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Related topics, how to give an effective online presentation from home.
June 10, 2022
Giving an online presentation isn’t always easy. So what should you do during a presentation to help make it successful? Check out these tips on how to have an effective online presentation from home.
Online presentations are the norm now that more people are working from home . For many, moving from in-person to online presentations may bring a new set of challenges to overcome.
Are you concerned you might fumble with new technology or appear unprepared when presenting in an unfamiliar digital arena? You’re not alone. These eight tips can help you deliver an effective online presentation like a pro.
1. Simplify the slides of your online presentation.
Each web conference platform has its own unique way of displaying slides. Avoid technical hassles by designing simple, easy-to-read slides.
Place text in the center instead of at the edges of the slides because they may not display correctly on your audience’s screens. Also, consider creating high contrast slides – they are easier to read for your virtual audience.
Remember: Online listeners may multitask or get distracted. To prevent them from missing your main points, arrive quickly at key messages. To do this, use a sentence headline for your slide titles that states the main point of your slide. You can then include the evidence for each of your key points in the body of the slide. It seems simple, but can be an effective way of organizing information for an online presentation.
2. Prepare for your online presentation.
Technology keeps us connected, but its complexity creates additional avenues for potential disruption. One way to prepare before giving an online presentation is to look at technology through the lens of Murphy's Law, which states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Focus on what you can control.
Check your internet connection.
Use the most reliable internet connection you can. Web-conferencing providers generally consider a wired connection to be more optimal than wireless (Wi-Fi) connections. And Wi-Fi connections are considered better than cellular connections.
Have a backup computer.
Have another laptop (or emergency tablet or phone) at the ready in case you encounter a problem.
Save your presentation.
Download a PDF version of your presentation to pull up in case there's a technical mishap with your slides (You do this by selecting “Save As” or "Print" and choosing “PDF.”) When saving your presentation as a PDF, remember to delete your hidden slides first as they will not remain hidden when you display your PDF presentation.
Close your tabs.
Close any unnecessary applications to ensure they don’t interfere with your web conferencing software. Also, shut off any other background activities requiring substantial memory or bandwidth, such as downloading or uploading large files or instant file synchronizations. Even an inactive browser can eat up your computer's memory, so consider exiting out before your online presentation.
Practice using the web-conference platform.
Get familiar with the platform you're using in advance. Practice muting and unmuting your microphone. If you're the host, practice muting and unmuting one or all other participants. Follow the instructions in the help center of your video conferencing app so that you don’t fumble during the event.
Online presentations to potential customers, investors, or even executive leaders are usually scheduled at given dates and times, and can be sent through your web-conferencing software. Arrive to the meeting a few minutes early to make sure your connection works and the web-conferencing software is working, especially if you are the host of the meeting. You can also test the screen-share function as part of the program to ensure it's in good working order for your online presentation.
3. Eliminate distractions.
Eliminate any visual clutter behind you. Clutter includes plants, boxes, piles of books, food, toys, laundry, and pets. An ideal background is a plain wall to eliminate distractions and look professional.
If you can’t tidy up your space, you can create a sophisticated virtual background. Canva offers free virtual backgrounds, and you can upload these designs to any video conferencing system that allows customized backgrounds. Not sure how to do this? Providers such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Webex, to name a few, give you step-by-step instructions.
4. Dress for your online presentation.
It may be tempting to wear your usual work-from-home attire like your PJs or your favorite hoodie, but providing an effective presentation requires that you dress the part. Wear your regular workplace casual clothes. When picking out an outfit, avoid distracting patterns or multi-colored shirts, as well as shiny fabrics such as satin or silk, as they may shimmer when you move your body on camera. Solid colors are best—you want people to focus on your message, not your clothes.
5. Use the right lighting for your online presentation.
If the lighting in your room isn’t optimal, set up a desk lamp behind your laptop, centered right over the camera to light up your face. For this to work well, minimize the lighting from other parts of the room by lowering the shades to prevent light from coming from the side or the back.
Avoid sitting with a bright window behind you as it will make you appear dark and foreboding. Switch positions to sit with the bright window in front of you.
6. Present in a quiet space during your online presentation.
Ideally, an online presentation should occur in a quiet room. However, working from home with a partner or kids can make it less of an ideal setting for controlling background noise. You can mitigate this challenge by investing in a good headset with a built-in microphone that cancels or neutralizes outside sounds and turning off your phone and any noisy computer notifications.
7. Make eye contact during your online presentation.
One of the best ways to provide an effective presentation is to make eye contact with your audience. Raise your laptop so your camera is at eye level. You can do this quickly by placing a box or a stack of books underneath your laptop. Practice speaking to the camera, not the screen. You can also angle the laptop screen to be centered in the frame, and your head is not cut off.
You may also need to move back a little. If you sit too close to your laptop, your face may look blown up. That’s often not the most flattering angle. Either sit with your back resting comfortably on your chair or push the laptop back. Ideally, it would help if you sat at an arm’s length from the screen. Sit up straight, smile. Make an effort to look good in your online presentation. It will show.
8. Keep your audience engaged during your online presentation.
An audience’s attention can flag, especially during a long online presentation. One way to judge your listeners’ attention level is through the attention tracking feature that is available in some web conferencing applications. Attention tracking features are indicators next to each attendee’s name on your attendee pane that show you if the person has an app other than the web conference at the forefront of their screen.
An effective presentation is all about being prepared. Simplify your presentation slides so they’re easy to follow, test out all your tech, and have backups for any unexpected mishaps. It’s also helpful to provide your online presentation in a quiet space and limit the distractions around you. Don’t forget to make eye contact and keep your audience engaged. Whether in the office or at home, following these simple tips will help you provide a flawless online presentation that informs and engages your audience.
A version of this article was originally published on April 16, 2020.
Science of People
People Smarts for Smart People
12 Tips to Give an Amazing Online Presentation
Whether you’re new to giving online presentations or a seasoned veteran, here are some tips that will launch your next presentation into the stratosphere!
