Presentation skills in the age of virtual events

Presentation skills in the age of virtual events

Knowing how to captivate and engage an audience has always been a critical skill for business, although it is a skill that is often overlooked. Think back to the conferences or training events you have attended over the years; does the phrase “death by PowerPoint” come to mind? All too often, presenters who are tasked with capturing your attention achieve the exact opposite. Now, in the era of physical distancing and virtual events, this task becomes even more difficult.

Presenters in the age of video calls and teleconferencing have a host of new concerns to manage. You might not be able to see your audience, which may make presenting feel awkward and difficult. Added to that, the possibility exists that your audience is distracted or multitasking and – unlike in a physical venue – they can easily hide this fact by turning off their video and/or audio. 

Make a good impression

From salespeople to CEOS, holding the attention of a crowd can have big implications on your bottom line. Whether you are in a boardroom with an audience of five or a TedTalk stage with a crowd of 500, delivering your message is all about visual presentation. This doesn’t change in the transition to a virtual platform.

If you are one of many who have attended a presentation skills workshop from SWM Communications, you would have learned that first impressions are 7% about what we say (content), 38% how we say it (vocals) and a whopping 55% what we look like (visual). So, what does this mean in today’s context of Zoom, MS Teams, Webex, Skype and Google Meet?

Dress to impress

The concept of dressing to impress takes on a new meaning in a virtual environment. It’s not really about the clothes you are wearing (in fact, you can stay in your pyjama pants if you really want to). Now, good presentation is about ensuring proper lighting, eliminating background noise, and checking the angle of your camera. When preparing for a virtual presentation, remember to test your “set” ahead of time and rehearse what you want to say. This seems like obvious advice, but people still get it wrong, just like “death by PowerPoint”. 

Remember, less is more

This cliché is a cliché for good reason. Today’s consumers are inundated by information, which comes at us from every angle in ever more creative ways. To really drive a point home and rise above the noise, your message needs to be succinct. If you are going to use PowerPoint, use it properly. Your audience will thank you.

  • Make it short and sweet – See how you can deliver your message using fewer words and fewer slides.
  • Avoid bullet points – Studies have shown that they just detract from what you are saying. If you need cues, keep them to yourself. 
  • Use visuals – Bump up your use of photos and interactive media, and reduce visual clutter where you can. 
  • Keep things simple – Remember that in a virtual environment, you don’t know the size of your audiences’ screens. Use your space wisely. 

Consider a facilitator 

In a physical conference or office environment, a presenter is often supported by an IT technician, MC, or a facilitator of some sort. In the transition to virtual, the support role should not be overlooked. As a presenter, you need to focus on delivering your message. You can’t do this if you are also running the event. Find someone who can: 

  • Troubleshoot connection and AV problems.
  • Facilitate questions coming in from audience members.
  • Mute and unmute participants as needed. 
  • Ensure slides are running smoothly.
  • Let people in and out of meeting rooms. 

Get proper training and put your best foot forward

If you are in a position where you need to give regular presentations, or if you have a big event coming up where you need to address an audience, consider our presentation skills workshop. SWM Communications can set up a workshop tailored to your needs, and will equip you and your team with presentation skills to see you thrive in any physical or virtual setting.