Virtual presentations and meetings have become the norm since COVID-19. Both in-person and virtual presentations require some of the same basic skills but with virtual presentations, some of those skills need to be adjusted to compensate for the ‘distance’.
With in-person presentations, your audience is basically stuck with you, while with virtual presentations they can be easily distracted and stray. With online presentation, you have to be engaging enough to keep the audience’s attention from moving on to other conflicting priorities.
Here are some tips to make your next virtual presentation successful
Have a solid plan for your presentation beforehand. This means getting and familiarizing yourself with the chosen software, preparing your notes, testing your audio and video quality, and making sure your lighting and background is good enough.
Showing up for your presentation late because you had to figure out how to download the software or because you could not get your audio/video to work right is a sure way to put your audience off.
Engage your audience
Content is key in virtual presentation. With an in-person presentation, you can keep your audience engaged with your body language, your facial expressions, your onstage movements, making eye contact with your audience, etc. but with virtual presentation, you don’t have that luxury.
It’s therefore important to carefully design your content to inform, entertain, and educate your audience. Keep your information clear, concise, and visually appealing. Use a variety of images, graphs, and media to keep your audience engaged.
Keep it interactive
Use polls, Q&As, surveys, and chats to make your audience feel they are right there with you and keep them actively involved in the presentation. When trying to keep your audience involved and make the session interactive, it’s important to use it appropriately, in a way that both benefit the audience and moves the presentation forward.
Distractions can easily derail your train of thoughts so it’s important to prepare for them and come up with effective ways to eliminate them. For example, since you may most likely have the meeting in your home, try to find a quiet spot away from screaming children, TV sounds, and slamming doors.
You should also consider having other people on the call turn off their microphones while you are presenting – this would eliminate distractions coming from their end. In addition, refrain from reading and responding to chats/questions during your presentation until you are done, as this can very easily derail your train of thought.
Be real and have fun
If it looks like you are enjoying the presentation, others would enjoy it too, so model the energy you want to see. Remember that all presentations, in-person or virtually, are performances done in service to your audience. Their time is valuable, so honour their time by delivering the best presentation you can.
Even though you may not be able to see your audience, they can see you, so to build a connection with them, try to maintain eye contact with your camera and avoid looking down at your notes too frequently.
Remember to keep your presentation short and to the point and have fun while at it. People are more inclined to listen to you when they are having a good laugh and having fun, and tend to retain more information when they are happy than when they are bored.