As if giving a presentation isn’t hard enough - trying to capture your audience's attention through a screen can be even more challenging. As hybrid and virtual events take center stage this year, it’s time to sharpen your virtual presentation skills and understand that we’re not just trying to engage the people in front of us anymore. At a virtual event or conference, we could be speaking to thousands of people signing in from their laptops or phones. Hence, designing an organized and engaging virtual presentation is key to success.
Engagement is the magic word here. While you might be able to conveniently log on to a virtual event, keeping the audience engaged is the tricky part. There are so many more distractions for the virtual attendee. As the presenter, it's your job to create a talk that can really capture your audience while keeping in mind that they are not physically in front of you.
With shorter attention spans and distractions everywhere, your content needs to be interesting and tailored to your audience to make them want to stay engaged throughout the presentation. Here are 7 important tips for you to keep in mind to give a successful virtual presentation.
You need to be prepared for your talk. This means taking the time to rehearse out loud. When you practice your talk beforehand, you can keep track of the pace and allow you to make improvements. Once you have incorporated changes and seen where you fumble, you will feel extremely ready right before you go live. Rehearsing your content will allow for fewer mistakes will help you gather your thoughts. A great idea could be to record yourself on camera and see what you can improve on. You may come across things like your tone that might need to be improved for your presentation.
Just like you need to be prepared with your presentation, it’s imperative that you test all your visuals, audio and any other tools you will be using. Do a sound check and also check to see that your video is working and that you can share your screen with others. Practice everything you need to do prior to your presentation you know where all the tools and buttons are. Get comfortable with the platform you are using to avoid any confusion and delays. You can ask a friend or family member to help you with this. Have them log on to make sure everything is working properly as you present. This also includes lighting, clarity and helping you get used to performing in front of a camera.
People have short attention spans. It's especially hard to pay attention if the topic feels like it’s getting drawn out. Make sure you are to the point and deliver your speech with animated expressions and a confident tone. Your content should be straight to the point without tangents and try to include more visuals if possible. Overall, try to keep your presentation around 20 minutes or under before you start loosing people in the audience.
In order to keep your audience listening, get them involved! Besides letting your audience know about the Q&A session after the presentation, have interactive tools such as live polls and quizzes during your presentation. You can even get some members to participate during the presentation. Another helpful tip would be to offer small prizes for participants who get the questions right - this will definitely wake up any members who are starting to nod off.
Try to stand up when you give your presentation. Not only will this get you in the mood but you will be at the camera’s level which will help you keep eye contact with the audience. When you’re standing up your energy will be passed on to your audience and they will want to be as engaged as you are during the presentation. If you do have to sit down, make sure you maintain a good posture and avoid slouching - which will immediately disengage your audience.
If you’re opting not to use a branded background, make sure your area is free of clutter and distraction. You are trying to draw your audience to your content, not to your friend making coffee in the background. This is extremely important to avoid your audience from getting distracted! Clean up your desk from any clutter and have a neat and clean background with simple images or backdrops if possible.
7. Have fun!
And finally....enjoy yourself. One of the most important piece of advice is to be yourself and have fun! This presentation is for you as much as it is for the audience. You should feel proud that you are being seen as a leader. Make sure you keep it real when you are speaking to your audience and just be you.
You are going to kill it at your presentation! Remember, your audience is here to listen to your content. They have signed up because of the value you bring to them, so make sure you honor their time and do your due diligence to give them the insights they are looking for. This is your opportunity to continue to establish yourself as an industry leader. Keep this in mind to engage your attendees and keep your confidence when you deliver.