6 Tips for Giving the Best Virtual Presentation
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to shut down in-person activities and connect primarily online, the desire to engage online-only continued to grow.
This opened up the door to so many new, incredible opportunities, including more chances to become a virtual presenter and public speaker.
Previously, a field where standing on a physical stage in front of an in-person audience was the norm, today, giving a virtual presentation is one of the most common and effective ways to speak to your audience.
Like many new opportunities, though, presenting virtually also comes with its own challenges. For example, while it may be easier to gather an audience virtually, keeping their attention online can be extremely difficult.
Before you start your virtual sessions on topics you’re passionate about, make sure you use these tips to keep your audience entertained and wanting to come back for more.
Virtual Presentations vs. In-Person Presentations
While you may not have a captive audience in the same way you do with in-person presentations, virtual presentations have quite a few benefits.
For instance, they’re convenient for both the presenter and the audience to attend. Neither you nor your attendees need to make travel arrangements to connect with each other.
This vastly increases your potential to reach a much wider audience. Since the limitations of geography are removed, you can reach a worldwide audience who simply needs an internet connection to tune in to your speaking engagement.
Virtual presentations are also more cost-effective. They don’t require sophisticated AV equipment, venue fees, decor, furniture rentals, or food and beverage costs. All they need is you, the audience, and your presentation skills.
You might find your fear of public speaking dissipate through virtual presenting, too. If presenting in front of an in-person crowd makes you feel intimidated, you may have a better time finding your confidence and comfort behind a screen and virtual audience.
Speaking to the camera in the comfort of your familiar surroundings can help you feel like you have an intimate audience of one instead of many.
6 Successful Tips for Your Next Virtual Presentation
Preparing well for your virtual presentation ahead of time will give you confidence and poise once you’re in front of your audience. Use these six tips to master your public speaking skills before you launch your next virtual presentation.
1. Set Up a Clean Shot
Even though you don’t have to worry about booking a venue for a virtual presentation, you should still plan to set up in a quiet, well-lit area.
Make sure the place where you’ll be doing your presentation is clean and free from distractions. Let your coworkers, family, or roommates know you’ll be giving a presentation so they know not to disturb you.
If your background is messy or loud, your audience will be more focused on what’s going on behind you than what you’re actually saying. Keep it clean, simple, and pleasing to the eye.
To help see what your audience will see, set up your camera so that you’re not too close or too far from it. The ideal shot frames your face, neck, and shoulders. If you are able to stand for your presentation, it could also help you maintain good posture and give you the opportunity to use hand gestures when appropriate.
Good lighting will also ensure your online presentation keeps your audience engaged. Cast lighting on your face instead of behind you.
If available to you, natural lighting is best. Consider opening the blinds and facing the window for your presentation, and pay attention to any shadows your lighting casts to eliminate distractions. Just don’t stand with a window behind you. Having a light source behind will make it difficult for your audience to see you.
Now that your shot is all set, practice making eye contact with your online audience. Speaking into a camera instead of in front of people can be difficult and awkward. Practice speaking and looking into your camera lens to ensure your audience sees you as if you’re looking right at them on their screen.
Ensure you’re framed the right way and place your camera at eye level. To make online public speaking even easier, try putting a picture of a person or two eyes staring back near your lens if it helps.
Once your shot is set up, you can also turn off any self-view you have set up so you’re not tempted to look at yourself while presenting.
2. Get Familiar With Your Technology
When giving online presentations, you rely on fast, reliable internet to carry your message and voice all around the world. So make sure you have a good internet connection.
If your internet is slow or cuts in and out, you run the risk of frustrating and losing your audience due to a poor user experience.
Another technology tip to consider is to ensure you mute your audience upon entry to the presentation. This will prevent distracting background noises and accidental conversations or noise during your important talk.
With that said, also be sure your own distractions and noises are removed.
Put your phone on vibrate, turn off notifications on your phone and computer — except for those pertaining to your meeting — and place your technology on a surface away from your setup so your audience won’t hear it if it happens to make a sound.
Becoming familiar with the features your hosting software offers will help you eliminate technology distractions faster, as well as improve your presentation experience.
Knowing how to share your screen, read comments, unmute participants, break participants into discussion groups, run polls, and so on will make your presentation run smoothly and keep your audience engaged.
Additionally, consider having a co-presenter run the technical aspects of your presentation so you can focus more on presenting.
3. Set Expectations for Questions Early
Audience participation is a key part of successful public speaking. It’s important to answer questions the audience may have, but timing is also essential.
Have a plan for answering questions that are set up ahead of time. Before jumping right into your virtual presentation, explain how your audience can ask questions and how they should expect them to be answered.
Again, co-presenters can be very helpful in this regard, since they can be answering questions in the chatbox for you. Make sure your ground rules specify what types of questions will be answered and when.
Technical issues, however, such as not being able to hear or not receiving a download should be addressed immediately. Other questions can wait for breaks or pauses to be answered so your audience is still listening to you instead of reading the chatbox.
Don’t forget to ask your audience questions as well, and let them respond in the chat!
This is an important way to keep participants engaged during a virtual presentation, where losing their focus is much easier than during a live presentation.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice
Know your material and have your presentation well planned out so you can give a confident, impactful presentation. An important element of this is to speak about something you’re passionate about.
Put your camera on video and take some practice runs speaking into the camera. Then, go back and watch your recorded sessions to critique yourself and improve for the live presentation. Consider asking a friend, family member, or colleague to give you honest, constructive feedback, as well.
Remember to check the following while you practice:
- How’s the lighting?
- Are you looking at the audience?
- Are you smiling and relaxed?
- Do you show that you care about your audience?
- Are you an expert on your topic?
Don’t forget to practice the technical aspects of virtual public speaking too. Know how to split your screen or use two screens so you can have your presentation software open, the chatbox and participants in view, and your documents or slides accessible at the same time.
5. Close with a Bang!
At the end of your presentation, deliver a powerful, memorable closing to help further gain trust as a presenter and drive your points home.
As an online presenter, your goal is to deliver valuable information, engage your audience and motivate them to take action — which includes coming back for more of your content.
Ways to end your virtual presentation
The opening and closing lines of your speech will often be the ones your audience will remember most. Make sure your main points don’t get lost with a closing that falls flat. Here are three of the best ways to close your virtual presentation with a bang:
- Close with a story. Recap your talk by telling a story that illustrates what you’ve shared with your audience. This will give them a tangible example of how to apply your principles. Likewise, you can end with an inspirational quote to motivate your audience to take action.
- Always end your speech with a call to action. Make it clear what you want your audience’s next steps to be, and deliver your request with enthusiasm and confidence.
- Make it apparent that you’re done. Avoid ending with, “Well that covers it, thank you for coming.” After you deliver your call to action, make a bold statement that your presentation has ended instead of allowing it to drag on.
Let your audience know you’ll follow up with any lingering questions by email. Smile warmly into the camera as you end your speech. Allow some silence and discipline yourself to refrain from fidgeting, then disconnect the presentation software.
6. Provide a Follow-up Destination
The beauty of giving a virtual presentation is that your audience is already in front of a computer. Utilize that and point them to your website or another follow-up to continue reaping the benefits of your talk.
You can also take the opportunity to open up a future Q&A session on your social media page or group.
Follow up by sending a recording to those who signed up to attend your speech. This will help you establish your reputation and grow your audience as you become a motivational public speaker.
Start Your Best Virtual Presentation Yet!
Use these tips to give your best virtual presentation yet and connect with more people online, anywhere in the world.
To learn more about how to succeed as a virtual public speaker, check out my free guide!
About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.