Thanks to the virus, video conferencing has gone viral. When so much of your success in business hangs on your ability to present effectively, knowing how to deliver great online presentations is now key.
Think of this blog as a ‘how to’ blueprint of the fundamentals of presenting online, and an ideas vault that will give you a ton of practical suggestions to take your online presenting performance to the next level.
For online presentations to be successful there are 3 core criteria. For every one of your online presentations, the audience:
- needs to understand the value
- must be engaged during the session
- must see the ROI for their time.
Sometimes you are required to present information in order to inform. Other presentation scenarios can be characterised as ‘high-stakes’ presentations when it is critical for you to engage, motivate or gain commitment.
There are 12 areas that are critical habits for both face to face and remote presentations. I have outlined these in my guide to the fundamentals of effective presenting – The 12 Habits of Exceptional Presenters.
There are three key differences between presenting face to face and presenting online.
- There is less focus on performance
A key coaching issue I often see with face to face presenting is lack of confidence or imposter syndrome.
Online, this confidence issue appears to be reduced. People are presenting from the safety of their own home, and that seems to relax them. There is reduced anxiety and people tend to be more comfortable. The presenter is often only available as a small window in the top right-hand corner, so a lot of people like the fact that the focus is less on them and more on the technology and the message.
- You must focus even more on engaging your audience
The average adult attention span has plummeted from 12 minutes a decade ago to just 5 minutes now.
Here are 5 Lockdown Presenting Online tips that you can use immediately to engage online audiences.
Pre-Suasion is what savvy communicators do before delivering a message to get it accepted. It was coined by Dr. Robert Cialdini. You’ll remember the maxim from Sun Tzu, the military strategist: ‘Every battle is won before it is fought’.
So, what can you do to pre-suade before an online presentation?
- Send out a teaser
- Send out your agenda beforehand
- Have a snappy title
- Identify key decision makers and lobby them in advance
- Start with a spike
You have 8 seconds to grab the audience’s attention. You need a quick, clear way to convey your thoughts to your audience. Use a spike.
A spike is a sentence or phrase that gets to the heart of your presentation. For example, a mobile communications director said to an investment group: ‘50% of the world’s population have neither made nor received a phone call’. I often use: ‘presenters are made, not born’. This blog post outlines more advice on creating an interesting start to your presentation.
- Focus on messaging and remember the power of 3
Shorten your presentations and remember the Power of 3 – your audience will retain three key points rather than many, so structure your content around that. We are surrounded by 3s in branding, messaging, and it is embedded deep in our culture. Quick examples:
Nike: ‘Just do it’
The Holy Trinity, ABC, Location location location
‘Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives’.
- Less emphasis on body language online so focus on words and voice
Most online presentations are delivered sitting down, the shot is usually of your top half and the focus in mainly on the face and your eyes and the audience may not even pick up on gestures. And of course, there isn’t the eye contact, and therefore it is much tougher to pick up on visual clues from the audience. Pay more attention to the words that you are using and carefully consider your tone of voice as you are speaking.
- Devise audience activities
Find direct ways to engage the audience through specific activities. Utilise:
- The technology on your platform
- Polls to identify what people think
- Breakout options
- Your slides need to be visual and easy to consume
Remember these are just aids, and not a script.
If it takes more than 3 seconds to determine the message of a slide, it’s too complicated. The audience remembers pictures more than words – this is the picture superiority effect. When a person is told or reads something, 72 hours later they only remember 10%. When images or diagrams are included this retention number jumps to 65%.
In my book The Financial Times Guide to Business Training I started with: ‘Business training doesn’t work’. A spike of course, and intentionally controversial. But, it’s true. Business training only works if people act. So, what are you going to do differently as a result of reading this blog?
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