Table of Contents
Start with momentum, open with iissaaqq, end with a bang, show your face, stand, don’t sit, leverage visuals to your advantage, add interaction, host quizzes and polls, live q&a’s, cut the presentation bologna, #screen record yourself , pick your presentation tools, embrace the fear, bonus: other creative presentation tips, remote work guide.
Start learning everything you need to know about Remote Work.
- Master Video Calls
- Manage Remote Employees
- Build a Strong Virtual Team
- Communication Tools
- Network Online
- Give Amazing Online Presentations
- Combat Zoom Fatigue
- Non-Boring Meeting Icebreakers
- The Work-At-Home Guide
- Tips to Deal With Loneliness
Do you have an online presentation coming up? I’ve given hundreds of virtual presentations, ranging from YouTube presentations to presentations for Microsoft. And from my experience, online presentations are a different ballgame than in-person ones.
In this article, I’ll share my top 12 tips and tricks to save you the trouble and ace your next presentation.
An online presentation is a prepared speech or talk in which a person or group provides information, pitches a new idea, or introduces a new product or service through a video call. Online presentations are given to an audience, usually in a business setting.
Ready to take a dive into the tips? Let’s go!
Virtual presentations are like taking a flight on an airplane. The beginning and ending are super important, but the middle’s kind of a blur.
That’s why, if you’re going to prioritize any part of your presentation, you are better off spending the majority of your energy on the first and last minutes. Let’s focus on the first moments.
The beginning of your presentation is critical because it sets the tone—a good first impression makes you feel confident and your audience relaxed. This forward momentum will carry onto the middle part of your presentation where you’ll be presenting the bulk of your data/statistics/information—so if you don’t nail your first impression, you won’t gain that forward momentum you need for the rest of your presentation.
And believe me, people judge you almost instantly! Here’s what the science has to say about first impressions:
A 2017 University of Toronto study found that observers take as little as 5 seconds to determine whether a person is charismatic or not!
So when you’re delivering a presentation online, you should try to make your beginning as error-free and smooth as possible. This includes being prepared and removing potential roadblocks:
- Fix computer errors: ALWAYS double- or triple-check your equipment before giving a virtual presentation. Make sure your microphone, webcam, and internet is working. If you have to fumble around with technical details during the video call, your audience may have the impression that you are unreliable.
- Eliminate distractions: Silence your phone, turn off desktop notifications, get rid of loud fan noises, and make sure your room is kid/dog free. Keep in mind that your audience will likely be listening through their headphones, so even the tiniest of noises might be heard.
- Dress appropriately: Here’s an easy one that some people actually neglect. Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you should have worn something a little nicer ? If you are giving a business presentation, dress in business appropriate attire (yes, even the pants, too!). It’s best to match your audience—and if in doubt, err on the side of professional! It’s also important to wear a color to stand out from your background, but not a color that’s too distracting.
- Be happy: Like it or not, we can’t hide our emotions. Research shows that people can hear your mood from your voice. So if you’re not in a good mood, try boosting it! Watch some funny YouTube videos or give yourself a small pep talk . Sounding confident and happy is the key to success, so make sure you are in the right mood before you go live.
↑ Table of Contents ↑
What does this really bad spelling of Isaac stand for? IISSAAQQ stands for the best ways to start an online presentation:
- Icebreaker: One of the best ways to open up your audience is to give a virtual icebreaker. I always keep an icebreaker on hand that can be done over the computer before starting any online presentation—it’s one of the best ways to connect with your audience!
- Illustration: You can say to the audience “Remember when…” and provide a picture, or paint a scene by telling the audience to imagine a scene when xyzzy occurred.
- Short story: A short personal story or story about someone else can really grip people, but the key is to make it short and not drag on.
- Statistic or surprising fact: A really good statistic can get people thinking and challenge their perspective.
- Aphorism: An aphorism is a common phrase or saying, such as “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Add a twist to the aphorism for added effect (“an apple a day keeps the doctor away… except if you’re sitting with an apple computer for 8 hours a day.”
- Analogy or metaphor: Saying an analogy (“User interface is like peeling an onion”) can really break down complex terms into more simpler ones, making it more digestible for your audience.
- Question: Starting with an engaging question can add a great amount of audience engagement, or even asking a rhetorical question can get them thinking out-of-the-box.
- Quote: A great way to start your online presentation is with a quote–but it should be related to your presentation and from a credible source.
The ending is the part where your audience is (hopefully) happy that the presentation is over, and they feel like they’ve learned something or feel inspired to change. If you’ve made it this far in your presentation, the LAST thing you want to do is crash and burn. So here are some tips to make an amazing presentation that will remain in your audience’s mind long after it has ended.
- Have an easy solution: The last few slides of your presentation should not be too information-heavy. Keep that for the middle. Your last slides should be both convincing and easy-to-understand.
- Have a clear ending: Avoid the awkward “So, does anyone have any questions?” moment by providing an end slide to your virtual presentation. It can be a simple recap of the presentation, or a call to action.
- Include a digital goodie: Include a digital goodie at the end! Everybody loves getting things, and it shouldn’t stop just because you are online. Digital goodies might include a downloadable PDF or document that includes more statistics/research or a list of relevant sources related to your presentation.
- Lead with a call to action: Calls to action are driven by emotion. And they work because we often respond to emotion over logic. If your business is proposing a new solution to an existing problem, try focusing on the emotional benefits vs. the statistics—happier customers vs. less product returns, cleaner world vs. smaller carbon footprint, etc. You can also try this double method: start with the negative, which amplifies the potential bad that might happen if your recommendation is not taken. Then, you can add in the positive, which highlights the good that can happen when your recommendation is taken.
- End with humor: One of the best ways to end a presentation is to use humor. If you do it right, you can leave a HUGE impression on your audience that will last for days, weeks, or months! There are a few ways to end with humor. First, you can introduce a question in the beginning or middle of your presentation and answer it in a funny, surprising way at the end. Second, you can end a story you started but stopped in the beginning or middle of the presentation. Some really good people to draw inspiration from are stand-up comedians. One great example of callback humor is in the movie, Airplane! In the beginning of a movie, a passenger enters a taxi. The driver tells the passenger to wait for a bit, but the driver never comes back as he ends up on an airplane instead. In the closing credits, this scene is played, which recalls the intro of the movie in a funny but memorable way:
Did you know that faces are attractive to humans? A study by Richard Fantz demonstrated that infants stare twice as long at human faces! We are just inherently born with an attraction to faces. In short: we love human faces, and yours is no exception.
