Virtual presentations and meetings are here to stay, so how do you make sure that you are engaging your audience. How do you make sure that your message is remembered and acted upon?
We can’t just take our face-to-face presentations online and expect the same results. The environment is very different, so we have to present differently.
As we look into our webcams, it feels like we are all having to become TV presenters, which is a skill that takes time to craft. Fortunately, with over 25 years’ experience presenting on television, I’m very aware of what it takes to engage with an audience on the other side of a camera.
Here are my 7 top tips on how you can build trust and rapport on camera so you’re more engaging and memorable in your virtual presentations.
- Plan and prepare – Generally, online meetings and virtual presentations need to be shorter, sharper and clearer. It is important to plan your virtual presentations to ensure you get your message across in a concise and understandable way. Make sure you have very clear objectives of what you want to achieve in your virtual presentation and once you have a plan, follow it and stick strictly to the time you have available.
- Look at the camera and check your eye line – During virtual presentations and online meetings we tend to look at, and talk to, the people we see on our screens, but it is much better if you look straight in to the camera. People will then feel you are talking straight to them, and are more likely to listen to what you’re saying. Also make sure your webcam is at eye level, so that you’re not looking up or down at your audience. You may want to add a sticker next to your webcam to remind you to ‘look here’.
- Listen to your sound – The most important part of your virtual presentation or online meeting is to make sure you can be heard. If people can’t hear you clearly, they’ll disengage with your content and you’ll be wasting your time. Check your sound and consider using an external microphone, rather than the internal one on your device; it will definitely be worth the investment. When talking during a virtual presentation or online meeting think about how you are using your voice. Generally slow down and use lots of pauses to give you and your audience plenty of time to think. Also consider warming it up beforehand, and definitely have a glass of room temperature water on hand to keep you hydrated.
- Can you be seen – People connect with us visually as much as they do with our voices, so check your lighting. Make sure you have a light source in front of you and not behind you or from one side. People want to see your face, so looking like you’re in a witness protection programme isn’t a recommended look for a virtual presentation.
- Check your background – Make sure that nothing behind you is a distraction, such as washing up, a messy office or a virtual background gone wrong; as people will be thinking and focussing on that rather than your virtual presentation. Have a simple clean background without too many distractions. I caution against virtual backgrounds because the edges are rarely clear and defined, and this just takes the focus away from you and your content.
- Body language – Adopting positive body language will help with your confidence and make you more engaging. As people can only see your head and shoulders, you need to make sure you are being expressive, even something as simple as smiling can make a huge difference during a virtual presentation. This will help you become more interesting to your audience and it will help energise your voice and performance. Also, although they are usually out of sight, using your hands can really help you become more animated and help you feel comfortable if you are someone who likes to move around whilst presenting.
- Introduce variety – Finally, to avoid zoom fatigue and people becoming bored, try introducing as much variety in your virtual presentation as you can. I have a 10-minute rule that says that no one should talk for more than ten minutes without involving their audience in some way. It could be as simple as asking questions or you could use interactive tools like polls, whiteboards and breakout rooms. Also try and give people a comfort break for 10 minutes every hour, where they can grab a drink or answer urgent emails. If you are using PowerPoint think about stopping sharing your screen for a while, and definitely don’t just read from your slides.
Remember being engaging during an online meeting or virtual presentation will really help you get your message across in an effective and memorable way, while ensuring your audience connects with your content. It’s not easy to keep your audiences’ focus during a virtual presentation, but adopting these tips will definitely give you a distinct advantage.
If nothing else just remember to smile and look at the camera!
Alastair Greener, Training Consultant, Tack TMI UK
Tack TMI’s ‘Presenting with impact virtually’ training course is packed with practical tips and advice to help you build confidence and deliver more impactful and engaging virtual presentations. Contact us today for further information.
News & Insights
Successful business leaders are able to draw on their communication skills to improve relationships with both customers and key stakeholders. So, how can you improve your communication skills and become a more successful leader?Read more >