The Web offers much advice about slide design — use bright colors, beautiful visuals, and more slides with less content on each one. And present from a quiet room, turn off your cell phone, and so on. But there's much lass advice about engaging the audience, competing for their attention, and holding it once you've got it. Here's Part II of a little collection of tips for masterful virtual presentations.
- Unless legalities are at issue, don't read or over-practice
- Reading from scripts might be necessary if legal liability is a risk, as in presentations to press, regulators, or investors. But for other situations, to truly engage your audience, you must sound natural. Reading from a script doesn't work. And over-practicing is just as bad.
- Use a remote mouse
- If you're using slides and standing, leaning over to click the mouse compresses your diaphragm, draining power from your voice. Because using a remote mouse is more like presenting face-to-face, the face-to-face illusion is stronger, which adds to a sense of engagement with the audience, even if you can't see them.
- Some virtual presenters have their assistants operate the mouse, prompting them with pauses, glances, or head nods. In virtual presentations, if the audience can't see the assistant or doesn't know about the assistant's role, these signals can seem awkward.
- Use avatars
- If you're presenting in an empty room, post images on the wall to represent the audience. If you know them personally, use actual photos. If you don't know them, use photos of an audience of similar size. This ruse actually fools your brain. You'll feel more like you're speaking to a live audience, and that comes across in your voice and manner.
- For video, get coached
- Few of us have Few of us have natural video
presence. Find a coach who
knows how to dish
tough love.natural video presence. Most of us can benefit from coaching. Find a coach who knows how to dish tough love.
- Be aware of virtual presentation software issues
- Good slide design for virtual presentations skirts the limitations of some virtual presentation software, which doesn't always fully support presentation apps. Two examples: animations and fancy slide transitions. If you need animation, test it in your presentation environment first. Wipe and fade transitions are reliable; many others aren't. And unusual, fancy transitions are distractions. In the virtual environment, we already have enough distractions.
- Use a high-quality mic
- Use a headset or a clip-on microphone for best sound quality. Don't rely on speakerphones or computer microphones. For Q&A, use a headset to avoid the feedback or echoes.
Reading this little piece takes most people 5-15 minutes. How many times were you interrupted? How many times did you interrupt yourself, to make a note about something else, send a message, or make a call? Maybe now you can imagine a little more clearly the distractions your audience members face. First in this series Top Next Issue
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More articles on Effective Meetings:
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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming March 20: Stone-Throwers at Meetings: I
- One class of disruptions in meetings includes the tactics of stone-throwers — people who exploit low-cost tactics to disrupt the meeting and distract all participants so as to obstruct progress. How do they do it, and what can the meeting chair do? Available here and by RSS on March 20.
- And on March 27: Stone-Throwers at Meetings: II
- A stone-thrower in a meeting is someone who is determined to halt forward progress. Motives vary, from embarrassing the Chair to holding the meeting hostage in exchange for advancing an agenda. What can Chairs do about stone-throwers? Available here and by RSS on March 27.
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