of people fear virtual presentations even more than regular presentations. The reason: in real presentations at least you see who you are talking with, in virtual presentations a lot of times you don’t see them. As a result, you end up speaking into a void with no feedback. When your brain does not get the feedback it needs, it creates all sorts of scary scenarios. You don’t want that.
To avoid the scary scenarios, you have to set an image of a person to talk with mentally. I learned this technique from Oprah Winfrey . She once said in an interview that she imagines her best friend when she looks into the camera. Now I do the same thing; I imagine the ideal person for the presentation I am giving.
For example, if I am doing a virtual presentation for TechWomen’s constituents, I would imagine Dalia (A woman that fits the target audience of TechWomen).
Content is king in the virtual landscape. In the live presentations, you keep people’s attention with your eye contact, with your body language, with your movement onstage. You can’t do any of that in a virtual environment. Therefore, you should consider using a wide variety of media types to keep and attract attention. These include, but are not limited to:
– Links – Images – Screen sharing – Videos – Slides Carefully designing your content is the key to keeping your virtual presentation interesting. To keep your information clear, concise and visually appealing, try to simplify your data point, use compelling imagery, and avoid overloading text. I have experienced slide hypnosis, and I’m certain I’m not alone. It happens when the presenter uses one slide for every explanation or data point and the audience zones out.
A dynamic presentation is an impressive presentation, so use a variety of media, images, and graphics to keep your audience’s attention. Also, information overload and endless slides are a sure way to lose your audience, so be sure to stay on point and have a clear focus.
Engagement will captivate your audience. Take advantage of your virtual presentations to make your audience feel like they are right there – sitting next to you – every time you present. Use live Q&As, surveys, polling and chats (among other engagement technologies) and your audience will be far more involved in your presentation.
However, don’t do engagement for the sake of engagement. I hate it when presenters use silly questions just for the sake of having people interact. Only use interactivity and engagement when it adds value to the audience.
Socialization (very important especially for virtual presentations)
We human beings are social creatures. We like to be individuals, and we like to be part of groups. It is easy to lose this socialization affect when you are communicating with the camera on your laptop. The camera becomes a barrier between you and the audience. To minimize this anti-socialization effect, you have to utilize your language more efficiently to create a more intimate dialogue. It’s simpler than you think – don’t freak out.
To create an individualized intimate sense, use the word YOU as if you are speaking to one person. Instead of saying “Can everyone out there here me” implying disconnected, lost masses, use, “Can you hear me.” it’s a subtle difference, but the effect is significant. If you suggest through your language that you are speaking to a group of fragmented people, then your effect of reaching the individual gets diminished.
If you are talking to your team virtually, make sure you use the word “we” as much as you can. Remember, we as humans like to be individuals, and we also like to be part of a group. Using you, taps into the individual need, and using we taps into the group need.
There is more to giving a virtual presentation than meets the eye. The message you deliver must resonate well with the audience whom you are presenting the content. Therefore, it’s helpful to follow the PACES concept when preparing your presentation. So long as you know how to keep your virtual audience engaged, you can be sure that your presentation will be well received.
Following are five additional ideas that can work well with the concept of PACES while going beyond that established backbone in some very dynamic ways.
More virtual presentation tips
People build trust through eye contact and body language, and this is still true even when you are presenting remotely. Even though you may not be able to see your audience, they may be able to see you if you are using a camera. You can create a connection with your virtual audience by doing the following: – Look into the camera directly and fight the temptation to look down at your notes. – Simulate your intended audience with topic-driven photos of real people. – If you can, stand up and deliver your message as if you are giving the presentation to a live room.
2. Keep it Interesting
Virtual presentations may or may not include a camera.If you happen to be doing a presentation without a camera, your slides and voice are the only tools that you have available. Provide clear slides that are easy to digest without an overabundance of details and information on any one slide.
If you are using a camera, it is best to stand while speaking. Use body language, such as hand movements, and vary the volume, speed, and pitch of your voice.
One great way to grab the interest of your audience is to have a guest speaker, either pre-announced or as a surprise. Sometimes I bring one other Magnetic Speaking trainer to my virtual presentations. I cover one topic, and they cover another; this ensures variety and spontaneity. In addition to doing our designated sections of the presentation, we also interact with each other during the presentation. This keeps it fun and interactive.
3. Eliminate Distractions
Most of the people attending your virtual presentation will be listening to it through headphones, so every noise they hear will be noticeable. To ensure that you do not distract yourself or your audience, use the following guidelines: – Remove rustling papers, email pop-ups, and your mobile devices. – Ask a moderator to field incoming questions from your attendees. – Log into the meeting at least half an hour early. Most importantly plan well. One time I was doing a virtual meeting in my home office while my brother and his kids were visiting. The kids were making lots of noise in the other room, and my audience could hear everything. I could have done better planning on my part because kids will always be kids 🙂
4. Have Fun
Over and above everything else, remember to have fun. If your virtual presentation gives you and your audience the opportunity to laugh, smile and connect, it will be a rewarding experience for everyone. Happy people retain information better and longer than bored or disinterested ones.
Use the tips and tricks discussed above, and you will have no problem creating high-impact virtual presentations. Go through these ideas every time you have a presentation to make, and you will soon find your peers and associates turning to you for assistance when it comes to creating a virtual presentation.
Try not to speak for more than ten minutes without some sort of audience engagement. Use the participant list to interact with your participants
This article contains: · Research your Audience Well in Advance · Be Vigilant with Technical Checks · Embrace the Use of Technology and Visual Aid
1) Proper Webcam & Lighting · 2) Familiarize Yourself With The Technology · 3) Check Internet Connection · 4) Talk To The Camera · 5) Present As You
Crush Your Next Virtual Presentation · Use the tech's features. · Open with a story that speaks to your audience. · Solicit participation in
10 Expert Tips to Boost Your Virtual Presentation Skills · 1. Know your Tech · 2. Background (and Foreground) · 3. Lighting · 4. Camera and Mic · 5.
7 Ways to Crush Your Next Virtual Presentation · 1. Communicate your passion · 2. Create an engaging slideshow · 3. Involve your audience to avoid the Ringelmann
Make sure that throughout your presentation you periodically look at the camera. Try to relax your face and smile. This gives the impression
1. Be Brief. Audiences begin to lose attention after roughly 10 minutes of hearing from the same presenter. · 2. Be Simple · 3. Be a TV
Carefully designing your content is the key to keeping your virtual presentation interesting. To keep your information clear, concise and visually appealing
As conferences and other professional events transition to virtual events for the foreseeable future, many professionals will need to get