Giving a virtual presentation is quite different than giving one in person. While some elements are similar (like having solid content and an engaging delivery), there are a lot of new factors added to the mix. And it can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to expect. So here are the 7 most important things you need to know about in order to deliver an awesome virtual presentation.
Have the right camera.
Chances are you already have a camera for your computer (or in your computer). In our COVID-19 world, most of us are already quite familiar with virtual meetings. But with the uncertainty of when we may go back to in-person meetings (and some perhaps never will), you might want to consider upgrading your gear. Especially if you do a lot of virtual presentations.
There are options for a wide range of budgets — from a simple webcam to a camcorder to a DSLR that shoots video. Just be sure to do your research on what each offers and what you actually need. (For instance, when using a DSLR, you’ll also need an HDMI capture device and HDMI cable to connect it to your computer in order to use it as a webcam.)
And when you set up your camera, always be sure it’s at eye level so you aren’t tilting your head up or down. (Trust me, it will look much better straight on.)
Make sure you can be heard clearly.
Consider an external microphone instead of the one in your computer. There are options (like the Blue Yeti) that are great if you are sitting at a desk. And there are wireless options as well for those of you who would be standing up and potentially moving around a little bit.
A lot of these mics will help drown out background noise, but you’ll still want to be in a quiet space without distractions. If you are at home and have family around, be sure they know when you will be live so they can limit noise or be in a different area of the house.
Finally, be sure to avoid any jewelry that might be noisy — earrings, necklaces, or bracelets. Small sounds could end up being very distracting through a microphone.
Clean up the visual.
What will your audience or your team see as they watch your presentation? If you are sitting at your computer, what’s in the space behind you? Clear up clutter or anything that might be distracting (or embarrassing). Less is better, because you want them focused on you. (The benefit of having a DSLR as your webcam means you have the ability — with manual settings — to blur out the background.)
Make sure to preview the view through the camera so you can see exactly they’ll see. The room will often look different in that 2D view on the screen than what you think it looks like.
You should also make sure the lighting is such that you can be seen. Natural light is great if you have it. Just be sure to not have your back to a window with too much light coming in behind you. Close the curtains if that’s the case. And if it’s too dark in the room, you may want to look at purchasing lights made for filming so you can shine them directly on you to be well-lit. There are plenty of affordable options.
Work out the technology.
Technology is awesome because it makes all of this possible, but it can also be frustrating at times. So make sure to get it all set up way ahead of time and do a practice run to make sure the gear is working. Plug in the mics, set up the camera, and do the presentation as you will for the audience.
For the best and strongest signal, also be sure to use an ethernet cable to plug directly into your modem. You don’t want to be in the middle of your presentation and suddenly freeze or become pixelated.
If you can have someone else on board to help you with the tech and make sure everything is smooth, it’s really beneficial.
Prepare to share.
Will you be sharing your screen during the presentation? If so, make sure your desktop is tidy. Remember that what you see is what they see. Have any files or visuals that you need at the ready so you aren’t scrambling for them in the moment.
Turn off computer notifications and close browser tabs that you don’t need. You want any distractions out of the way. If you are sharing a file with text, is it big enough to read? Remember that not everyone has the same size screen.
When you do the test run for the technology, doing a full run-through of the presentation will also simply give you some practice. Record that test run and watch it back to see what works and what doesn’t. Just like with an in-person presentation, you don’t want to be looking down at notes the whole time. In the virtual space, that can be even more off-putting.
Deliver and connect.
Whether virtual or in-person, there are still human beings on the other end of your presentation. The tricky part is that you may not always be able to see their faces. The give-and-take of energy is different in a virtual setting as you don’t get the same real-time feedback.
Regardless, you should still be as engaging as possible. Keep your voice lively, smile, and be personable. You can’t make eye contact in the same way, but you can look into your camera (instead of at the computer screen). This feels like eye contact to your audience.
Finally, figure out a way you can interact with your audience, if it’s relevant to your presentation. Can you take questions via the chat feature? Can they virtually raise their hands to speak? Many platforms also offer features like breakout rooms, polls, and surveys. Use these extra features as you can to keep people engaged.
Virtual presentations don’t have to be intimidating. Be as prepared as possible with these tips and you’ll get the hang of it in no time at all.
“Keep your mind open to change all the time. Welcome it. Court it. It is only by examining and reexamining your opinions and ideas that you can progress.” –Dale Carnegie