We all know that Virtual Presentations (Zoom, Teams, Webex etc) can be difficult as a presenter. Audiences can be easily distracted, zone out, keep working on other projects, and basically disengage from the Virtual Presentation.
As a professional speaking coach, I often get asked how I can better manage my Virtual Presentations so that my audience is involved, engaged, and participating from the start until the end of the presentation.
Honestly, it is hard, and you can’t please everyone all the time. You can increase your chances of having a successful virtual presentation by avoiding some of the common mistakes and pitfalls that we all see when people do Virtual Presentations. If you avoid these 6 common mistakes you will immediately be seen as a better Virtual Presenter.
- Camera positioned poorly
Let’s face it, up the nose is not the finest angle for anyone. Your best option is to position the camera such that it can be aimed down slightly at you. Deformed face results from being too near to the camera, so avoid being too close. And look at the camera, not your notes, script or your PowerPoint slides. Your audience is down the camera lens.
- Having poor lighting
Lighting is arguably the most crucial factor in looking good on camera. Sitting with a bright window behind them is one of the major errors people make when doing Virtual Presentations. The light behind you results in the camera underexposing and producing a dark silhouette. Your audience might not see you because it is too dark and there are shadows everywhere. Have your lighting in front of you, either natural light or some lights or studio lamps.
- Using distracting backgrounds
Visual learners will be distracted by things in the background that are unrelated to your presentation. A background with lots of books or family photos or other interesting art and pottery might be interesting to some but is distracting to others. You can use a virtual office background or blur the background to remove these distractions and help the audience stay focused on you.
- Having poor quality audio
They say that the most important thing about video and videoconferencing is the audio. Your audience will not understand your message clearly if you have poor-quality audio. Please invest in good quality audio equipment like a podcasting microphone or headset. You would not want your audio to be dropping out as that will require fixing and take away time from your presentation, which causes your audience to lose interest.
- Presenting in a room with unexpected disturbances
There are classic mistakes on YouTube, where politicians have had their children crawl in the middle of a live TV interview. There’s another one where a female presenter has had her husband walk past the door in his underwear during a live presentation.
To prevent these unexpected disturbances, ensure the following before you begin your presentation:
- Close the doors so no one will be able to enter the room where you are presenting
- Have no one in the room with you, to avoid having someone walk by during your online event
- Put a sign on your door that says “Live Recording” or “Busy”, so people know not to knock and enter.
- Failing to engage the audience
Conversing and interacting with your audience is hard when it comes to virtual presentations. By including interactivity every 5 to 6 minutes to engage the audience with questions, polls, and comment requests through webcam or chat, you may stop the stampede for the virtual door.
It can be lonely presenting by yourself, but I assure you that if you give it some time, people will start to interact, participate and be engaged in your virtual presentation. Use games and polls to engage large audiences. Try Mentimeter, Kahoot, and Quizzes. You can use virtual whiteboards like Mira to keep the engagement going and to collaborate and involve everyone.
Virtual online presentations are becoming increasingly popular among professionals from all fields, but it is essential to follow certain guidelines to ensure that you communicate with your audience effectively and successfully. They are a little different to face-to-face presentations so you will want to prepare and plan accordingly and try and avoid these 6 common mistakes.
If you want to know more, Peter runs a 2-hour session on Improving Your Virtual Presentation Skills.