All conferences across the U.S. (and indeed a lot of the world!) are currently on hold and the majority of offices are also being temporarily (and perhaps eventually permanently) moved online. In fact, prior to the virus, about 47 percent of companies were already offering remote options. Therefore, it’s worth investing some time in learning how to create an engaging virtual presentation.
If you’re accustomed to giving live presentations, there are several key differences you should be aware of before you give a virtual presentation for the first time. For example, you aren’t responsible for any tech issues that arise in a live presentation, but you may need to have some basic knowledge in a virtual environment. It’s also much easier for your audience to become distracted on their phone when in a virtual environment. So here are some tips to help you pull off an engaging virtual presentation.
1) Test Your Software and Wifi
If you’ve never given a virtual presentation before, make sure you test your software ahead of time. About 90 percent of presenters just use PowerPoint, so making sure you know how the software works will save you a lot of potential hiccups. This includes learning how to use the comments section and making sure your mic and video camera are working. You should also know who will be on hand to help with any technical difficulties during the presentation. As it’s an online presentation, also make sure that your wifi is able to handle video calls.
2) Use a Moderator
Using a moderator will help drastically improve your audience’s experience. For one, the moderator can answer questions in the chat for you and they can also sift through the best questions and give them to you to answer at the end. Meet with your moderator beforehand and tell them what kinds of questions you want for them to gather for you.
3) Eliminate Distractions
Try to eliminate any distractions that you have in your house. While all of us are in quarantine and our kids are home, make sure that you have a plan in place to ensure that there will be no interruptions. This also includes pets like barking dogs. Tidy up the space behind you as well to ensure that your audience doesn’t see your dirty laundry in the corner or any stray socks.
4) Allow The Audience to See Your Face
Whenever you’re creating a Linkedin profile, an executive’s page or even just a review, it’s always a good idea to include a picture of that person’s face because people connect with it much better. And it’s been proven by science.
A study showed that when presenting several people with various pictures of objects and people, the brain activation increased dramatically when a picture of a person’s face was presented rather than a random object. So even if it’s just a few minutes of your face talking at the beginning, it’s essential that you allow the audience to see you on camera.
5) Involve Your Audience
When you give a live presentation, you probably ask the audience questions, tell them to raise their hands or involve them in some other way to help keep them engaged. The same is true when giving a virtual presentation.
Get comfortable with the presentation software and learn how to ask people to raise their virtual hands and let them know at the beginning of the presentation that you will be calling some of them out and asking them questions. Create a plan for how you will incorporate audience interaction.
6) Use Stories
One of the most challenging aspects of virtual presentations is that people are very easily distracted. Therefore, leveraging storytelling is a great way to keep your audience’s attention. The added challenge of holding a virtual audience’s attention makes it even more necessary to use a strong narrative in your presentation. Consider adding in several slides to also help tell your story.
7) Use Inflection
Inflection can make or break your presentation. It’s important in a live presentation, though it’s even more important in a virtual presentation because you can’t use body language to help tell the story. Don’t use a monotone, but also don’t rush and stumble over your words. Practice incorporating dramatic pauses and even speaking quietly to emphasize an important point.
8) Use Visually Appealing Slides
In a live presentation, the audience’s attention will be split between your body language and your slides, though in a virtual environment, almost all of their attention will be spent looking at your slides (even if you are on camera as well). So make visually appealing slides. You may want to hire a designer to create them or at least use a tool like Canva to make them very visually appealing. Ninety-one percent of presenters also claim that a well-designed slide deck makes them feel more confident.
9) Too Many Rather Than Too Few Slides
Similar to using visually appealing slides, leverage them to help keep up the pace of your presentation. You may want to increase the number of slides that you typically use in your live presentations to help keep your audience engaged. This will also keep you from lingering on one slide for too long.
10) Allow Time For Questions
Finally, don’t take up too much time. Your audience has a schedule and other things they need to get done. Plan a few minutes for questions and even if you don’t have a lot of questions, your audience will appreciate getting out early rather than getting out late.
Even if you’ve presented to large live audiences, presenting virtually is certainly a new kind of challenge. It’s not as easy to hold the audience’s attention, though it also has its advantages, such as not having to travel anywhere or even leave your home. Begin preparing weeks in advance and consider updating and adjusting your current presentations to match a more virtual presentation style.