Three Tips To Help You Deliver An Engaging Virtual Presentation
The global pandemic has caused significant disruption in almost every area of our lives. From a dramatic shift to remote working, a sharp increase in upskilling and reskilling activities (predominantly due to a need to innovate and change in response to workplace evolution), and a renewed importance on cyber security, the corporate workplace has never changed so much in such a short period of time. One change that has impacted not only the corporate world, but anyone impacted by the coronavirus, is the increased reliance on video as a means of communicating and delivery of a virtual presentation.
Today, regardless of role, sector, or industry, there is no option to present in-person and thus, we must understand how to communicate and deliver effective presentations in a virtual environment.
This article describes three tips which will help you deliver an engaging presentation. It goes beyond the obvious and speaks to more subtle aspects of your presentation setting and style you may have ignored up to now.
These three tips are:
- Make use of a static background and an engaging foreground
- Have a structure, but not a script
- Be yourself
This article was inspired by an Intuition webinar delivered by Brian Patman, a virtual presentation subject matter expert, entitled:
‘How To Create A Real Connection With A Virtual Audience’
If you would like to watch the webinar in full, please click this link.
1 Use a natural background and engaging foreground
In pre-pandemic times, the setting of a presentation was often a simple meeting room or conference room, fitted with corporate décor and a large presentation screen. What is important to note here is the lack of control given to the presenter. They simply worked with what they were given. Today, as we all continue to work from home to stave off the spread of the virus, presenters are in control of their own virtual presentation setting.
There are quite a few options when it comes to choosing a setting when presenting virtually. You might opt for as plain a background as possible – perhaps a white wall, or use a virtual background, perhaps of an office setting, or even just blur out your work setting completely.
The issue with these backgrounds is they can be distracting for your audience – from the clinical feel of a completely plain background to technical glitches that can occur as a result of a virtual one, it is best to go with a more natural option.
Brian Patman recommends the setting you usually work in, assuming it is not distracting or unprofessional. This could be as simple as your dining room wall at home or the setting of your home office. As long as it is natural and not overly busy, it will be a good fit for your presentation.
When it comes to the foreground of your shot, use your hands to add energy to your presentation, gesticulating your way through the main points, engaging the audience as you do so.
2 Have a structure, but not a script
Regardless of experience, many of those tasked with delivering a presentation will be fraught with anxiety and use a script as a means of overcoming these nerves.
By knowing exactly what you are going to say and knowing exactly when you are going to say it during your virtual presentation, you reduce the chance of an embarrassing slip of the tongue, a seemingly irrelevant digression, or an awkward silence when you forget what you were planning on covering next.
While you should undoubtedly use a structure, reading from a script takes the human connection out of the presentation. Your audience wants to feel like they are gaining access to your internal narrative on whatever topic your presentation covers, not listening to you read a word document off your screen.
A happy medium between a carefully planned script and an off-the-cuff rambling is to create high level points for each section of your presentation and then speak to these points, but in a natural, conversational, and engaging way. Backing this high-level structure up with a strong knowledge of your topic area makes for a presentation capable of captivating any audience.
3 Be yourself
Your professional persona might be drastically different to who you are naturally as a person, and that is perfectly normal. In your job, you are often expected to act in a certain way but when it comes to connecting with your audience during your virtual presentation, this may play against your favor.
When presenting, you may want to cover your personality up completely as you feel it is unprofessional to let your audience see your human side however, when it comes to delivering an engaging presentation, it is important to be yourself and expose certain aspects of your character.
The thought of laying your personality bare to your work colleagues, clients, or another group seems daunting, but that is not what this tip is suggesting.
Rather, let pockets of your personality shine and show the audience glimpses of who you are with your friends and family. Humans connect and listen to other humans. They do not connect with lifeless robots spitting out information.
This attempt at connection could take the form of an occasional joke, maybe a story relating to your personal life, or even a simple introduction giving your audience an insight into who you are both at work and at home.
In conclusion, the world of work has been turned upside down along with many of our day-to-day methods of communicating. One medium that has risen to the challenge and is now taking a stronghold on our professional (and personal) lives, especially in the world of delivering presentations, is video. You can use some simple techniques to deliver a virtual presentation capable of connecting and captivating your audience, despite their remote location.
These tips are:
- Use a natural background and engaging foreground
- Have a structure, not a script
- Be yourself
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