Just because a presentation is virtual, doesn't mean you can't make it special.
Today, virtual meetings are more prevalent than ever. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex, and Google Hangouts have become the primary way we meet with our clients and coworkers, and though these programs provide many benefits to remote team members, the transition from face-to-face to digital communication hasn’t been easy. Presentations in particular are often affected: there are far too many boring, low-action virtual presentations that fail to engage audiences.
When presentations don’t spark interest, their messages have less impact and memorability, which can zap morale, productivity, and, most importantly, reduce message clarity. Whether presenting to management, teams, or clients, there are three common causes for low-action virtual presentations:
The image of the speaker is too small.
There is minimal action in the slides themselves.
The speaker is not animated enough.
Luckily, these issues can be fixed with some quick, simple solutions. Let’s break them down.
Problem 1: The image of the speaker is too small
To counter this issue, periodically stop sharing your screen during a presentation. When you stop screen-sharing, your audience will be able to see your facial expressions and interpret your emotions with greater ease. Showing your face in addition to your content will make the presentation much more engaging than merely presenting slides on a screen. In a face-to-face setting, presenters don’t need to worry about this as much; audience members can see them as clearly as they can see the slides. When speaking virtually, it’s important to remember that your use of nonverbal communication skills contributes just as much to the presentation as the information you’re sharing.
Problem 2: There is minimal action in the slides themselves
Your slides will likely take up most of the screen during your presentation. If the content of these slides is nothing but a series of flat, unappealing bullet points and graphs, your audience members will be less likely to give your presentation their full attention. We typically recommend that presenters be judicious with animations when presenting both in person and virtually. However, virtual presentations pose a new challenge: the audience is more focused on your screen visuals. To ensure your audience gets the most out of your virtual presentation, make your slides both informative and visually appealing.
Modern audiences are used to seeing constant action. For example, recent studies have shown that movies now feature more motion and shorter shot lengths. Analyze your presentation with this in mind. How much movement does your slide deck incorporate? There are plenty of tools you can turn to if movement is lacking in your presentation design. Builds, fades, zooms, pans, and morphs are all available in PowerPoint and Keynote. When used well, they add action and interest to your presentation.
Problem 3: The speaker is not animated enough
Let’s face it: it’s hard to get excited about presenting the monthly status report, and it’s even harder when you’re staring at your monitor and your kids are in the next room doing a math assignment. This is our new normal, and although it can be a challenge to adjust, it’s important to adapt and find creative ways to support and encourage our team. Delivering high-energy presentations is a great way to boost your team’s morale. Here are two ways you can bring some liveliness to your presentation:
Turn your status update into a narrative. Use your imagination and find ways to transform the information you are presenting into a story. People are naturally drawn to stories: presenting your progress and obstacles as an unfolding journey (with a beginning, middle, and end) can make your message easier to provide a useful way for your team members to contextualize their own participation in the project. You can even try giving parts of the project a “character” so the audience can visualize and better understand their interactions. You don’t need to overdo it; keep it simple and keep it real.
Use volume and rate. Volume and rate generate internal energy. You can’t have low energy when you’re increasing volume or increasing your rate of speech. A good target rate is about 130 to 150 words per minute. If you’re below that range, you have room to increase your rate. Use the voice recorder on your smartphone or an app like Speeko or LikeSo. Select a passage of 150 words and record yourself. Did it take you longer than one minute? Were you finished in 45 seconds? Find out your natural rate of speech and, if it’s too fast or slow, adjust it accordingly. PowerPoint’s Coach feature has some great AI-powered reports on your speaking rate and use of filler words. You can also use your voice recorder to analyze and improve your volume. Listen carefully to your recording. Now try again; increase your volume and pay attention to your energy level. Did it increase? Simply being aware of your volume can make a surprisingly big difference when it comes to adding energy to your presentation. Make use of these tools to build presentation skills and rock your next monthly status report!
We hope you’ll incorporate these techniques into your virtual presentations. You’ll find that they make all the difference in engaging your audience and making your message as memorable as possible. For more information on how to create and deliver vital presentations, contact us.