Virtual presentations don’t have to suck, but they usually do. That’s because most people use the same approach they would for a regular presentation, even though it’s much more difficult to hold the audience’s attention virtually. So, you want to be the exception? Here are my five key tips for virtual impact.
The beginning of a presentation is always critical because it sets the tone. With a virtual presentation, it’s even more important. You’ve got to get the audience intrigued so they’ll stay with you on the journey. To this end, your opening needs to succinctly convey:
- The challenge this content is designed to resolve
- The type of relevant insights they will hear
- The tangible benefits they will receive
When I say “succinct”, I’m talking 3 – 5 sentences. No more. Your goal is to get everyone aligned in terms of expectations and excited for the results. Try something along the lines of:
“We’ve been struggling with the best way to meet customer expectations during the pandemic. This presentation is going to finally uncover what they need from us in terms of service offerings and how to deliver them. I’m going to let you know now – several of these findings are really going to surprise you.”
Keep the slides simple and interesting
This is not the time for text-heavy slides that require significant reading. You as the presenter need to tell the story here. You want minimal text and only one visual per slide.
Keep things intriguing – a slide that says: “the apple analogy” is going to hold people’s attention longer than one that says “quarterly projections”. An image of someone sticking their tongue out is more interesting than a flower. Package your information in a compelling manner.
Bring the audience in
Nothing holds the audience like the ability to participate. Find ways to get them involved. Ask questions or take polls. Have them guess the outcome of something. Ask them if they’re surprised by certain results. Encourage questions. Dialogue is your friend.
[Short] anecdotes and stories are also great tools in a virtual setting because they hold an audience’s attention and help them retain key points.
Shepherd your flock
If people are starting to focus elsewhere, take that as a cue that you need to deliver your information more crisply. Virtual presentations don’t allow you to dawdle over your message – every sentence should be relevant and not repetitive.
If they’ve strayed, bring the audience back with a phrase like: “this point is important, so if you’re multi-tasking, come back to me.” Once you have their undivided attention, hit them with a key take-away.
Summarize key implications
End with a slide that cleanly summarizes the key points of your presentation. Focus on the implications, not the findings. Deliver them with energy and punch – your audience has been in listen mode for a while and may need a reminder.
The key to a great virtual presentation is to keep the audience’s needs in mind. Keep it as succinct, personalized and meaningful as possible and leverage every opportunity you can to go off-script, tell a story or a well-timed joke, and get the audience involved. With a little practice, you’ll become a master.
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