- Virtual presentations come with all the same kinds of challenges that face-to-face presentations do.
You must be well prepared, with a well-designed program, the right visual aids, stories and anecdotes, a strong opening that hooks them right away, and lots of practice to ensure that your delivery is confident and smooth.
Presenting to virtual audiences also has its own, unique set of challenges -- and I’m not even talking about the technology that's involved in these types of virtual speaking platforms (like which webinar software and tools to use)!
Many of these challenges stem from the fact that you cannot see or make eye contact with your audience members. It’s much harder to “read” them, to know if you are keeping them engaged or not, or to tell when what you’re doing isn’t working and it’s time to switch gears. Depending on the technology you are using, you might not even know if they are clicking off and wandering away.
So, how do you make sure that you connect with an online audience, so that they can engage and get the most from your presentation?
Here are 7 Strategies for Ensuring Your Virtual Presentations Connect:
- Speak with a smile! Yes, it sounds a bit ridiculous, but please don’t discard the idea out of hand. It might be the most important of all my tips. Of course, no one can see you, but believe it or not, they will hear it in your voice and respond accordingly. This is also a fantastic tip to remember if you ever give a radio interview.
- Remember to take the focus off yourself, and speak to your listeners' needs and interests. Remember your attendees' main question: WIIFM? (What’s in it for me?).
- For smaller groups, when you engage your audience members in conversation, speak to them by name, if possible. This immediately ups the level of personal connection, and not just for that one person you are speaking to. It makes your presentation sound more like a dialogue vs. monologue.
- Speak with enthusiasm. You might have to amp up your normal speaking style ever so slightly. You don’t want to sound hyper, so keep your voice at a level volume. Speaking with genuine enthusiasm for your topic and your listeners will go a long way in combatting the physical distance between you and your audience.
- 5. Tweak your pronouns. Use the word “we” instead of “you.” It’s much more inclusive, and again, creates more of a feeling of a dialogue than just one person speaking “at” a bunch of other people.
- Thank your attendees for being there. Unless it’s a work-mandated presentation, there are many other things that they could be doing. Thank them in the beginning of the presentation, and again at the end.
- Have a good time! This relates right back to tip #1. If you are having fun, your audience members will be able to relax, too. Remember, a relaxed audience is a more receptive audience!
Feedback is vital after any sort of online presentation. Have a feedback questionnaire already prepared and ready to e-mail to all of the participants at the close of your presentation -- and actually ask them to please fill it out. Make it easy on your audience by keeping this form short (10 or less questions). The chances of your attendees slogging their way through 20 questions is slim to none.
Virtual presentations are here to stay. So, you'd better understand how to effectively connect with these remote audiences. Need help? BRODY's program "The e-Vantage: Strategies for Delivering Content Virtually" can ensure that your next webinar is successful. Contact us for more information.