If you’re giving an online presentation or even getting on video call for the first time with your new online networking contact, a super-easy bump in your likability factor is to simply show your face. Many video call programs such as Zoom or Skype allow you to share your screen while also showing your face. Here’s an example of my face in a webinar I hosted on how to thrive in a digital workplace:
Pro tip: you can even take it up a notch by backing up your webcam. This allows you to show your body language better! In fact, one of the most important nonverbal cues for charisma is your hand gestures . In the Toronto study mentioned earlier, the observers didn’t even need to hear a presenter talking; all they needed to do was see their body language! That’s how powerful body language really is. So push back your computer or phone or camera so your hands and upper torso are showing!
When you use your hands, you can also benefit from the following:
- Showing your wave hello (I ALWAYS do this!)
- Your explanatory gestures while you are speaking
- Visible hands while you are listening
Want more tips on how to make a better video call? Here are our 15 Tips for a Better Video Call !
Sitting is great. Standing is even better! One big mistake a lot of virtual presenters make is sitting down instead of standing.
When you stand, you can utilize the full range of your deep breathing, therefore increasing your vocal power . You’ll be able to project your voice louder and deeper, and have stronger vocal variance when you stand. Standing also helps you naturally convey a more powerful posture if your chest is up and your back is straight.
If you can, try to utilize a standing desk to your advantage! If you don’t have a standing desk, you can use your kitchen counter or another higher position to place your laptop. If you absolutely must sit, remember to keep your back straight throughout the presentation.
Does your online presentation contain a juicy tip, great piece of advice, or free goodie?
Consider giving it out in the first 5 minutes of your presentation rather than keeping it until the end. This will give your audience a little dopamine boost of motivation to continue listening to your presentation!
“Simply put, people are obliged to give back to others the form of a behavior, gift, or service that they have received first.“ – Robert Cialdini, author of Influence
Have you ever wondered what is the best way to use visuals in your online presentation? Visual aids are used to:
- engage the audience
- allow the audience to remember the information
- axplain complex ideas in easier-to-digest ways
- add variety to your slides
I try to use visuals in ALL of my online presentations! The thing is, it’s really hard to keep your audience engaged and distraction free, especially if they are online. So if you’re boring your audience by using long lists of words… your message won’t be getting across. According to John Medina, author of Brain Rules :
- If we only read text, we are only likely to remember 10% of the information 3 days later.
- If we add in a relevant image, we are likely to remember 65% of the information 3 days later!
So there’s no easier way to have your information remembered than to add visuals! Here are some examples of visuals you can use in your presentations:
- stock photos
- Youtube videos
- hand-drawn pictures
In my articles, I like to use hand-drawn stick figure comics. That’s because they’re both funny and engaging! They also help nail down important bits of information I want my readers to take away.
For example, here’s a random fact that you may not have known:
Alligators don’t only eat meat; they eat fruit, too!
Interesting, right? Now here’s an image to really drive in that fact:
I know, it’s not the best picture ever (I blame my lack of art skills!). But see how adding a simple image can really solidify a piece of information? You’ll remember this fact a lot longer by seeing an image rather than just by reading or hearing it.
Now take the power of visuals and use it to your advantage—if you’re giving a business presentation online, sprinkling in a few key visuals throughout your presentation can help you drive in those really important points.
If you’re debating whether you should use a visual, here’s a quick checklist to ask yourself:
- Does my visual help the main point of the slide?
- Is my visual appropriate for the audience?
- Is my visual too distracting?
- Does my visual help the audience understand complex information better?
- If a video, is it too long or short?
If your visual doesn’t meet one of the above checklist items, it’s best to cut it. And here’s something important you can write down for each visual you add into your slide:
The purpose for this visual is to ___.
If the purpose is not clear enough, consider removing the visual. Remember: visuals should only ADD value to your slide, not take it away.
A major downside to online presentations is that it’s hard to engage your audience. Besides nicely-placed visuals, you can add an element of interaction to your virtual presentations to make your audience more interested. Here are some interactive presentation ideas:
A great way to increase audience engagement is to use physical props.
How do you use props in an online presentation? Props should be used to explain a difficult concept, demonstrate a product, create humor, or be memorable. They should always support your presentation, and not distract from it. And the key to using online props is to first make sure that people can actually SEE your prop.
This means if you are in a video call, avoid using small objects that everyone can’t see. If you need to, you can momentarily stop screen sharing and turn to your live video feed so the audience can focus on your prop.
Pro tip: Don’t show the prop until it is needed. A bad move is to give away the goods and immediately take them away, causing your audience to remain in suspense and be distracted throughout your presentation!
One cool thing you could do during your presentation is to include your audience’s opinions using surveys. If I’m giving a presentation, I can insert a little quiz with a list of possible answers which my audience can then vote on. It’s really interesting to see how many people pick the right (or wrong) answer!
If you want to know how to create awesome quizzes for your presentation, check out our software section below.
One technique I love to use for better interaction is to simply ask questions!
For example, if you have an existing product you are discussing, you might want to ask your team, “What are some common customer complaints about this item?” Your team will then give their answers, pitching ideas of some common customer complaints.
Here’s where it gets good…
You can then go to the next slide that addresses these problems individually. Bam! You’ve done two things:
- You added interaction, and
- You provided a nice transition to the next slide.
Niiiice, a two-for-one combo!
What happens when you talk about the same things over and over again in a presentation? One bored audience, that’s for sure. And a whole lotta bologna on the side.
Repeating the same stuff. Facts that don’t need to be there. Extra words that make your eyes tired or are difficult to read.
