Six Tips for Effective Virtual Presentations

A woman giving a virtual presentation

“The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher”

 – Chinese Proverb

If we could pick one theme for 2020 so far, it would be “adapt.” COVID-19 has forced us to change how we approach nearly every aspect of our lives. For many, that’s meant moving events that would normally be live into a virtual space.

After a couple of months online, it should be obvious that nothing can replace the live experience. The yearning we all feel to get back to socializing and gathering tells us that interacting face-to-face is a deeply human need. And for that reason, we’re confident in the bright future of live events. When we are able to safely come together again at conventions, meetings and other venues, enthusiasm for these in-person interactions will translate to even better ROI.

Until then, virtual events are a way of adapting—a stop-gap that allows engagement to continue and investments to be salvaged. There are benefits to be sure: one is ease of tracking and measuring results. Even when live events return, experts think online components will stick around.

For now, many are still figuring out best practices for pivoting to virtual. If you find yourself presenting in front of your computer screen instead of a live audience, you might be nervous. The good news is that the fundamentals of a great presentation have not changed. With some adaptations, you can still engage your audience and make your message memorable.

Shorter is (Even) Better – Our running-time rule for live presentations is ten minutes at most. Attention spans are even shorter online. Shoot for eight minutes or less. For a crisp, compelling message, a good script writer is your best friend. Or consider an interview format with a professional moderator. Conversations hold attention better than long monologues.

Practice is (Even More) Important – Plan at least two rehearsals on the platform you’ll be using. The first should be a dry run to ensure your equipment is working correctly. The second should be a dress rehearsal. Get used to not having live audience feedback. Make sure that elements like background and camera angles are correct (see tips below). This is your chance to make sure you look and sound your best, so make the most of it!

Know How to Present Yourself – Audiences are used to a more casual look online, but there are some fundamentals to keep in mind:

– Make sure your background is uncluttered, free of inappropriate materials, and not open to through-traffic. A branded backdrop could be a good option.

– Position yourself so your upper body is framed, not too close to the screen and not too far away.

– The camera should capture you straight on, not from below.

– Lighting is especially important. Go for natural light, but not behind you (for example, don’t sit in front of a window.) To mitigate lighting issues, consider investing in a ring light.

– Dress professionally. Casual may be acceptable, but a ratty t-shirt won’t cut it. Wear simple, plain- colored clothing, avoiding stripes and other patterns.

– Audio is more important than ever, so don’t rely on your computer’s microphone or a phone connection. Go for a USB computer connected microphone or directional mic, if possible.

– Be energetic! Without live audience interaction, and with a limited ability to move around, it’s easy to let your energy level droop. Stay upbeat.

Have a Plan B – Glitches are a common drawback to virtual experiences. Your technology may fail. Your internet may cut out. Expect these things will happen and come up with a strategy for every one. Short, pre-recorded content “pods” can fill unexpected downtimes. Or a professional host can keep your audience entertained with banter while you get back up and running. Work closely with your broader team and partners to share resources, troubleshoot and back each other up behind the scenes.

Consider Pre-Recording  – Pre-recorded video can minimize unexpected interruptions and tech issues. Rather than doing your presentation live, consider a “hybrid,” where your presentation is recorded, and you host a live chat alongside it.

Seek Out a Pro – To make the very best impression, you can’t beat a professional presenter. They’re skilled at making messages memorable no matter the venue or format, and you might be surprised how affordable they are, especially without expenses like travel involved.

Our team at Moening Presentation Group includes script writers, video editors, content specialists, and professional presenters and hosts—everything you need to make your presentation the best it can be. Contact us to talk about how we can help you shine – virtually today and live tomorrow.