How To Ace Your Virtual Presentation: Our Top 10 Tips
What Is A Virtual Presentation?
A virtual presentation is a demonstration, lecture, informational session or speech meant to inform, persuade, motivate, build goodwill, or present a new concept through a digital medium such as a web video conferencing software where the host, presenter and attendees are convening remotely.
Virtual presentations have gained popularity over the last decade due to the advancement of video web conferencing software such as Zoom and Google Meets as well as the convenience virtual presentations have afforded us. Virtual presentations have also helped break down challenges experienced in different fields of work and study.
How Are Virtual Presentations Different From Regular Presentations?
On the surface, it might seem that the only difference between a virtual, online presentation and an in-person presentation is the method in which it is delivered.
In reality, however, the two require different approaches to keep viewers engaged in the presentation. Here are two major differences between virtual and regular, in-person presentations you should consider when deciding if your next meeting should be held online or in-person:
Audience Members – Is The Audience Engaged?
Participants viewing a virtual presentation are far more easily distracted than a typical meeting participant would be when viewing the content in the same room as the presenter. With in-office presentations, participants are typically in the conference room, which is a controlled environment with fewer distractions competing for attention, making it easier to pay attention to what the speaker is saying.
Self-surveillance is also less prominent in a virtual meeting rather than in a physical meeting. When you’re in a room with other individuals, you subconsciously start to self-regulate your behaviour thinking others are watching you. For example, you will not find yourself looking at your phone and you will maintain eye contact with the speaker.
With virtual presentations, on the other hand, the attendee has the ability to turn off their video and microphone allowing them to easily switch their attention to other distractions like their phone or carry on side conversation without anyone else ever knowing.
Scalability & Flexibility
Unlike an in-person presentation where the host, presenter and attendees are physically present at a singular location in the real world, virtual presentations allow for greater scalability which is not bound by the physical environment they are held in.
An in-person meeting would have you bound to the limitations of the room or venue space and the flexibility of other people to attend the presentation at a singular location. On the other hand, a virtual presentation allows you to present to more people at the same time, aided by group video conferencing services, which allows for hundreds of participants per meeting. With a virtual presentation, you are not restricted to the physical capacity of a venue space or the challenge of traveling distances for people.
Why Are Virtual Presentations Important?
Virtual presentations are important because they help break down barriers when it comes to bridging time zones, connecting remote regions and keeping one another safe as we have recently seen with COVID-19.
Remote teams working in space or up north in remote regions are able to share their research and findings far more quickly and easily by being able to connect with other researchers around the world and discuss in real-time. Although it may seem like this could have been done with phone calls, fax machines or even videos, virtual presentations allow for a consolidated, streamlined process that allows for spur-of-the-moment conversations with multiple people in a live presentation format.
As globalization continues to impact our everyday lives, virtual presentations are another way we are connecting with one another around the world. With remote work on the rise, learning about virtual presentations and the nuances that come with them is an important skill to know as more companies, government agencies and cultures adopt virtual presentations and communication.
With any other project you decide to take on, to make it excellent, knowing where to start and setting up a good foundation is key to its success. The same applies to virtual presentations. If you don’t have a solid plan in place or create a solid foundation on which to build your presentation upon, your presentation won’t be as successful as it could be.
We’ve put together our top four virtual presentation tips to bring your virtual presentation to life.
1) Start with your content
First, you need to start with your content and understand what message you want to share with your audience. You need to fully understand the topic and content at hand so you’re confident in your delivery.
Start by asking yourself some questions.
- What are the key takeaways you want everyone to leave with?
- What is the purpose of sharing this content?
- Is this content relevant?
- What questions might the audience have and do I know the answer to those questions
It might help to create a story around your topic with a beginning, middle and end to help guide you and your audience through the content.
2) Think about your slides
You want your slides to be engaging. Without engaging slides, you’ll lose the interest of your audience. Remember to keep slides colorful. Use an image or a graphic to help tell the story of the slide. Don’t go overboard though. Keep it simple and follow a 1:1 ratio. One image per slide.