I call this stuff Presentation Bologna. And it’s NOT the good kind of bologna (is there even a good kind?). Presentation Bologna includes:
- bullet points not relevant to the slide’s topic
- statistics or facts that reinforce already-existing data
- visuals that take up space rather than contribute value
- “fluff” words, or extra words that can be cut from a sentence without changing the original sentence’s meaning
Your goal is to make your presentation slides as small as possible, while retaining the most essential information possible. You can even write down notes on notecards to help assist you in explaining the points you have in your presentation or memorize what you will say altogether.
Online presentations should be simple and straightforward, like live presentations. The biggest difference here is that your audience will likely be straining their eyes, trying to look at their (potentially tiny) computer screens while you are giving a presentation.
That’s why it’s essential to cut the bologna. I usually do this step after creating the bulk of my presentation, but before practicing my presentation. Speaking of practicing, let’s move on to the next step…
The great thing about giving online presentations is that you can practice everything in the comfort of your own home. You can practice in the same room you’ll present in, with the same lighting, with the same computer setup, and everything. When practicing, make use of the screen recording feature! Screen record is an absolute must, especially for virtual teams . Most newer Mac and Windows computers have a built-in screen record feature already.
When going over your video recordings, take careful consideration of the following:
- Do I use too many/not enough hand gestures?
- Is my body language unnatural or distracting?
- Do I sound loud and confident enough?
- Do I have any technical issues?
- Am I under the time limit or going over?
You can even send your presentation over to a friend or family member for them to review at their convenience. Yay for technology!
When giving an online presentation, you have to have the right tools for the job. There are a lot of presentation tools out there—tools exist for:
- making your own animations
- creating Infographics
- planning conferences
- creating mind maps
- finding great images for your slides
- making your entire presentation
Depending on your needs, you’ll need to choose the right tools for your virtual presentation. I recommend choosing one tool to create your presentation and adding in visual tools along the way, based on your needs. Here are 5 of my favorite online presentation tools I use:
Pixabay is by far my most favorite image-finding tool. This site has over 1.7 million free, high-quality stock images and videos you can use to insert into your virtual presentation. Using a stock image is a great way to break up text, add a little emotion, and make your presentations a little more exciting.
When I use Canva, I feel like I’ve been given a magic design wand. That’s because there are a ton of free infographics, logos, pictures, posters, and even presentation templates you can use and customize to your heart’s content. And they’re surprisingly high quality for being free! Canva even has a section for Zoom Virtual Backgrounds that you can add to your video call when giving your online presentation!
Did I mention it’s free? I use the Premium version, although the Free version is great, too!
- Poll Everywhere
Here’s one that I mentioned earlier in the article. This is a great software I use to create live polls and quizzes for my virtual presentations! Whether it’s a multiple choice quiz, true/false test, or just a general Q&A poll, users can participate on their computers, phones, or tablets! It’s super easy to use and integrates easily with Keynote as well.
Want to eliminate distracting noises completely? Sometimes that’s not possible. But the closest thing I have found to help is Krisp. Krisp is a software that’s free to use (up to 120 minutes a week!) and works by blocking out all background noises so only your voice can be heard by other conference call members. You can download and install it, but I use the Chrome extension! It’s seriously worth giving a shot if you’ve got loud noise in the house.
Here’s the golden question: Should I make a Keynote online presentation, or a Microsoft PowerPoint one? Since I have a Mac, I use Keynote. It’s intuitive, easy-to-use, and it’s built into all Mac computers already. Keynote has a ton of presentation templates you can use, and you can even create tables and charts in the app itself! For me, Keynote is a must for my presentation-creating needs.
I compiled a list of the best tools my team uses. You can check them out here:
15 Best Remote Tools
Have you ever been skydiving? Even if you haven’t, you can just imagine that pit-in-the-stomach feeling of jumping out of an airplane. And if you shy or a natural introvert , giving presentations is not so different than skydiving.
After giving hundreds of presentations—both in-person and online—my best piece of advice to those with presentation anxiety is to give up on trying to get rid of that fear. That’s because that fear will probably never go away .
But here’s the silver lining: the fear does get better. The more you give presentations and get comfortable speaking in front of people, the less giving presentations suck . If you hate giving presentations like I once did, you might even turn to love them—once you learn how to walk with confidence and have the power to influence the way people think, you feel like you’re on top of the world!
And that pit-in-the-stomach feeling? It changes to a good fear—the kind that makes you look forward to giving presentations! And the more presentations you give, the better you get.
Life is better when you build your social skills. As a recovering awkward person, I was terrible at socializing—I would often lock myself in the bathroom at parties just to avoid conversation! But now, I want to inspire people to take charge of social situations because I know that social skills are the key to a happier, more productive life. That’s why I gave all my secrets about how to be ridiculously likable in Chapter 5 of my book. Interested? Here’s a free gift for you today– click here for the free first chapter of Captivate !
Unlock the Secrets of Charisma
Control and leverage the tiny signals you’re sending – from your stance and facial expressions to your word choice and vocal tone – to improve your personal and professional relationships.
Succeed with People
Master the laws of human behavior. Get along with anyone, increasing your influence, impact, and income as a result.
Congratulations, you have arrived at your destination!
As a thank you for taking this Science of People flight with me, I’d like to share with you some bonuses to take your presentation skills to the next level.
Here are some techniques you may want to master:
All too often we end up using the same old social scripts and asking people the same questions over and over again. If you want to do a team icebreaker before, during, or after your presentation, use my list of conversation starters:
57 Killer Conversation Starters
People who don’t feel confident often believe that confidence is something we are born with. It’s not . Confidence is a skill that can be developed. If you are nervous about your presentation, try boosting your confidence with these scientific techniques:
11 Scientific Strategies For More Confidence
Not everyone can work from home. But if you find a way to do it properly, you can reap some pretty amazing benefits. Check out the 7 Deadly Problems of working at home and how to combat them:
How to Work from Home Successfully in 7 Steps
Finally, I put together a guide on how to manage remote teams. If you’re leading a team of remote workers, this is one guide you shouldn’t miss! Check it out here:
12 Reliable Tips to Manage Remote Employees
6 replies on “12 Tips to Give an Amazing Online Presentation”
I usually give some advice to my engineering students for doing good presentations. This is a powerful resource. Thanks for sharing the tips.
