The unprecedented and fast-moving effects of COVID-19 have pushed a large amount of the global workforce into working from home. While there is still uncertainty as to when things will go back to normal, most organisations are finding new ways to continue with some finding new ways to continue to operate. Services still need to be procured, products still need to be made and presentations still need to be presented.
Presentations are one of the few activities that can still go on, even in these unusual circumstances. Video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype and many others are still making it possible to present your pitch, your strategy or your latest work-from-home policy as if you were still in the boardroom.
Here are five things to consider, that ensure your presenting-from-home efforts are still valuable and drive your audience to act.
Understanding your technology is the first step in ensuring you deliver an impactful online presentation. Whether you are using Zoom or Skype, understanding the platform and how it works is incredibly important. It will help you optimise your presentation for the technology’s functionality. For example, if your platform has a chat functionality consider points in your presentation where you might encourage your audience to engage via the chat.
Invest time into putting yourself in the shoes of your audience. A good way to do that is to ask yourself questions such as:
• What does their online experience look like?
• How will they get access to the meeting?
• Do they need to see your face and your presentation at the same time?
• Does your technology give you that functionality?
• How can you make the experience as seamless as possible, even for someone who isn’t tech-savvy?
Understanding your technology is all about optimising the audience experience. An audience that seamlessly enters a webinar and sees a presenter that is comfortable operating in the virtual environment is more likely to learn and engage with your key messages.
The underlying fear of presenting online is that it doesn’t carry the same formality or professionalism that presenting in person would. While there are environmental aspects of a live presentation you can’t replicate online, there are ways to help your audience understand that what you have to say is important for them to hear.
When presenting via video, your background behind you must help to set the context of what you are saying. If you’d like to convey a sense of professionalism, make sure you’ve got appropriate colours and lighting behind you. Having a plain white wall behind you is manageable, but it can come off as boring and uninviting. If it’s possible, style your background like you would an office or a boardroom. Also, consider what you will be wearing, this will help give a deliberate and professional context to your key message.
If you wrote your presentation right before everyone went online, you MUST update the content before you deliver it online. Writing content for an online audience is different from writing it for a live audience and your content should address it. While your key message might remain the same, you’ll need to change the tone in which you deliver it.
The global events of COVID-19 have affected everyone. Your audience has changed. They are entering your presentation with a different mindset. When updating your content, consider how that change in mindset might affect the way they perceive your key message, how can you ensure that your key message still engages them even in this new and uncertain world.
Online Presentations are more visual than a live presentation. Where the speaker can be the sole focus of a live-presentation, online webinars tend to work better when there is a visual element to what the audience is watching. If you don’t already have a supporting presentation, it is worth considering how adding a visual element can help improve the power of your online presentation. If you are already using a presentation, ensure that it is optimised visually and technically for your online platform. For example, if you are playing videos or audio from your PowerPoint make sure your technology supports this functionality.
You might also like to consider what resources you give to your audience either before or after, that might help them to gain more from the online presentation. You could send through a copy of the presentation that is more interactive and allows the audience to navigate through easier to find the information most relevant to them.
Finally, before you present online it is worth considering how you are going to change your performance. Performing in front of a live audience and performing in front of a camera are two different styles. Both can be used to create powerfully impactful presentations, but your approach to a live audience, cannot be the same as your approach to an online crowd.
When presenting online you don’t need large gestures or to project your voice as loudly as you would when presenting to a live audience. An online presentation requires a more nuanced approach. Rehearse with a colleague or a friend before your online presentation and get their feedback on how you look and sound.
These are unprecedented times for businesses and society as a whole. And while everything is going on communication is more important now, than ever before. By understanding your technology and considering how you can adapt your content, performance and presentation, you can still deliver online presentations that impact your audience and help drive your organisation’s outcomes.