With more and more events going online, it’s important that as a speaker, you set yourself up for success on the virtual stage. Here are a few tips and best practices to help you create an impactful virtual presentation and connect with your online audience.
For the best sound…
If possible, use a microphone such as a Snowball, Audio Technica, or a Yeti, or consider wearing headphones with a microphone. Oftentimes the built-in speakers and microphones can create unwanted feedback. No matter what microphone you are using (external, headset, or computer) make sure to check audio levels before presenting.
Most attendees will be listening to your presentation through headphones, so every noise they hear will be noticeable. Do your best to eliminate unnecessary audio distractions such as notifications on your computer or nearby mobile devices, and make sure that the other people in your household know that you are presenting and to keep noises and interruptions to a minimum. For background noises that you don’t have control over such as pets and kids, consider using the app Krisp, which helps to eliminate background noise.
For the best visual…
You can use your computer’s built-in webcam; however, for a better quality video, consider investing in a webcam, such as Logitech.
In order to capture the most flattering angle, you want to make sure that your camera is at the same level or slightly above your face. You don’t want your computer to be looking up at you.
When presenting, remember to make eye contact with your camera. The biggest mistake presenters make on video is that they look at themselves or at the other people on the video rather than at the camera. When you make eye contact with the camera, it appears to the audience that you are speaking directly to them.
If possible, stand up to deliver your presentation just like you would to a live audience, and whether you are standing or sitting make sure that the video shows you from the waste up so that people can see your hands and any hand motions. You don’t just want them to see your face.
Strong internet connection is a must!
Unfortunately, I’ve attended too many virtual events where the speaker has an unstable internet connection, which affects both the audio and visual quality as well as the overall attendee experience. I recommend hardwiring your internet connection in order to avoid any issues with an unstable wifi connection. You will need an ethernet switch (the exact thing you need will vary based on the type of computer you are using) as well as an ethernet cable. You can do a google search to find the exact how-to based on your specific computer model.
Make sure to have good lighting!
It can be very distracting to watch a presentation when the speaker has bad lighting. Whether you are using a window or other flattering lights, such as a ring light, make sure that the light source is in front of you. If you’re using natural light, make sure you have a back-up light in case you end up presenting on a gloomy day.
Make sure that you don’t have a window behind or beside you, and don’t have any light behind you. Test out the lighting before your presentation to make sure that there is good lighting on your face.
Have the right background
You want to make sure you have a nice, clean and professional background. While simple is nice, you also don’t want just a plain white wall. You could use a folding screen or a vinyl background. Sitting in front of bookshelves/shelving is another great option, just make sure the shelves aren’t overly cluttered.
Dress the part
Even though attendees can only see you from the waist up, I recommend dressing professionally from head to toe. Not only does it save you from any potential embarrassment (we’ve all seen this video of the gentleman who got caught on a call in his underwear), but it also helps you feel more confident as a presenter.
Here are a few things to avoid wearing:
- Bold or distracting patterns
- Silks, satins, or other shiny fabrics
- Clothing that blends into the background
- Large, bulky shirts or sweaters
Delivering the Content
Make sure you know what virtual event platform you are using and what features they offer. It’s important to understand how to use the software (i.e. how to manage Q&A, chats, polls, presentations, etc). If you aren’t comfortable handling these tasks, make sure you ask a moderator to deal with them.
Attendees have a shorter attention span for virtual content then they do for in-person presentations. Consider reducing the length of your presentation to 25-45 minutes.
If your presentation is just providing information, you will lose your audience. You will need to intentionally incorporate engagement throughout your talk. Ask questions, post polls, encourage people to use the chats, survey the audience, or break out into small groups.
For your presentation, you will want to add variety in order to keep the audience’s attention. Consider incorporating a combination of links, images, screen sharing, videos, and slides. Keep your information clear, concise and visually appealing, use compelling imagery, and avoid too much text.
Lastly when delivering your content, make sure you bring your genuine enthusiasm, energy and passion to your presentation.
Practice your presentation in front of your computer. While it might seem awkward at first, it will help you with delivering an engaging presentation. Make sure you have everything you need nearby: a glass of water, notes, paper & pen, etc. Have any links that you want to put in the chat easily accessible, and test your audio, camera, and lighting before you log on.
By using the tips and best practices outlined above, you will create an impactful and engaging virtual presentation.
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