Fantastic resource! I couldn’t ask for more.
Thank a lot Vannesa. You provide me excellent information.
Love your article. So much to learn from! I’m preparing a presentation in few months and you gave all I needed.
Thank you so much Vanessa!
I’ve never seen such a detailed guide anywhere else! Excellent! In recent months, probably almost everyone who works or studies remotely had to make online presentations. I like that you emphasized humor and the different visualization techniques that can be used to diversify the monotony of the narrative. I also find some of the platforms that you mentioned very useful. Thank you! I am preparing for a big and important presentation and hope to perform at my best!
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Best practices for virtual presentations: 15 expert tips that work for everyone.
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In today’s COVID-19 world, virtual meetings and presentations have become the norm. While many presentation skills and best practices apply to both in-person and virtual presentations, expert virtual presenters understand the importance of adjusting their approach to match the medium. With in-person presentations, you more or less have a captive audience — you still need be engaging, but your audience is kind of stuck with you for the duration. But with virtual presentations, your audience has a greater opportunity to stray. You now have to compete for their eyes, ears, hearts, and minds against diminished attention spans, increased home and work life distractions, and conflicting priorities.
Here are 15 expert tips to set you up for success in your next virtual presentation:
1. Get the Lighting Right: As a presenter, it is essential that people can see you well. Make sure you have good front light—meaning the light shines brightly on your face. If your back is to a window, close the shades. While natural light is often the best choice, if your home office doesn’t have natural light and you do a lot of virtual presentations, consider purchasing supplemental lighting to enhance your image.
2. Choose the Right Background: Try to use a background that enhances your professional image and is aligned with your message. Avoid a cluttered background or anything that can be distracting. Learn whether your presentation platform enables you to use virtual backgrounds (like Zoom) or whether you can blur your background (like Microsoft Teams). Your background can either add to your professional presence or detract from it.
3. Know the Technology: Nothing kills a presentation faster than a presenter who fumbles with the technology. This is a performance, so make sure you know how to make it work. A dry run is essential so that you’re comfortable with the platform features. It’s best to have a co-host (or producer or moderator) assist you with the technology so that you can focus on your presentation. Make sure you practice with the same technical set up (computer and internet connection) that you will use when you deliver the presentation.
4. Play to the Camera: When you are the one speaking, look directly into your computer’s camera , not on the screen or at the other participants. This takes some practice, but it makes the viewer feel as if you are looking right at them. Some presenters turn off their self-view so that they aren’t distracted by their own image. Put the camera at eye level . Try not to have your camera too far above or below you. If it’s too low, then you run the risk of creating a double chin. A camera too high makes it difficult to maintain eye contact, as you may find your gaze dropping as you speak. If you are part of a panel or a team of presenters, make sure you are aware of when your camera is on. If you are not speaking but your camera is on, make sure you look like you are paying attention! Powerful presenters understand the importance of making eye contact with their audience, so this means you have to simulate the same effect virtually.
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5. Get Close (But Not Too Close). You want the camera to frame your face, neck, and shoulders. People are drawn to faces, so you don’t want to lose that connection by being too far away, but you also don’t want your face to take over the whole screen like a dismembered head because, well, that looks weird. Practice your positioning and distance.
6. Stand Up: If possible, use a standing desk or position your laptop so you can stand at eye level with your computer. Standing up provides a higher energy level and forces us to put our body in a more presentation-like mode. If you have to sit, lean forward as you would if you were presenting at a real meeting or as if you were a TV news anchor. Avoid slouching away from the camera, as that sends a signal that you are disconnected from the audience.
7. Be Animated: Just like in a live presentation, you want to present with a little energy and animation. Too slow or too monotone in your voice makes it easy for folks to disengage and tune out. Keeping people engaged virtually requires you to actually be engaging.
8. Pace Yourself: Without real-time visual audience feedback cues, getting the pacing right can be difficult. Even though you want to infuse some animation and energy into your presentation don’t pump up the speed too much. If you tend to be a fast talker in real life, practice slowing down just a bit. If you’re a slow talker, you may want to speed up just a bit.
9. Do A Sound Check: If your sound is garbled, people will tune out. While people may forgive less than perfect video, if they can’t clearly hear you, they will leave. Practice with someone on the other end of the presentation platform. Make sure your sound emits clearly. Sometimes headphones or external microphones work better than the computer audio, sometimes not. Every platform is different, so make sure your sound quality is excellent every time. And again, you should practice with the same technical configurations and location that you will use for your presentation.
10. Plug into Your Modem: If possible, plug your computer directly into your modem using an Ethernet cable. This will give you the strongest signal and most stable internet connection. The last thing you want to happen during your presentation is to have a weak or unstable internet signal.
11. Incorporate Redundant Systems. If using slides, make sure someone else (another webinar co-host or producer) also has a copy of the slides just in case your internet goes wonky and you have to present by calling in. If you are using slides, make them visually appealing. Use high-quality graphics and limit the amount of text on each slide. It’s your job as presenter to deliver the content. The slides are meant to enhance your spoken words, not replace them.
12. Engage Your Participants. Just as if you were doing an in-person presentation, craft your presentation to engage the audience. Incorporate chats, polls, raised hand features, etc. Try not to speak for more than ten minutes without some sort of audience engagement. Use the participant list to interact with your participants by name. Have people chat or raise a hand if they want to speak. Keep track of the order of people and then call on them to invite them to turn on their mics or cameras.
13. Let Someone Else Check the Chats. Don’t get sidetracked by the chats during your presentation. You’ll be shocked at how distracting it is to your train of thought if you attempt to read the chats while speaking. Instead, have your co-host or producer monitor the chats. If you ask people to chat you answers or comments to a question you’ve posed, then pause your talking and engage directly with the chats by acknowledging them, reading them out loud, and commenting on them.
14. Evaluate and Enhance: If possible, record the session and take the time to play back and look for areas that worked well and areas that you might want to improve upon. Great presenters, whether virtual or in person, understand the value of continually honing their craft. Be sure to acknowledge your strengths as well as your areas of improvement.
