In an ever-growing digital workplace, virtual presentations are becoming more common. “The good news is that despite the ever-changing medium of presentation delivery, there are constant fundamentals that will never change.”[i] Similar to a live presentation, virtual presentations need to be carefully planned, and small mistakes can make or break their success. However, with virtual presentations, you can’t see your audience, which adds another layer of challenges. Therefore, there are specific things that you should and should not do to deliver a seamless presentation.
- Do display a dynamic presentation. With live presentations, you can use facial expressions, movements, and eye contact to keep your audience engaged. But, virtually, you have to rely on your presentation. “Content is king in the virtual landscape.”[ii] Consider how you use and display your content and be sure it’s exciting and attention seeking. Some ways to consider would be, images, videos, and links. Add more bold visuals than bulleted content. Be creative.
- Do use multiple engagement technologies. Engaging your audience virtually can sometimes be a challenge. Incorporating different technologies into your presentation can certainly help hold their attention. Some ideas to include could be, Q&As, Polls, and surveys, to keep your audience more involved in the presentation.[iii]
- Do come prepared. Even though your audience cannot see you, they will still know if you are unprepared. Make sure to test your presentation to make sure all transitions, links, and videos work correctly. Run through your script. Words, such as “like,” and “so,” and fillers, such as “um,” and “ah,” “can damage your credibility and make it hard for people to listen to you, so practice replacing them with a new habit – a healthy pause.”[iv] Test your microphone. Is your voice clear, and is the volume loud enough? Sometimes, what might seem like a small mishap in a live presentation, can be even more noticeable and distracting in a virtual presentation.
- Do eliminate distractions. Headphones usually pick up background noise very easily. Set up your space in a quiet area. Make sure to avoid rustling of papers, or any notification noises. To best prepare, set everything up with plenty of time to figure out if distractions can occur. Adjust as needed.
- Do dress the part. Whether you will appear on the screen or not, dress professionally. The way you dress both conveys confidence and can make you feel more confident.
- Don’t make your presentation too long. “Information overload and endless slides are a sure way to lose your audience.”[v] This is the truth whether you’re presenting virtually or in person. Have a clear focus for your presentation and avoid going off topic adding unnecessary time.
- Don’t engage to just engage. Ensure you are asking relevant, appropriate questions, or incorporating valuable activities. If there are no questions to ask that make sense in your topic, try a different form of engagement. Maybe an open floor chat would be better about a specific topic in the presentation. Make sure, however, you decide to engage your audience, that it adds value to the presentation.
- Don’t speak too fast or too slow. Have a conversation with your audience. Speaking too quickly or too slowly, you will lose your listeners. Allow them to process information once it’s given to them and then move on to your next topic or point.
Paying close attention to these tips will certainly assist in the planning and delivery of your virtual presentation. However, it takes time to have a strong virtual presence. “To present virtually on par with the best, most presenters require a process of experienced coaching, structured practice, and developmental feedback to master this surprisingly challenging new medium.”[vi] Now is not the time to shy away from this form of presenting. It’s convenient and cost-effective and becoming the preferred choice for many organizations.