How to deliver effective virtual presentations
The arrival of Coronavirus meant a sudden rush to virtual events for many businesses, consultants and individuals and it seems likely that this approach to delivery is going to become part of the business norm. Although the idea of virtual presenting has been met with trepidation by some, others have grasped the idea and fully integrated their approach with the new opportunities that virtual delivery offers.
As with any form of presentation, it’s important that you follow a few basic guidelines to guarantee you get the best out of your virtual presentation. In this article, we’ll highlight what you need to consider and provide the key tips and techniques to help ensure you get the results you desire. Our aim is to support you in engaging with your remote audience so that you deliver outstanding online presentations.
Tip 1 – Turn your camera on
This should go without saying really, but people want to see you when on a video call, particularly if you are presenting to them. A voice with no image is easy to lose interest in and you miss the engagement that eye contact and body language give you. So, brush your hair, get out of your pyjamas (and preferably into some clothes) and put on a happy face.
Tip 2 – Consider camera angles and lighting
When presenting virtually, people only view you through a small window on a screen, so it’s important that you maximise the visual aspects. Make sure that your camera has you completely in frame and that it is your face that people will focus on, rather than anything distracting in the background. That pile of laundry or family portrait will add no value to your delivery!
Lighting can hugely affect how you are perceived by your audience and is a key factor in ensuring you are seen clearly on screen. If the main light of the room is not providing you with enough brightness, try using a portable lamp to enhance things. It’s usually best to have your main source of light coming from in front of you and any secondary lighting coming from behind or to the side. Whatever approach you take, try and keep the actual light source out of range of the camera, as this will cause screen glare.
You should experiment with your lighting set up before you attempt a virtual presentation, so you can get it just right. If you are doing a lot of presenting, it’s worth investing in a semi-professional light source, which can be very affordable these days.
Tip 3 – Don’t forget your sound
This is one of the most overlooked elements of virtual presenting and is arguably the most important. It’s absolutely critical that you get your sound right to ensure people can not only hear you, but that they are not distracted by other noises around you.
Firstly, find the microphone settings for your pc or device and make sure they are set at a level that is audible, but without distortion. If you are using the microphone from your device this is usually simple and can be found in your settings. If you have an external microphone, you can usually adjust the same settings, but might need to consider the specific microphone functions too. Whatever your setup, practice to ensure everything works as it should.
Environmental noises throw up another problem and trying to find a completely silent room can prove difficult. You can help yourself by considering where your microphone is positioned in the first place, as most will focus on direct input first. Then consider other aspects such as closing doors, windows or even moving into a more suitable room. If there are other people around, remind them of what you are doing and ask them to be considerate. Turn off phones and devices that might ping, bleep and ring, causing distraction.
It’s worth remembering that everyone is human though and where there are interruptions, if you explain them, your audience will usually be accommodating.
Tip 4 – Prepare your content
As with a face-to-face presentation, you will want to prepare what you are going to say. One of the benefits of virtual presenting is that it is easier to hide notes from the audience, which can help make your presentation come across as spontaneous and relaxed. However, it can be tempting to write down lots of information in your notes, which can have the reverse effect, meaning your spontaneous presentation becomes a monotonous monologue.
The same general rules of presenting apply, and you should reduce your content to the key points that you must get across. It’s useful to use bullet points for notes, which act as prompts for a message that you deliver from thought, which will appear more natural.
Tip 5 – Prepare your content…again!
Make sure you have drilled down to the main information that you absolutely have to get across during your video call. Nobody wants to sit through a long video presentation and fatigue can set in quickly. So, it’s imperative that you are delivering only the key message. If there is a lot of information that absolutely must be provided, consider sending this as a document after the presentation, so you deliver the main points and people can then review the detail in their own time. Follow the mantra, ‘if you’re reading to me, I can read it myself’.
Tip 6 – Yep, you’re still preparing content!
Most video conferencing facilities can show presentations in the form of PowerPoint slides or similar. While this a useful function and can add some much needed alternative delivery methods, you should use the option sparingly.
Just as people will not want to sit and listen to a presenter reading information out to them; showing slide after slide will quickly turn your audience off. The added problem with this is that you’ll likely not even know that they have become disengaged and as you merrily proceed through your twentieth slide, they’ve become more entertained by their cat.
As with your notes, find the content that you MUST show them and use only that.
It’s also worth remembering why you’re showing a slide. Usually, this is to give information than can’t be provided by speech, so don’t have bullet lines of text, use an image and talk them through it.
Tip 7 – Mix it up a bit!
Listening to one person present directly to a camera for too long can become dull for anyone. It’s important that you engage with your audience and include interaction to ensure they are invested in what you are saying. Ask them a question, invite discussion, brainstorm an idea, or ask them to pitch in with their own thoughts.
Including your audience is a simple procedure, but by allowing your group to get involved, you remove the risk of becoming a ‘talking head’ that people can easily switch off from. By including everyone in the discussion, you will gain instant buy-in and people will feel like they are part of the problem solving process.
Tip 8 – Consider the audience as one
It’s easy to get confused with language when you are delivering to a group online, knowing that they are usually sat on their own, but you are presenting to them as a group.
We find it helps to talk as if you are speaking to one person, so you would use the word ‘you’ as opposed ‘you all’ or any other variation. This helps with engagement, where each member of the audience feels like you are talking directly to them and will respond accordingly. The added benefit is that it can reduce your nerves, so you visualise one person and focus on that.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should avoid the group and you should try and direct questions and conversations by using names at appropriate times too.
Tip 9 – Deliver with passion
People on a video call take energy from the rest of the audience and if you’re leading the presentation, they will set their energy levels based on your approach. This means being enthusiastic and positive throughout, but most importantly, at the start, as it sets the mood for the entire session.
Tip 10 – Practice, practice, practice
As with anything, the more you practice, the better you get. If you have a friend you can video call that doesn’t mind helping, run through everything in real time with them. Otherwise, set your equipment up in front of a mirror and see how you get on.
Remember – Amateurs practice until they get it right. Experts practice until they can’t get it wrong!
Trainer Bubble provide a wide variety of training course materials and e-learning courses that focus on virtual teams. We also provide virtual training materials that you can use to run training for remote workers via video conference facilities.