Even after some kind of normality returns after COVID, we know that it will take a long time before face to face meetings will be as prolific as in the past. Working from home and using cost-effective video conferencing will be attractive to companies eager to keep costs down. (Need more comprehensive help now? Check the online course HERE.)
So how do we manage? The tools are new, we have to present without seeing the audience, and its hard to keep the energy up.
Here are a few quick solutions to some of the biggest problems people face in online presenting.
Biggest tech issues to address
Yes, do a tech check, test your audio and video, and make sure the screenshare works. But perhaps more important is the setup of what they will see and the message you want to convey.
1. Camera position. Lift your computer or webcam up to eye level, so that you can look directly at the camera, not down on it. This gives a more equal feeling for the audience, and connects them more comfortably with you.
2. Background. What is the message you want to communicate: Homely? Professional? Chaotic? Then let your background match that message. Remove the old boxes, the ironing board and the Ben Elton novels, and make conscious decisions of what you want people to see.
3. Avoid backlight. Presenting in front of a window or any kind of bright background will mean your audience can’t see your facial expression, and that means you lose a lot of the communication tools available.
Content, Content, Content
Regardless of tools, a good presentation needs great content. Make sure you have developed a clear storyline by brainstorming with Post-Its instead of diving straight into the slides.
Take time to assess – who’s the audience, and what’s the objective? Then brainstorm all the topics you could talk about, and build your storyline with Post-Its. Once you have an idea of the beginning/middle/end, focus on having a strong opening that gets them into the story straight away, and a planned closing with a clear call to action.
Make Your Voice Heard!
When you don’t have body language available, your voice is the main communicator of emotion and logic. You guide people what to think and feel by the energy and emphasis you put into key words and messages off your talk.
1. Record yourself. Present the first 3-4 minutes of your talk, and listen back. Yep, everyone loves this, right? Or rather, everyone hates this – that’s right! However, when you listen as an audience member, you take a different perspective. Think about whether you are making clear which words count, and practice again with your own feedback.
2. Spoken or written language? When we write, we assume people will read. Written language is more formal and technical – but spoken language is different, more direct, simpler. When you say it out loud, you’ll find out whether these are words that you would use to explain to a friend over coffee, for whether they are better served in a technical report fro then board.
3. Stand Up! My wife is a trained Voice Actor, and they are taught to stand when recording their voiceover. This is because you have more energy when you stand and this is communicated in your voice almost subconsciously.
These and many more tools are explained and packaged in a new online course – more information here.