7 tips to improve online presentations

virtual meetings Oct 13, 2021
7 tips for virtual meetings

I just saw some frightening statistics about online meetings. Video conferencing increased by more than 500% last year. We spend on average 10 hours a week in virtual meetings. And 90% of people are multi-tasking while they’re online.

Virtual meetings are part of our lives now. We don’t want to get ‘Zoomed-out’ or complacent about these meetings. We still have important messages to convey and audiences to convince. 

But if 9 out of 10 people in your audience are checking their mail while you try to persuade them to change the way they work, or think, you’d better be on top of your online game - every time.

Here are seven tips to help you keep your virtual audience engaged:

  1. Get the lighting right. People need to see you. They particularly need to feel that they can look you in the eyes. So make sure you have good light on your face. Never sit with your back to a window. Turn round if you can and use the natural light. If there is poor or no natural light, invest in some simple LED lighting. It’s inexpensive and doesn’t take up too much space.
  2. Talk to the camera. This takes a little practice, because our instinct is to scan the faces of the Brady Bunch on our screens. Focus instead on talking directly to the web cam or the camera on the top edge of your computer. Make sure the camera is at or slightly above eye level. You will need to elevate your laptop in order to do this. Low camera angles - the default position for most laptops - are unflattering.
  3. Focus on framing. You want the camera to frame your head, neck and shoulders. (Remember in point 1 we said people want to see your eyes). Don’t lean back. Instead, lean forward slightly - just as you would if you are presenting in the live meeting. It also conveys energy, a great way of connecting with your virtual audience.
  4. Control the background. People understand that you are working from home, but you don’t need to show them baskets of laundry or dirty pots in the sink. Avoid anything behind you that might distract from your message. If all else fails, check out virtual backgrounds.
  5. Check the tech. If possible use an ethernet cable to link your computer directly to the modem. It will give you the most stable internet connection and reduce the risk of your video freezing. Also, check your audio quality. An external microphone almost always gives better sound than the computer microphone. 
  6. Engage and re-engage. Even more than in a live presentation, you have to keep the audience engaged and participating. Use questions, chats, polls and breakout rooms to encourage audience involvement. Try not to talk for more than ten or 15 minutes without having something that re-engages the listeners. If you are expecting to use the chat boxes a lot, consider getting someone else to monitor the comments. That way you can focus on your presentation.
  7. It’s a performance. All presentations are performances, so bring all your energy, enthusiasm and personality to the show. Your enthusiasm will be infectious and is a really powerful way of getting your message to resonate with your audience.