In this day and age speed is something we are all happy to pay a premium for. We want our favourite shows now, we want the latest news headlines now, music from our favourite artist the same day it’s released, and the list of on-demand items goes on and on and on.
So why are so many people in the business world still trying to juggle diaries and logistics in order to get a group of people in the same room for a presentation? It makes no sense for any company in 2020 to not have the ability and skillset to instantly present to anyone anywhere in the world.
Whilst most of us now have licenses for online meeting software like Zoom, GoTo Meeting, Webex, and Google Meetings to name just a few, the whole dynamic of presenting online can feel very alien to people and the experience can sometimes be more chaotic than beneficial.
To help you stand out from the crowd and deliver the very best online presentations possible I have put together my top 5 tips which I’d love to hear your thoughts on in the comments below.
#1 - Practice your 'what if' scenarios
When presenting in person there are a lot of variables to think about. That can triple with an online presentation because you have zero control over other people’s internet connection, phone line, or various distractions in their environment.
When getting used to online presenting it is a great idea to practice what I call ‘what if’ scenarios with your colleagues. For instance:
- What if my phone line goes down midway through?
- What if I accidentally click the LEAVE MEETING button before I’m finished?
- What if my slides won’t load?
- What if my cat jumps on my desk spilling coffee all over me?
The answer to that last one is ‘carry on’ unless you have third-degree burns!
My point here is that you do need to be ready for every eventuality. And if you’re presenting to clients then it’s not best to use them as your guinea pigs.
Practice some scenarios with colleagues and have a clear plan in place so that you’ll know how to react and you won’t panic at all.
#2 - Set the ground rules
I’ve delivered hundreds of webinars and online training and I always start by laying out the ground rules. This is to make sure everyone knows what to expect and how to interact.
These rules might be different depending on the number of people you have in your meeting, but it’s important to tell them:
- That they’ll be muted whilst you present. This really helps with removing background noise and I’d recommend it for 4 or more people on your call.
- If there are questions they can use the Hands Up button and you’ll unmute them.
- The session will be recorded. Make sure everyone is okay with that and you aren’t breaking any confidentiality rules.
- Ask if people could mute their phones and remove any distractions they might have around them. For the benefit of everyone in the meeting.
#3 - Check your audio and webcam
Having good audio is absolutely crucial for a successful online meeting. I’d always recommend purchasing a good headset rather than just using the crusty old headphones you wear at the gym.
Look for online reviews and brands that have specific headsets with background noise cancellation and so on. Checking customer reviews is always helpful.
And ALWAYS use a webcam so that people can see you. This is crucial and it will really help people engage with you in the session. They’ll see that someone is putting in the effort to deliver a good presentation and hopefully be less distracted by emails and other things.
You can decide to switch your webcam off after the initial introduction has been done so that the audience can then focus on your content, but I’d recommend you stay on screen as much as you can. It’s you that people want to hear from.
#4 - Use interaction
I can’t stress this enough. To keep people engaged throughout make sure you force them to interact at least every 9 minutes and 59 seconds.
10 minutes is the magic number where people’s attention can really start to drift off. To keep them with you and your content I would suggest getting them to interact in some way. Here are the two main ways I interact with my online audiences:
- www.sli.do is an amazing tool for asking questions and getting instant results. These live polls can be accessed easily by people on their phones and you can show the results on screen as they come in. It’s a great way to get a sense of how much people are into your content and paying attention.
- Present in a conversational way. If you have small groups in your online meeting then why not ask them ‘What would you like to focus on first?’ and zoom into the requested content straight away. This is easily done with a presentation tool like Prezi.
Make sure you keep asking for interaction at least every 10 minutes and you’ll find people will really enjoy your presentation much more than being asked to sit and listen.
#5 - Keep your slides simple
Think about how many distractions you have in front of you right now. Email, Skype, Phone, Slack, Social Media, and all whilst reading this article.
People in your online meeting will have a lot of distractions coming at them so it’s important not to overcomplicate your visuals. Less is definitely more for online presentations and here are some simple rules to go by:
- Don’t make them read from the screen! – Ditch bullet points entirely (YES ENTIRELY!) and use images or videos (without sound) to back up what you’re talking about.
- Give content space to breath – Rather than cramming 4 points onto a single slide, create 4 slides and give each point lots of space. You can bring them together at the end of you like, as a summary slide.
- Don’t present in edit mode – Presenting in edit mode is the most amateurish thing I’ve seen people do. It adds a tonne of complexity to what people see, plus they are going to be looking at what is coming next.
- Avoid complex animation – Sometimes if people joining your meeting do have a bad connection they might not see the sexy smooth animation you were up all night building. Save yourself the late-night and keep it simple.
#Bonus tip - Hit the record button
I’ve forgotten to do this lots in the past and then had to re-record the session afterward because people wanted it to review in their own time, or they were unable to make my Webinar at the set time.
At the top of my checklist, I always have a note in bold that says HIT RECORD.
It’s really beneficial to be able to look back at how you did and of course, you can use that content online for social media as well.
Want to master online presenting?
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