15. Be Yourself and Have Fun: Again, just like in face-to-face presentations, audiences connect to authenticity, so be yourself! Let your personality show through. Have fun. If you look like you’re enjoying the presentation so will others. Research shows that happy people retain information better than bored or disinterested people, so model the energy that you want to create. The audience takes its cue from you.
Remember, whether you are presenting in-person or virtually, all presentations are performances. And all performances are in service to your audience. Their time is valuable, so honor that time by delivering the best presentation you can. No matter what kind of presentation you are giving, you must find ways to create authentic audience connection, engagement, and value.
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10 Tips For Giving Effective Virtual Presentations
What to know before you go live.
September 26, 2016
Presenting online? Try these suggestions to improve your results. | Illustration by Tricia Seibold
As audiences go global and you need to reach more people through technology (including webinars, conference calls and teleconference), you must consider the challenges to connecting with a virtual audience. Here I pinpoint 10 valuable best practices to ensure you communicate successfully.
1. Be Brief
Audiences begin to lose attention after roughly 10 minutes of hearing from the same presenter. If you have more than 10 minutes of content, use interactive activities to keep your audience engaged (for example, take a poll, give quizzes, or ask audience members for their opinions via chat).
2. Be Simple
Keep slides simple — avoid too many words, graphics and animation features. Less is definitely more!
Light yourself well | Illustration by Tricia Seibold
3. Be a TV Personality
Look straight into your camera, not the screen. Wear clothing that is neutral in color (no plaids or stripes). Light yourself well and from above. Be mindful of what appears behind you in the background. Invest in a good microphone.
4. Be Standing
Even though your audience cannot see you, stand when you present. This allows you to stay focused and use good presentation delivery skills such as belly breathing, vocal variety, and pausing.
5. Be Prepared
Practice delivering your presentation with your technology in advance of your talk. Make sure all of the features of the technology work. Record your practice using the recording feature of your tool. Watch and listen to learn what works and what you can improve.
6. Be Assisted
Have someone available to deal with technical issues and to field email/text questions. Also, if you have multiple remote audience members in one location, be sure to pick one of them to be your “eyes and ears.” Ask them to queue up questions and facilitate discussion on your behalf.
7. Be Specific
Ask pointed questions to avoid too many people answering at once. For example, rather than ask, “Are there any questions?” try “Who has a question about the solution I provided?” Set a ground rule that people state their names prior to speaking.
Imagine your audience | Illustration by Tricia Seibold
8. Be Synchronized
Transitions are critical. You must connect what you just said to what is coming next when you move from point to point. Transitions between topics and slides are good opportunities to get people reengaged to your talk.
9. Be Connected
Imagine your audience even though you can’t see them. You can place pictures of audience members behind your camera so you can look at people as you present.
10. Be Early
Encourage your audience to access your call or webinar in advance of the start time so you can iron out any technical issues in advance and get them familiar with the technology.
Matt Abrahams is a Stanford GSB organizational behavior lecturer, author, and communications coach.
For media inquiries, visit the Newsroom .
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With fully customizable slides, text blocks, data visualization tools, photos and icons to help tell your story, you can easily build creative and cool presentations as quickly as you need. Build the perfect slides with Visme’s easy-to-use presentation editor.
Customize every aspect of your presentation with your own images and text
Choose from over a million images, thousands of icons, dozens of charts and data widgets to visualize information in an engaging way. Apply a color scheme to all your slides with one click. Add animation effects, transitions, interactivity, pop-ups, rollovers and third-party content such as live websites and social media feeds.
Record yourself presenting
- Record your screen, audio, and video, or switch off your camera for an audio-only presentation.
- Present asynchronously on your own time, at your own pace. Let your colleagues watch it at their convenience.
More Great Features of the Presentation Maker
Share Your Presentation
Visme makes it easy to create and share presentations online. Our presentation software allows you to present online by generating a link to access your presentation, share privately by sending a password protected link to friends and colleagues, or even turn your presentation into a lead generation tool by requiring email sign-in before viewing.
What is a Presentation?
A presentation is a sequence of slides that tell a story or teach an audience about a topic. These are often used in business as ways of demonstrating something and in the classroom as teaching aids. While PowerPoint long dominated the presentation industry, Visme’s free online presentation maker allows you to create even more beautiful and engaging content.
With Visme's engaging presentation maker, you can start with a template, dive into one of our themes with various slide ideas, or mix and match slides from different templates to create your own masterpiece.
Use the presentation maker to take the trouble out of presentation design.
Creating a slide deck for an important presentation can take several hours, if not days. Our free presentation maker provides a searchable slide library with 900+ layouts that you can fully customize. With so many options, you can easily find the exact slides that you need instead of searching for the right template or building a slide design from scratch.
More Than a Presentation Maker
Visme’s online presentation tools allow you to create an interactive online presentation that will blow your audience away. Add interactive elements, animate your slides and create a presentation that will have your viewers talking for days to come.
MAKE IT ENGAGING
Create interactive presentations with popup and rollover effects that allow your viewer to interact with your design to learn more information.
VISUALIZE YOUR DATA
Charts & graphs.
Share data, statistics, simple numbers and more in your presentation slides with Visme’s easy-to-use charts, graphs and other data widgets.
BEAUTIFY YOUR CONTENT
Stock photos & graphics.
Choose from over a million stock photos, icons, illustrations, characters, lines, shapes and more to create an engaging presentation design.
Make Presentations in 5 Steps
Whether you’re creating a presentation to pitch your business, to inform your industry or to update your team or supervisors, you want your slideshow to be equal parts beautiful and informative. Visme makes it easy with our powerful presentation maker.
Mix and match template styles and slide ideas, customize with your own ideas, insert design elements from our asset library, present online with presenter notes and more.
- Sign up for free or log into your Visme account and create a new project.
- Choose one of our beautiful themes under the Presentations content category or select a pre-designed presentation template.
- Add new slides from our theme library to help guide your presentation design.
- Customize text boxes, fonts, colors, photos, icons, charts, data visualization tools and so much more within your slides.
- Quickly and easily share or present your slideshow by clicking Share in the top navigation bar and viewing our share options.
