The Covid-19 outbreak has brought the world to a standstill. Thousands of businesses have shifted their work online, urging their employees to work from home. This means the demand for apps to hold meetings and conferences online has skyrocketed. But one thing many of us haven’t given much thought or attention to is the demand for a new skill – presenting remotely!
Presenting yourself remotely online has its unique challenges. Virtual presenters face significant obstacles that live presenters do not. In a live presentation, there is an expectation that the people in the seats are going to remain there the entire time. It would draw significant attention to them if they got up and left halfway through, and most people are more likely to just zone out with their phone. But they’ll stay in the room, and could possibly be engaged at a later point. However, a virtual audience can leave whenever they feel like it. They can even be on their laptop or phone doing other things throughout the presentation without anyone even realising it!
So, how do you stand out as a remote presenter? What are the things you should keep under consideration while delivering online? We’ll be discussing all this and much more.
Nerves are a good thing
Remember the first time you presented in front of an audience? You might have felt nervous, anxious, jittery? Well, you’re not alone. Happens to the best of us. Being nervous means you care about giving an excellent presentation. Your nervousness produces adrenaline, which helps you think faster, speak more fluently, and add the needed enthusiasm to convey your message.
Similarly, it’s not uncommon to feel uncomfortable or nervous while staring into a camera – not your laptop screen….the black circle dot. It may feel strange at first because you don’t get the same audience interaction. You’ll get used to it after the first few times. The best for you is to train yourself to adjust to this environment. Have a few goes recording yourself before the presentation and review the footage. Over time you will feel more comfortable recording videos or going live for your audience.
Don’t feel bad if you’re not exceptionally good at it right away. Rather than striving to be perfect, just be you. Your audience will appreciate it.
Focus on your background, lighting and microphone placement
You can’t just turn on your camera wherever you are and start holding a business conference. Make it look as professional as possible. This includes making sure the room is tidy. Clutter in the background is distracting, especially the areas that are in direct view.
Next, make sure you have proper lighting. Good lighting makes all the difference in the world. Natural lighting is always the best, but you should consider getting a desk lamp or a ring light for your camera. In some cases, you won’t even have to purchase any lighting equipment but adjust your blinds here and there or change your position.
Seeing you in clear view is important, but clear audio is just as important. Be mindful of the microphone placement. If you use a headset with a built-in mic you can adjust it to get a clear unmuffled sound. On the other hand, if you have a stand mic, you can adjust the mic levels to the correct level. We also suggest placing your mic upwards (as you’ll find in radio stations). This minimises the breath noise and keeps your sound clear.
First 15-seconds count, don’t waste it
How many of us cringe when the first thing a presenter says is to check the technology or makes some excuse about not being tech-savvy. Then it gets really awkward as they fidget around the tech. Whatever you do, avoid this, even in virtual presentations.
When you start, you have everyone’s attention, and you want to keep your audience hooked from the start. Make sure you have a close friend or co-worker in the audience to give you the go sign via chat or to notify you of any technical issues before the event commences. You should decide on your opening statement beforehand. Make it short; make it simple and make it memorable.
Make use of visual aids
Make use of both your camera and screen-sharing. This keeps things interesting. No one wants to look at the same visuals for 1 hour straight. Taking the use of PowerPoint is a brilliant idea. Visually displayed data is more easily understood.
Another thing you should focus on is ‘transitioning’ from the camera to screen-sharing. For your desktop, clear out unnecessary files cluttering your desktop, Close personal applications and turn off notifications for your social apps and e-mails. Keep the apps you will be using directly in display, preferably open and ready for use. Just to be safe, set your computer to the do-not-disturb mode by turning off all pop-up notifications.
Look the part. Use gestures and correct your body language
Now you don’t become accustomed to remote speaking right off the bat. It takes time and one of the hardest parts is adjusting your body language and gestures. You don’t have to be stiff on camera or overly animatic. Keep it human, clean and straightforward. Use simpler gestures and avoid ‘waist level’ gestures. Focus on your posture, don’t slouch, sit up straight and maintain eye contact with the camera.
Another thing you should focus on testing out your appearance using photobooth for Mac or PC. Make sure your entire face is visible (don’t cut off the top of your head or show your ceiling instead of your face). It goes without saying, but make sure your attire is professional.
Get your audience to pitch in – Q&As and live-polls
Keeping the audience engaged is not easy when your audience is not physically present. You can get your audience to drop questions in the live chat to submit questions that you would answer at the end of the session. Some people also keep their audiences engaged by adding live polls to their talks.
Tip: To make it easier for you, set up someone to serve as a moderator to keep an eye on the chatbox for Q&A, connectivity issues, or anything else that may come up. If there’s going to be a Q&A, state at the beginning of the talk how you want this to happen, for example, by collecting comments throughout the talk in the chatbox or by reserving time in the end, etc. so that attendees know what to expect. See what works best for you.
Ready to present virtually?
Online/remote events can never give the same experience physical events do. But they are a fantastic alternative instead of completely cancelling your activities. Apple, for example, has decided to host its WWDC 2020 event online amid the Covid-19 outbreak. You too, should consider hosting live events/meetings.
Need help with your virtual conference or event? Get in touch with us to find out more.