As our workforce increasing becomes global and virtual, the need to master the art of virtual presentations has increased. Regardless of which provider you use (e.g., GoToMeeting and WebEx) the issue is clear: is your audience getting the message you intend, so they will take the desired action.
In the early days of PowerPoint, many people thought that they could simply transfer typing skills to produce effective presentations. The results produced overly text-based images, and the common experience of “Death by PowerPoint”.
Similarly, material designed for face-to-face presentations may not work using virtual media, and must be adapted. Remember that in virtual presentations: The audience is not captive, as they might be in a group setting where speaker and audience share eye-contact. At their desks, participants often are multi-tasking. Reduced attention makes it more difficult to “fill in the blanks” when things aren’t 100% clear. Therefore:
- Greater attention needs to go into the structure
- Outline the material so the audience sees the road map
- Summarize long sections
- Provide concrete conclusions and action steps
- Be succinct â€“ attention spans are brief. No section should go longer than the time between TV commercials (5-7 minutes)
- Use text sparingly. No-one wants to read 1000 words. Use active and engaging text (e.g., sales skyrocketed (not increased) No-one wants to sit and read a slide full of text
- Use powerful graphics to grab attention and describe complex ideas
- Integrate logic and emotions into a compelling argument. In a close argument, people make decisions because of their emotional reaction – Do they trust the speaker? Will the benefits of action outweigh the risks? – and then they use the logic to rationalize the decision.
- Involve the audience â€“ pose questions, even rhetorical ones, thereby encouraging the person to stay curious
- Enunciate and vary your tempo and pace. It’s your slides and your speech that are going to keep the audience glued to your presentation
In a face-to-face presentation, some people ask questions out of politeness. This norm doesn’t occur in virtual presentations; therefore, your presentation should raise “next step” issues that the audience may want to resolve before leaving. That leads to a great Q&A session, which allows you to truly demonstrate your expertise. Conclude with contact information, so the audience can follow-up with you.
Finally, control your setting so you are as comfortable as you can be. test the equipment and the provider’s platform; rehearse delivering the presentation. Keep water available. Sit upright (not too comfortable) or even stand a you present to generate them most energy. Remember, you’re selling the audience on an idea â€“ so you need to transfer your enthusiasm!