How to Use the Presentation Maker
- Before creating your slide deck, make sure to create an outline with all the major points that you need to include within your presentation.
- Start creating your slides. You can easily use our free presentation slides and templates to help you create a well-designed and informative presentation.
- Easily replace any image with millions of free images within our editor, as well as diagrams, charts, icons, illustrations and maps.
- Insert your own text by clicking on any text box and typing in your own information (or you can simply copy and paste it from your outline).
- Our free presentation maker online also comes with built-in animation effects. Add transitions, audio, pop-ups, rollovers and interactive buttons to wow your audience.
- Use the Presenter View to rehearse your delivery. Use the timer to make sure you don’t go over the allotted time. You can easily add presenter notes that only you will see while you present.
- Generate a public or private URL to share with anyone or embed your slide deck on your website or blog by clicking the Share button in the Visme editor.
- Download as an editable PowerPoint or in HTML5 to keep all of your animations and interactivity intact for offline presenting.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Click the button at the bottom of the page and quickly create your free Visme account by signing up with your email address, Gmail or Facebook.
It's completely free to create, share and download your presentation. If you want to download it as a printable PDF or interactive HTML5 file (to conserve animation effects), then you can upgrade to a Standard plan.
Yes! You can quickly create animated presentations by adding transitions that automatically animate the entrance of elements onto your slides, or you can animate elements one by one.
Absolutely. You can add pop-ups, rollovers and hyperlinks and embed videos, maps, surveys, as well as any other third-party content.
Simply generate a private or public URL that can be viewed from any browser. You can also download your presentation as an HTML5 file and present from any browser without internet connection.
Click on the Create button in the left sidebar of your editor to explore 900+ slide layouts. Search for the exact slides you need and drag and drop the desired ones onto the right panel.
Your presentations deserve to be beautiful and so does the rest of your content
Create visual brand experiences whether you are a seasoned designer or a total novice.
- Academic Skills
- Learning online
Virtual presentation skills are important at both university and in the workplace. This resource provides tips on presenting to camera, including how to support your message using voice and body language techniques and maximise the impact of your visuals.
You may be asked to speak in a range of online contexts including:
- a presentation or to one or more people (live or recorded)
- a tutorial, seminar or group discussion
- an oral assessment, e.g. respond to questions from a teacher or a panel
- an interview (great practice for the post-uni world!)
This resource provides simple strategies to increase your confidence in presenting online. One key thing to remember is that the content (what you say), delivery (how you say it, e.g. voice) and visuals (how it looks) are all equally as important.
Presenting to camera
Make sure the audience can see your face. Look at the webcam lens or phone camera as much as you can to give the individual participants the feeling you are talking directly to them. This can be quite powerful. If it’s set up right, this should look like you are sitting just across a table from the audience.
Tip : Light yourself from the side, not behind – e.g. don’t present with a window behind you (too much glare).
Using bod y lan g uage
Even though the audience can’t see as much of you as in a face-to-face presentation, they will still see your face/head, shoulders and some of your hand gestures. It’s important that you use:
- Positive facial expressions : look interested, passionate – if you are, they will be too!
- Eye contact : keep your focus on the camera, look at notes occasionally if you need to.
- Hand gestures : use for emphasis and to support the verbal message.
E.g. The first [hold up your forefinger] reason we do this … The second reason [hold up two fingers]
Tip: Position your device so the audience can see your head and shoulders, your hand gestures and the visual you are using (e.g. slides).
Using vo ice te chniq ues
When speaking online, your voice is really important because it is the focus of the audience’s attention. Keep in mind:
- Pace : speak slightly slow, rather than too fast.
- Pauses : use short half-second stops between phrases to help the audience keep up with you.
- Tone and stress : vary your tone (more than in daily conversation) and stress key words for emphasis. This will help to maintain audience interest.
The first and most important reason we do this [pause] is that it’s proven to be effective and affordable. [pause] The second reason…
Tip : record yourself doing your presentation and watch it with the sound on to get a sense of your voice.
Watch it again, this time with the sound off – that will let you see what you are doing with your body, expressions and gestures.
Keepin g the message clear
A lot of clarity is achieved by using the voice techniques above, but you can also keep the message clear by:
- Using simple, direct language
- Using plain English (minimise jargon and idiom)
- Staying on topic (going off topic not only wastes time, but takes focus away from your key message)
- Using signal language to help listeners follow your logic and to emphasise key points
Examples of signal language
The first section of my presentation deals with... The second … Finally ,...
Let me repeat , as it’s really a central part of what I’m talking about, …
There are three clear reasons we did this. First, …
This is important because...
An example of what I’m talking about is …
To illustrate ...
In conclusion , it’s clear that …
To conclude ...
Using eff ective grap hics
Effective graphics and visuals support, rather than distract from, your message.
- Keep it simple. If you’re using slides with full-screen presenter view, make sure the screen is fully visible and not partially blocked by your face.
- Minimise information –as a rough guide aim for no more than 7-8 text or visual elements per slide.
- Try to minimise the number of slides you have – this will help you to avoid rushing.
- Consider what each graphic adds to your presentation - does it evoke emotion, explain something more clearly (for example a chart) or to illustrate something? If it serves no purpose, remove it.
- You don't need to narrate your actions (e.g. " I'll just move to the next slide. ") - just do it; move to the next slide and continue the presentation
Tip : make sure each of your visuals supports your key points
Pre-perfo rmance ch e c ks
- Is your background or clothing distracting? Wear plain pattern clothes rather than stripes, spots or checks.
- If possible, try presenting in front of a solid, plain background, e.g. a wall.
- Have a look what’s behind you when presenting – we don’t want to see your washing!
- Tell anyone who might interrupt (e.g. housemates) what’s going on, so you won’t be disturbed.
- Check the tech – does the microphone work? Is your wifi working? Do you know how to hotspot on your phone if wifi isn’t working?
Fi nal ti p
The keys for great presentations in any context are planning and practice . Know what you are going to say and how you are going to say it then prepare through practice. Get feedback on your voice, body language, message clarity and visuals.
