The Four Pillars of Successful Web Presentations

Most people find giving presentations stressful enough, without the added complication of not being able to see the audience. But with the right preparation, an online presentation can be just as effective as an in-person one.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Use The Right Tool

Yes, you could ask everyone to get on a conference call and email them a PDF, but the reality is an online presentation is a completely different animal to an in-person one. If you want to keep listeners focused, at the very least you need some way of ensuring everyone is on the same page at the same time.

This means getting comfortable with software like Zoom or WebEx that allows you to share the screen with your slide deck, take questions via text messaging, hold interactive polls or even draw on a whiteboard.

These features might take a bit of getting used to but it’s worth the effort for a more professional and interactive experience.

And if you are using interactive tools, don’t assume your listeners know how to use them. A quick run-through at the beginning of the presentation will ensure people know how to interact with you when they want to – it will also help to ‘break the ice’ for anyone who might be less comfortable with the technology.

2. Adapt Your Slides

Simplicity is key for slide design in any presentation. It’s a simple fact that the more an audience is reading, the less they are listening – and this is even more pertinent when presenting online. Remember: an audience you can’t see is an audience that is more able (and likely) to put you on mute, have a side conversation or start doing something else.

In other words, you have to work harder to keep their interest.

On-screen movement helps to keep people engaged and hold audience attention. One simple trick is to build up your bullet points on-screen as you speak. This will ensure your audience follows each point as you make it and help them ‘stay in the moment’.

Another tip is to make graphics more interactive – consider building them section-by-section or pull out certain areas to indicate where viewers should be looking, and when. Including short, relevant video clips is another way to add variety and help sustain engagement throughout.

3. Encourage interaction

This seemingly obvious tip is one that’s very often ignored.

In a smaller group, you can ask your audience questions directly in the same way you would in person. Remember though: you’re more likely to solicit a response if you address individuals than if you send a question out to the group; people are cautious about speaking over one another, and that’s magnified in situations where visual cues are not there to help.

In larger groups, encourage participation with online chat, interactive polls or text-based Q&As. Be aware that you need to demonstrate you’re listening by acknowledging the questions coming in via the chat box. And be warned that when you ask for questions this way, you may get more than you can handle, so it might help to specify that you’ll only be taking one or two.

Whatever its size, every group will have different responses – some audiences are more interactive than others; some people are more interactive than others.

Likewise, the nods of agreement or smiles of recognition we rely upon as cues in an in-person presentations will be absent in a non-visual online presentation. Although, depending on the audience, you may get an emoji handclap.

4. Leverage Your Voice

When there’s no connection through eye contact or body language it’s more important than ever to work on connecting with the audience vocally. At the very least, you want to sound as though you’re speaking to people and not to the wall.

If you’re presenting with others in the room, make eye contact with them – it will help ensure you sound more conversational. If you’re alone, picture someone in the audience in your mind and imagine you’re speaking directly to them.

‘New slide, new energy’ is a good rule of thumb to help with vocal movement and bring more variety into your delivery. Here are some other tips for vocal variety:

  • Emphasise key words and numbers to ‘share the sense’.
  • Use contrasts of pitch when indicating different options.
  • Build in momentum if you’re coming up to an important point.
  • Speed up on transitions, when telling stories or giving examples.
  • Slow down on key messages to give them weight.

Just like an in-person presentation, an online one is as much about connection as it is about content. Considering what your listeners really want to know and delivering the information in a way that helps them understand and remember it is the key to success.

Want to know more?

If you’d like the skills to ensure your clients gain the best impression of you and your company in a remote setting, why not get in touch? Our one-to-one and group programmes will ensure you deliver your next online presentation with style and ease.