Six Truths and a Lie: Tips for Virtual Presenters
Virtual meetings are here to stay. Even when life resets to “normal,” the benefits of the virtual space will usher in a new wave of event experiences that include remote attendances, virtual keynotes and blended panel discussions. For company leaders and public speakers, this means getting very comfortable with your content and agile in delivery of key messages across new formats to ensure ideas are received, retained and adopted.
- Start with story. In the virtual space, content is key. And at the heart of good content is a compelling story. The best stories are not a series of chronological events or random anecdotes, but those that reveal insight and leave the audience wanting to know more.
- Encourage interaction. Virtual delivery allows for audience interaction in new ways. Utilizing the tools available, such as polling, chat functions, or Q&A submission, engages an audience and gives them incentive to stay attentive and participate.
- Keep it pithy. Refine your message to the most impactful stories and pertinent information. If you need detailed notes or lengthy explanations to tell a story — don’t tell it. Prioritize content that is familiar, both for you to deliver and for the audience to receive.
- Be more than a talking head. With many opportunities to further illustrate your message through videos, still images, graphic design and animation, think beyond the slide deck of bullet points and use creative production to enhance your visuals.
- Personalize your audience. A sea of video thumbnails hardly feels like an in-person audience. Picture a few key individuals and speak as though you’re presenting directly to them. Remember that real people are sitting on the other side of a screen and focus on why your content matters to them.
- Then practice again. Don’t underestimate the time involved in preparing for a virtual presentation. Without the bells and whistles of an in-person experience and the physical captivity, an audience is less forgiving. Your delivery should have the right tone, pace and energy to hold attention and create impact. Know your content well enough to deliver it without notes or minimal bullet points, so you can share it genuinely and reliably even in the event of a technology failure.
The lie. You are a subject matter expert and have been public speaking for years, you can review your notes then are good to go. This is the lie we have seen speakers tell themselves again and again since large virtual meetings began in 2020. When an unprepared speakers looks into a camera on a dark stage, instead of an audience, they stand like a deer in the headlights. They can become embarrassed and if they even have the luxury of a rehearsal, they often don’t have sufficient time to recover. Don’t let this be you.
A virtual presentation can be a powerful tool to reach a wide audience without the constraints of geography. As our virtual events and meetings continue to evolve over the next year, the potential to reach new people is exponential. The right mix of story-driven content, strong delivery and intentional use of the many attendee engagement tools available will capture and keep that audience’s attention, allowing your ideas to spread.