Giving effective virtual presentations is a skill. And, as with any skill, you can master it with the right tools and practice. Be mindful that what makes a great presentation at in-person events may not necessarily translate to an engaging virtual presentation.
The ABCs of Giving Effective Virtual Presentations
Rule 1: Use slides strategically for an engaging virtual presentation
At offline events, the participants still see you when you have your PowerPoint projected on the screen. Online presentations, on the other hand, either replace the video of you with that of your slides or display a video of you in a small format in the corner of the screen. It makes it more difficult to be present and actively engage your audience. Try to keep the number of slides to a minimum. Use them to show the most important information or help your audience visualize what you are saying at that moment.
Rule 2: Know your virtual presentation platform
No matter how brilliant a speaker you are, it can all go to waste if you do not know how to properly use the online platform that’s hosting the event. A glitch, a delay, an interruption – so many things can happen to disrupt the flow of your presentation. Talk to the event organizer in advance and learn as much as you can about the online presentation platform.
Rule 3: Check your background and AV quality
Your background should not be distracting. Plain clean walls, neatly organized bookshelves, and office spaces are some of the most common backdrops that work well for virtual presentations. You can also use a virtual background. Just make sure you select one in advance.
Rule 4: Eliminate noise and other distractions
Make sure you are alone in the room during your presentation. You don’t want a colleague or a family member captured on-screen as you are talking about the latest findings of your research. It takes the attention of your audience away from what you are saying.
Rule 5: Address your audience and try to engage it
Just like with offline presentations, encourage your audience to submit questions via the live chat function and address their points. Interact with your audience as much as you can during the online presentation. Make the information you present relevant to their needs and field of study and facilitate discussions.
Rule 6: Be on time
Delays in the schedule are frustrating for attendees at in-person events. They are just as frustrating with online events. Plus, in this case, they can simply walk away from their laptop and either return later or sign off completely. Do not risk losing your audience over a delay. Join the event at least 15 minutes before your presentation.
Rule 7: Work with your event organizer
Your conference organizer is a treasure trove of information on giving effective and engaging virtual presentations. They know the audience you will be presenting to inside and out. They are regularly in touch with your audience and understand what type of topics and style of delivery gets them interested. Use this to your advantage.
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