Going virtual? Make your present-from-home experience memorable for you and your audience! [Wednesdays: “Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”]
These are some of the video conferencing apps various companies use to host webinars or virtually meet with employees.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, speakers and other business leaders have been making the most out of these apps to conduct meetings, presentations, and conferences online.
As a speaker, how can you make sure you’re making an impact on your audience even if you’re just presenting through a computer screen?
TED’s curator, Chris Anderson has an answer to that.
According to Anderson, the Internet has opened ways for speakers to communicate to “countless thousands of people” live or via video.
For example, one of the more popular series of TED talks in 2013 by Swedish statistician Hans Rosling garnered 20 million views through the years, which is testament to how effective the speaker is.
Even better, Rosling was so effective that you wouldn’t even know he wasn’t speaking to anyone at all! The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) only filmed his talk at an empty warehouse.
See? Just because you’re presenting from a screen, that doesn’t mean you won’t make an impact as great as when you’re presenting on stage.
In fact, you also have to take your virtual presentations seriously because once it’s up online, chances are your talk won’t only be viewed by a specific group of people but will also be seen by other audiences in different parts of the world.
So… what can you do to make sure your online presentations run smoothly?
Get the lighting right.
As a speaker, it’s important that your audience sees you well.
This means you have to make sure you have a good front light. If your back is facing a window, close the curtains or blinds so you won’t appear as a silhouette on your computer screen.
If your place doesn’t have a good source of natural light, consider investing in supplemental lighting such as ring light and other artificial sources of light to enhance your image in virtual presentations.
Choose an appropriate background.
Your online presentation background is as important as your lighting.
Make sure you use a background that enhances your professional image as a speaker and is aligned with your message.
Avoid cluttered backgrounds such as unorganized stuff, piles of clothes, or scattered paperwork as these might distract your audience. This also includes irrelevant background noises such as dogs barking, babies crying, etc.
If your place is normally noisy, you may consider making your work area soundproof or if not, go to a particular room where you can close the door and focus on your presentation.
Another important note: Make sure you’re wearing clothes that are appropriate for your talk even if you’re just presenting online. You wouldn’t want to have a nice background yet you yourself aren’t looking ready for the occasion.
Accustom yourself to technology.
One factor that kills the essence of a virtual presentation is a speaker who fumbles with technology.
Keep in mind that online presentations are still important presentations so you have to know how to make your technological resources work properly.
Conduct a test run at least 30 minutes before your actual talk so you can get accustomed with screen sharing, your presentation slides (if you have any), and other buttons you need to press in the video conferencing platform you’re using.
It is also better to have a moderator assist you with the technical stuff so you can focus on delivering your message to your listeners.
Having these tests will help make sure that you and your team are all set before your audience starts entering the webinar or conference link.
Maintain eye contact.
In virtual presentations, it can be quite hard to maintain eye contact because there’s no live audience… and no eyes to look into.
However, eye contact is an essential part of a presentation even if it’s done online. One way to effectively do this?
Look straight into your camera, not on your computer screen!
Think of the camera lens as your audience’s eyes. While getting used to this may take some practice, doing so will make your audience feel as if you’re looking at them even when you’re miles apart.
Another thing to take note of is:
Put the camera at eye level.
Why is this necessary?
If your camera is placed too low, you run the risk of having an unflattering angle. Besides, it’s also hard to speak with your head bowed low.
On the other hand, if your camera is placed too high, you might find it difficult to maintain eye contact and you’ll find your gaze dropping as you speak.
Those are the reasons why you have to keep your camera at eye level. Doing so will also help you maintain proper posture throughout your online presentation.
Be mindful of your pacing.
Without live and real-time visual feedback cues from the audience, getting your pacing right can be a bit challenging.
This is because you’re not sure if your listeners are able to catch up with your presentation or if they feel like you’re discussing things too fast.
One solution to this?
If you are a fast talker in real life, practice slowing down a bit in your presentation so your audience can follow.
On the contrary, if you’re a slow talker, try speeding up a bit so listeners won’t feel sleepy listening to your talk.
Conduct sound checks before your actual online presentation.
While your audience may be forgiving when your video is less than perfect, if they can’t clearly hear you, chances are they will lose interest in listening to your talk.
If you don’t want that to happen, make sure you practice with someone on the other end of the presentation platform.
Just like in item 3, it’s also important to conduct sound checks before your actual talk to know whether or not your voice comes out clearly.
Sometimes, it would be better to use external microphones as they are designed for online speaking engagements.
You also have to take note that every video conferencing app is different, so it’s best to make sure your sound quality is excellent EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Engage with participants.
Just like in an onsite presentation, craft your talk in a manner that provides room for audience engagement.
Before proceeding with your presentation proper, it would be good to encourage your listeners to use the chats, polls, or raised hand features if they want to say or ask something.
On your part, try not to speak for more than 20 minutes without some sort of audience engagement in between.
Ask your listeners if they have any questions regarding your previous discussion…
… do a quick icebreaker to give them enough time to process information…
… or have a roll call of your participants and invite them to turn on their mics or cameras.
After that quick break, you may proceed with the next part of your presentation. That way, you can be assured that you have your audience’s full attention.
As stated by Chris Anderson:
“In a world where everyone has access to video cameras and editing tools, there will be an unstoppable trend of significant talks delivered directly to the Internet.”
However, this setup won’t replace the power of people coming together physically to attend and listen to a speech or presentation.
Anderson believes there are a lot of benefits of real, in-the-moment human interaction.
… but don’t let this hinder you from making an impactful presentation online―virtual talks are also a good platform for experimentation, innovation, and learning.
Apply the tips above in your next webinar or online conference and open yourself to a lot of opportunities to enhance the art of public speaking!
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Wednesdays: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”
In a meeting with one person
…a boardroom with five people
…or a huge venue with hundreds of people
—whatever the situation or setting, it’s very important to learn and eventually master the art of public speaking.
No matter what, you always need to effectively get your message across.
What good is a presentation with awesome content if you don’t deliver it properly?
Every Wednesday, we publish different tips, insights, and secrets on how you can improve your presentation skills to captivate your audience and lead interesting discussions.
The need for great presentation skills applies EVERYWHERE.
(Small meetings with your team, big meetings with your boss, an important marketing pitch, speaking engagements for events with a big audience, etc.)
Learning these skills is not just for the corporate world. Being in other industries such as the Arts, Information Technology, Medicine, and Education while knowing how to present well will definitely give you an edge.
Have that advantage.
Hope you’ve found this week’s public speaking tip interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s Speak on the Shoulders of Giants!
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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