3) Focus on your audience
Throughout your career, you’ll be presenting material to different audiences. Not every audience is the same. For younger audiences, you’ll want to use more visuals and use more vocal energy to keep the audience’s attention. For an older demographic, you might want to keep things more succinct, to the point and talk at a slower pace. It’s one thing to know the content and create a great presentation but it’s useless if you’re not sympathetic to how your audience gathers information.
4) Be dynamic
Keep the attention of your audience by being dynamic and not static. If you’re able to present with a webcam, then do so. Take advantage of as many tools and features as the video web conferencing software you decide to use will allow. For example, some software allows you to have the audience interact with your screen and slides. Depending on the content you’re delivering, you can even have the attendees break out into smaller groups. This will keep the presentation lively, unique and encourage audience participation. Ultimately, you want to keep it fun.
Before you deliver your next virtual presentation, be sure to review these ten tips to help you prepare.
1) Proper Webcam & Lighting
First, check your webcam and lighting. Before you present, turn on your webcam and make sure you’re visible. Even if you think you have sufficient lighting, it’s always best to double-check as some webcams aren’t calibrated correctly. If you’re using a ring light, it may appear like a harsh, blue light is being used. Use this time to also check your microphone and audio source. You’ll be able to check the sound quality and ensure the audio pick-up levels are correct.
2) Familiarize Yourself With The Technology
If you’re not used to presenting virtually or you’re using new software, try practicing your delivery with the technology you’ll be using. If you run into any technical issues, you’ll be able to resolve them beforehand.
3) Check Internet Connection
This is absolutely critical. A virtual meeting or presentation is only possible with an internet connection. If you don’t have a proper internet connection, you won’t have a presentation. It’s also a good idea to practice presenting with all the technology you’ll be using as more software usage requires more internet bandwidth. If you plan on presenting with your webcam on, test your internet connection with your webcam on so you have an accurate measurement.
4) Talk To The Camera
When you’re delivering your message, make sure you keep eye contact with the camera. This will allow the audience who is watching your presentation to feel more connected and engaged. If you’re simply reading from a screen, it makes the presentation feel inauthentic, unpolished and it makes it seem like you’re not confident in the content you’re presenting.
5) Present As You Would In-Person
If you have the ability to stand up while presenting, you should. Standing is beneficial because it allows your airways to be fully open. While you’re sitting, your core is typically tight and you might find yourself hunched over. This will restrict your diaphragm from moving to its fullest potential. If you stand, you’ll have a much clearer voice when speaking.
6) Use Body Language
Keep your presentation dynamic. Your body is a communication tool. Use hand motions to emphasize key points. Use facial expressions to deliver emotion. The combination of body language with your words will help connect the audience to your message on a much deeper level.
7) Engage Your Audience Members
Keep your audience engaged and allow them to participate. Some ways you can keep your audience engaged is by using polling software to ask the audience questions. You can host a Q&A at the end of your meeting, or you can have them play games like Kahoot! to win prizes.
8) Have A Moderator
Having a moderator helps you stay focused. A moderator can help monitor the chat and gauge audience engagement. If you’re conducting a Q&A session, depending on the software you use, a moderator can help filter questions that might be inappropriate. They will screen questions before they are made public to the rest of your audience.
9) Use Evaluation Tools & Learn
This is a tip not many presenters take advantage of that will help you stand out amongst the rest and will make your next presentation even better. At the end of your presentation, consider sending out a poll. Ask for feedback from your audience to see how well you did. You might want to ask their opinion on the visuals, see what information they retained or see how you presented as a whole. If done correctly, for your next virtual presentation, you’ll know if you need to slow down if you’re a fast talker or if you need to add more visuals.
10) Be Yourself
The most important tip of them all is to be yourself. When you’re yourself, you’ll have fun. Presenting and everything will appear natural.