In today’s COVID-19 world, virtual meetings and presentations have become the new norm.

Demand in picking up the new skill sets to conduct a good virtual presentation is on the rise, as a result of team meetings, client meetings, and even some conferences being held virtually, or at least in a hybrid format.

While many presentation skills, tips, and best practices from before do apply to conducting both an in-person and virtual presentation, expert virtual presenters understand the importance of adjusting their approach to match the medium accordingly.

For example, with in-person presentations, you will more or less have a captive audience that is kind of “stuck with you” for the duration of the presentation. But with a virtual presentation, your audience has a greater chance to stray, and 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.

However, I’m here today to share with you first on the good news, that there are some constant fundamentals in doing presentations that will never change. And then add on to that to share what are some of the additional tips that will help you to further excel when conducting a virtual presentation.

 

Effective Tips You May Apply For Both An In-Person & Virtual Presentation

 

1. PLAN

The first step to conducting an excellent presentation is to have a solid PLAN.

Especially when preparing for a virtual presentation, you need to plan the time, location, software to use and also prepare back up plans.

The best tip is to think ahead of all the things you will need before your presentation and execute. If your planning has been done the right way, your in-person or virtual presentation should be seamless.

 

2. AUDIENCE

When preparing for your presentation, you should rehearse while having in mind the type of audience you will be speaking to.

It may be slightly easier for in-person or regular presentations when you’re able to see your audience and their responses or reactions to when you’re speaking, so you get a good sense of how to adjust accordingly.

However for a virtual presentation, there may be times when you don’t get to see your audience, and as a result, end up speaking into a void with no feedback (or a few black screens – people who have switched off their videos). When your brain does not get the feedback it needs, it will create all sorts of scary scenarios, and… that’s definitely something you don’t wish will happen.

To avoid such scary scenarios, you have to set an image of a person that you’re speaking to mentally. This is a very useful technique used by Oprah Winfrey, who once shared in an interview that she imagines her best friend when she looks into the camera. So try it! – When preparing for your presentation, imagine the ideal person for the presentation that you’re giving, and speak to them accordingly.

 

3. CONTENT

The content you put out in your presentation is especially important and the key highlight. And accompanying that is how you deliver this content in an engaging manner to your audience.

With in-person presentations, you may make use of eye contact, body language and movement onstage to keep people’s attention accordingly.

However with a virtual presentation, it may be tough to maintain people’s attentions especially since some may not be fully focused on watching you through the screen throughout the presentation.

Therefore, you may consider using alternative methods and media types to keep and attract attention. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Screen Sharing
  • Slides
  • Videos & Images
  • Interactive Online Tools (e.g. Kahoot, Mentimeter, Wheel of Names, Miro and etc.)

Check out more facilitation & engagement tools that you may consider using for your virtual presentation through this video!

To ensure that you keep your audience engaged with an interesting presentation, take time to carefully design your content – this is the key!

Try simplifying your data point, use compelling imagery, and avoid overloading text, in order to achieve clear, concise and visually appealing information being delivered to your audience.

 

4. ENGAGEMENT

Engagement is the key element to captivate your audience and keep them interested to listen to you when you’re doing your presentation.

When conducting a virtual presentation, take advantage of the opportunity to make your audience feel like they are right there, “sitting next to you”, each time you present. Make use of tools and methods such as live Q&As, surveys, polling, and chats (among other engagement technologies) and your audience will be far more involved in your presentation.

However be careful not to do engagement purely for the sake of engagement. What this means is to only use interactivity and engagement when it adds value to the audience, and not asking “silly questions” (which may be in the minds of your audience) just for the sake of having people interact.

A good example of engagement that our trainers have been employing during our virtual workshops is to start off the workshop with a quick poll to know what are some areas participants wish to specifically learn about or improve in through attending this workshop. This is a good starter to engage the participants to contribute (even if it’s with simple one or two word answers) their thoughts and warm them up to participate well throughout the session. Additionally, it’s also a bonus for the trainer to understand how to best align the workshop to suit the desired learning outcomes accordingly. A win-win!

 

Check out this webinar on Virtual Presentation & Facilitation Skills to gain tips on how to effectively conduct an engaging virtual presentation from our Master Trainer!

 

5. (BONUS TIP for Virtual Presentations!) SOCIALIZATION

Human beings are all social creatures. We like to be individuals, and we also like to be part of groups.

However it’s easy to lose this socialization effect when you are communicating with the camera on your laptop. The camera ends up becoming a barrier between you and the audience. In order to minimize this anti-socialization effect, you need to utilize your language more efficiently to create a more intimate dialogue. Hold on, don’t freak out just yet! It’s simpler than you think, and I’m going to explain how.

To create an individualized, more intimate sense with the audience, use the word ‘YOU’ as if you are speaking to one person. So for example instead of saying “Can everyone out there here me?” in which you may imply disconnected, lost masses, try using “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.

And another tip if you’re talking to your team virtually, make sure you try to use the word “we” as much as you can. Don’t forget that we as humans like to be individuals, and we also like to be part of a group. By using the word “You”, it taps into the individual need, and by using the word “We”, it taps into the group need.

 

Conclusion

Hope that you’ve managed to take down lots of notes and gained new tips and ideas on how to make your in-person and / or virtual presentation interesting and engaging.

 

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/maryabbajay/2020/04/20/best-practices-for-virtual-presentations-15-expert-tips-that-work-for-everyone/#7d7747243d19

https://magneticspeaking.com/9-important-tips-for-virtual-presentations/