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:
- Games for Meetings: IV
- We spend a lot of time and emotional energy in meetings, much of it engaged in any of dozens of ritualized
games. Here's Part IV of a little catalog of some of our favorites, and what we could do about them.
- Take Any Seat: I
- When you attend a meeting, how do you choose your seat? Whether you chair or not, where you sit helps
to determine your effectiveness and your stature during the meeting. Here are some tips for choosing
your seat strategically.
- Remote Facilitation in Synchronous Contexts: I
- Whoever facilitates your distributed meetings — whether a dedicated facilitator or the meeting
chair — will discover quickly that remote facilitation presents special problems. Here's a little
catalog of those problems, and some suggestions for addressing them.
- The Perils of Piecemeal Analysis: Content
- A team member proposes a solution to the latest show-stopping near-disaster. After extended discussion,
the team decides whether or not to pursue the idea. It's a costly approach, because too often it leads
us to reject unnecessarily some perfectly sound proposals, and to accept others we shouldn't have.
- How to Waste Time in Meetings
- Nearly everyone hates meetings. The main complaint: they're mostly a waste of time. The main cause:
us. Here's a field manual for people who want to waste even more time.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming July 8: Multi-Expert Consensus
- Some working groups consist of experts from many fields. When they must reach a decision by consensus, members have several options. Defining those options in advance can help the group reach a decision with all its relationships intact. Available here and by RSS on July 8.
- And on July 15: Disjoint Concept Vocabularies
- In disputes or in problem solving sessions, when we can't seem to come to agreement, we often attribute the difficulty to miscommunication, histories of disagreements, hidden agendas, or "personality clashes." Sometimes the cause is much simpler. Sometimes the concept vocabularies of the parties don't overlap. Available here and by RSS on July 15.
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