Explore all resources
- Collection of resources
Speaking and presenting
Build your confidence speaking in tutorials or presenting your research by putting these strategies into practice.
Strategies for collaborating online and getting the most out of discussions and webinars.
Looking for one-on-one advice?
Get tailored advice from an Academic Skills adviser by booking an individual appointment, or get quick advice from one of our Academic Writing Tutors in our online drop-in sessions.
Get one-on-one advice
Online Presentations Guide
- Powerpoint Tips
- Online Presentation Tips
Prepare for Your Presentation
- Organize your thoughts . Start with an outline and develop good transitions between sections.
- Have a strong opening. Why should the audience listen to you? One good way to get their attention is to start with a question, whether or not you expect an answer.
- Define terms early . If you are using terms that may be new to the audience, introduce them early in your presentation. Once an audience gets lost in unfamiliar terminology, it is extremely difficult to get them back on track.
- Finish with a bang . Find one or two sentences that sum up the importance of your research. How is the world better off as a result of what you have done?
- Design PowerPoint slides to introduce important information. Consider doing a presentation without PowerPoint. Then consider which points you cannot make without slides. Create only those slides that are necessary to improve your communication with the audience.
- Time yourself . Do not wait until the last minute to time your presentation. You only have 5 minutes to speak, so you want to know, as soon as possible, if you are close to that limit.
- Create effective notes for yourself. Have notes that you can read. Do not write out your entire talk; use an outline or other brief reminders of what you want to say. Make sure the text is large enough that you can read it from a distance.
- Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice your presentation, the more comfortable you will be in front of an audience. Practice in front of a friend or two and ask for their feedback. Record yourself and listen to it critically. Make it better and do it again.
Source: Oral Presentation Tips , GVSU.
- Next: Powerpoint Tips >>
- Last Updated: Mar 16, 2022 10:14 AM
- URL: https://davenport.libguides.com/papers
Six Ways to Prepare for an Online Presentation
- Public Speaking
- Remote Teams
I was preparing for two presentations recently.
The first was for a group of three in which we discussed a presentation that they were to deliver to a prospective client. The second was to a group of at least 40 who were to listen to me speak about what I am doing to stay relevant in this surreal environment. Each presentation required a different level of mindset, preparation and delivery, yet both had one common thread – they were delivered online.
Even for someone who specialises in public speaking, presenting online has its own set of challenges, and with so many of us migrating towards online platforms to stay connected, presenting online is crucial for getting our message across. There are similarities with presenting to a live audience and the preparation / delivery process is much the same; albeit, with a few tweaks that start with your mindset.
Working from home can, for some, induce a sense of relaxation. We can get caught in a trap of feeling lazy and consequently approach our presentations in the same way. Do not allow yourself to get caught up in this and prepare your mind. Remind yourself that the way you present, the way you speak and the way you approach the event will determine how well it goes – and your appearance can remedy a part of this mindset.
Just because you are speaking to a camera, doesn’t mean you are not entirely seen, so have a think about how you show up and how you look. You wouldn’t want to look undressed and lethargic in front of a live audience – and speaking online IS speaking to a live audience, sometimes to a global audience.
You may have heard the phrase, “picture the crowd naked” (which by the way, is not good advice!), but don’t reverse it! Make sure you are wearing pants and other relevant cover-up necessities, so people don’t see you near-naked. I’ve witnessed people reaching for a document or a glass of water and in doing so, showing me their ‘home comforts’ which led me to question how serious they were about the presentation. How you dress is all a part of your preparation which, like a live presentation, is just as important online.
Before your online event, prepare yourself just like you would a real-life presentation. Understand your subject, your intent and your desired objectives. Do your research, have an agenda and have a plan for what you want to say. If you are presenting to a new audience, find out who is joining the event by looking at the registrations and familiarise yourself with who everybody is. The other part is being aware of how you present and everything else around you.
One of the things you need to be aware of is your body language. Do you sit or do you stand? How far away from your screen do you sit? What’s too close? It’s also difficult to gauge the audience body language and therefore worthwhile checking in with everyone intermittently to ensure they are following you – especially with those who have no video. When presenting to small groups, it’s important to check in with anybody who hasn’t responded and for longer sessions, it’s a good idea to give everybody a break to relax their eyes, otherwise you and the audience may lose focus.
You need to also be aware of where you are looking. Depending on what you use (laptop, camera or iPhone for example) you may need to adapt to your tech to maintain eye contact. For recording videos, you have to look and focus into the camera lens (not the screen) – the little red dot on your device. Be aware of what you do too – remember if you pick your nose, yawn or roll your eyes – people can see you!
This sense of awareness should also extend into your own environment.
As we are now working from our place of comfort, we can be oblivious to our surroundings. Check what’s behind and around you, and if you need to clean up your surroundings. Do you need to move certain objects and reposition things? One way to check is to do a test run – set up your laptop / phone and see what your background looks like.
It’s also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the environment. Familiarise yourself with your chair, get a drink and place it somewhere easily accessible; if necessary adjust your screen so you feel comfortable with its position. Make sure you have everything you need within distance, so you feel totally at ease with your environment – this includes understanding the system you are presenting from.
6. System Check
A system check is vital to mitigate any issues. Check your connection, your sound / microphone, your camera, slides and PPT. You can upload your slides and screen share to talk through them on your presentation platforms (feel free to reach out if you’re unsure how to do this).
Check how long your software facility will allow you to present. Most of us would be familiar with Zoom, which is great for one on one calls, however they have a limit of 40 minutes for larger meetings. The last thing you want is to be on an important presentation and you get cut off!
Once you are prepared, checked and ready, it’s time to get comfortable being slightly uncomfortable! Whether it’s to three or forty, the basic principles of speaking to a live audience still apply – know your content, keep it simple and deliver it with confidence.
Think of this as practice – while we are in isolation use this time presenting online to hone your skills to improve and gain some more experience to have a better understanding of mindset, preparation and delivery for when you are next asked to present to a live audience.
Shil Shanghavi Public Speaking and Presentation Specialist
If you are interested in learning more about Shil and his workshops on Essemy, please visit this link .
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