Key areas to focus on when presenting online

I’ve just wrapped up a coaching project, working with clients presenting online at a national conference.

We learnt a lot about the small and big differences between the live and virtual environments – here are just a few brief insights to help you when you’re next presenting online.

What works – design phase

Practice

The presenter that really nailed it did a full practice session with me online beforehand. This meant that she:

  • Knew what her presenting environment would be like on the day and could identify any issues to be aware of
  • Could test if her key messages got through
  • Was able to go into her session confidently and calm

What works – delivery phase

Presenting whilst standing up.

This helps your breathing and stops you from slouching at your desk. Importantly it gives you a little bit of space to move within your environment, to use hand gestures  etc. which can assist you in ‘visually’ telling a story within your presentation.

Opening with strategies that engage your audiencePresenting online

Use open loop questions to pose a question or even a challenge to your audience. E.g. “if you’re working in a community development role, try and think of a least one way that this presentation can help you in your role.”

Leverage your slides

You may have noticed that slides can appear slightly blurred in an online environment. To help manage this:

  • Limit the amount of text or data (three items is plenty)
  • Use icons, images or infographics
  • Briefly summarise the key insights from your slides

Areas to be wary of

Hardware

If you have a PC – use it! The larger screen size is easier to for you to navigate and mostly you’ll have better processing speed.

Do your best to get hold of a good quality microphone or webcam to enhance the audience experience and keep them focused on your message, rather than altering their volume to try and hear you.

Use of physical space

  • Be familiar with your surroundings and know what background noises may occur. Close all doors and disconnect/silence phones.
  • Always talk to the camera – not the screen!
  • Try and be in a space with some soft furnishings to minimise echo effects from noise bouncing off hard surfaces.

Rehearse

This is even more important when you’re co-presenting. I’ve seen people fall into the ‘easy’ trap of just rocking up, thinking they can simply sit in front of their computer and read their presentation. This is not acceptable!

If you are co-presenting, be 100% ruthlessly clear on who is doing what in your session and exactly how long each presenter will take. Discuss this right from the start of the design process. If your co-presenters aren’t willing to do this, give some serious consideration as to whether or not it’s worth proceeding.

Gremlins

Log on to your session early and check your tech. This includes checking your internet speed, which should be at least 2.5Mbs (up/down). Close every single app on your computer and ask all other online users in your location to go easy on the streaming etc. for the duration of your presentation

Summary

These are the tip of the iceberg basics for presenting online, which I can go into further with you via either group or individual coaching sessions.

If you’re doing facilitation work and want some guidance in the online space, Cynthia Mahoney and I are kicking off a four module program to help you be at your best.

 

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Andrew Huffer

Andrew Huffer has over 25 years experience in working with organisations, businesses, managers and communities and at a state, national and international level. He designs and delivers specialist engagement processes, with a focus on facilitating open decision making processes and skill development of clients. He has delivered presentations and workshops at a number of state, national and international conferences.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. John Denton says

    All very good points Andrew. It’s easy to become complacent and not do the “rehearsing” and other checks. I know I fell into this trap recently! After many, many Zoom sessions I failed to setup early enough and didn’t do some basic checks. After all, I’d done it a dozen or more times before. When it was too late I realised I didn’t have the lightings set properly and my computer was running slow. So people, listen to what Andrew is saying, don’t be complacent and always use a checklist!

    • Andrew Huffer says

      Love the checklist John, along with providing ample time to get online! I’ve been caught out by MS updates when I hadn’t used my laptop for awhile – not pretty!

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