Updated: Sep 30, 2020
A different approach
A recent survey by Prezi found that almost half the respondents admitted to doing something other than listening to their co-worker’s presentation during an online meeting - 28% said they used the time to send texts, 27% to write emails and worse still, 17% confessed to having a quick nap!
Delivering a presentation via a conference call or webinar requires a different approach to delivering face-to-face when you can look your audience in the eye. The relationship you have with your audience can seem more distant and a different dynamic comes into play. Building rapport must be done swiftly and it can be harder to depend on personal charisma in the same way as in a face-to-face context.
Here are some suggestions to make sure your online presentation hits the spot.
Create a warm welcome
Your participants will inevitably log in at different times leaving you with some time to fill. Prepare a couple of slides to help you do this. Include housekeeping or ground rules to give participants a clear idea of their role in the meeting and how you would like them to interact with you. Why not also include an ice breaking question for those who arrive early to discuss? It could be as simple as ‘Share a recent success’ or a topic more closely related to the theme of the meeting or webinar. Sparking conversation between participants can help with team dynamics or creating a sense of community on a webinar.
Check audience understanding
Without those all-important visual cues of a face-to-face audience, you cannot see the physical or emotional reactions of your audience and it is far more challenging to know whether they are following your presentation. Build into your presentation effective ways of checking audience understanding at regular intervals such as Q&A or knowledge check slides. And of course, make sure you have a clear summary at the end with actions and follow up as appropriate.
Design engaging content
Remember that when people feel invisible, they are far more likely to multi- task and it is easy to ‘lose’ them. Your slides need to be visually stimulating, memorable and easy to understand: brief reminders to support what you say rather than the main event.
The following tips should help you:
1. Consider how your slides will look to those joining you via mobile or tablet. They may not be able to read detailed text or data, keep text to a minimum to avoid confusion and ensure your presentation is easy to follow.
2. Remember that your audience may experience a time lapse between each slide loading and will need time to digest and absorb what you say – build in pauses to help them with this.
3. Make sure that you keep plenty of white space around your slides to allow for other elements of your virtual meeting room to overlap.
4. Less is not always more when preparing presentation slides for online delivery and best practice suggests you need close to double the sides you might have in a face-to-face environment. If the screen is static for too long while you are talking people are more likely to navigate away and look at something else. Instead, where you might use several images, questions or key points on one slide when presenting in a bricks and mortar room, spread your information over several slides and use animation to keep the screen alive.
5. Use simple images that serve a purpose rather than as decoration. Images which resonate with your audience and represent key concepts are often better for engaging your audience and provoking discussion. Websites like www.unsplash.com offer free downloads which you can use to create more memorable slides.
Keep your audience focused
One of the best ways to keep your audience focused is to include them in your story. Story-telling, according to Nathan Gold a professional public-speaking coach, is the most universal way to capture your audience’s attention. People automatically tune in when you start telling a story because they want to find out what happens next, so try to build your presentation like a story – and where appropriate involve your audience in your story.
Finish on a positive note
If you want your audience to log off feeling they spent their time well and that your presentation was valuable, remember:
1. Leave time for questions. If you set an hour for the presentation, at least 15 minutes should be used for questions and discussion. Manage the session thoughtfully, taking care to include anyone who may not feel comfortable speaking out in a virtual meeting by making sure voice and text chat have equal airtime.
2. End on time. If you have prepared your presentation with clear timings and practised sufficiently you should finish on time. People are busy and so show respect by wrapping at the designated time so they can join their next meeting on time. Make sure that everyone knows that you will be sending a recording and/or materials and how to ask any unanswered questions.
Preparation is crucial for any kind of presentation to be successful but it is even more important when you are unable to observe your attendees’ reactions or look them in the eye. Finding the balance between fast-paced yet clear, visually stimulating but without animation overkill, participative but still informative can be a fine art. Take time to prepare and practise, practise and practise – and you will never look back!
This post was was written by Jackie Black of Digital Business Communication. Jackie has a passion for creating virtual teams and promoting online communication. If you would like more information on Jackie and her business, you can visit her website at www.digitalbusinesscommunication.com.
If you liked this post, please share with you friends and followers. If you are also doing some amazing things with digital technology, why not enter yourself for the Digital Enterprise Top 100 initiative. Entries close on May 3 2019. www.de100.co.uk GOOD LUCK