Whether your virtual presentation is a teleconference or webinar, it’s important that you prepare and practice it so that you can be successful. Just showing up and “winging it” – delivering a presentation without preparation - will not work.
One of the factors that makes a virtual presentation more challenging than an in-person presentation is that the audience can’t see you (unless you are doing a live streaming video) so you lose all the elements of body language which normally would help them understand your presentation. All you have is your voice.
Also, you can’t see the audience to determine if they understand you or if they have any questions (or even if they are paying attention).
And technology glitches, such as a poor internet connection or static on the phone line, often occur and interfere with your ability to communicate to the audience.
Here are 6 strategies for ensuring that your virtual presentation will be effective:
1. Shorten your presentation. If it normally takes you 1 hour to deliver it in person, condense your content down to 45 minutes because it is more difficult for people to pay attention virtually when they have so many other distractions. And don’t assume it will take you 45 minutes; actually practice and time it.
2. Have a laser-like focus on your audience and your message. Since you can’t see the audience’s reaction, you need to be unambiguous about your purpose and state it clearly and directly in your opening.
3. Add more variety to your voice. A monotone voice can be deadly in a virtual presentation. Speak louder, more slowly than usual (without speaking too slowly) and with more enunciation. Record yourself during practice and the live presentation itself and also get feedback after the presentation.
4. Energize your presentation. Even if there is no one in the room where you are presenting, standing up and smiling will give your voice more dynamism and help to keep the audience’s attention.
5. If you want audience engagement, prepare for it. Let people know that you will call on them by name. Or if your software has a polling or Q&A feature, learn to use it. If several people are gathered at a remote site, ask them to discuss something as a group and then have a spokesperson share the results.
6. Be prepared for what can go wrong with the technology of a virtual presentation. Know what you will do to handle any situation, from the call getting disconnected to the webinar software crashing.
The next time you have to deliver a virtual presentation, use these 6 strategies to ensure that the virtual medium doesn’t interfere with your ability to communicate your message to the audience.
For more help with how to persuade, influence and communicate with people even when you’re not in the same room, check out Gilda's course Virtual Presentations: How to Develop and Deliver an Effective Presentation Over the Phone