More and more presentations are delivered online versus in person. Whether you attend a webcast, virtual meeting, or online training, you are probably attending or more likely, delivering, a presentation online. In a blog a few months ago I offered some tips for virtual training sessions. All of that applies to almost any online presentation, but here are a couple of additional tips to help you. (Note: I’m assuming that you are not using video. Although I usually recommend it, I’ve heard some people complain that it is sometimes distracting or they don’t have access to video during their online presentation. In this case, let’s assume participants can only hear your voice and see the presentation).
- Know your audience. I’ve made this mistake before. Sixty minutes into a 90 minute presentation and I realize that the audience is much more experienced and wants much more detailed information than the simplified presentation I designed for novices. Because you can’t see the expressions on their faces, you may not know if you are hitting the mark until it is too late. Do your homework and know your audience – their experience level, the number of participants, and their needs. Talk to some of the participants if you can beforehand. This will help you design appropriate content.
- Maximum images, minimum text. Most people are visual. Use pictures or images to get your message across. Keep the text to a bare minimum. The rest you can keep in your speaker notes. If you were standing in front of a group of people you could talk through lots of text, but online this is likely to bore people and cause them to lose focus. This may cause you to create more slides, but that’s okay.
- Keep pace but don’t race. When speaking online, people have a tendency to rush through the content. Dead airtime seems to scare presenters and they fill the void with more words. Relax. Take a breath. Rehearse the presentation and know how much time it should take you to get through it. Keep your eye on the clock and if you notice yourself getting way ahead, pause for a second and slow your pace.
- Use gestures. Why use gestures when no one can see your body language? When you use a little body movement and hand gestures you will naturally change the inflection in your voice. No one wants to be monotone (think Ben Stein’s character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). Gestures will help raise your excitement level and that may wear off on your audience.
- Boost Q&A. Almost every presentation allows for some questions at the end. Nothing is worse than allotting some time for discussion and all you hear is silence. Some participants feel awkward asking questions when they don’t know or can’t see the other attendees. Help get this going by preparing 4-5 questions of your own that you think participants would likely ask to help get the discussion going. If you’ve done your homework from tip #1 this should be easy to do.
Have a tip of your own? Let me know. Good luck presenting!