Foster High Engagement During Your Next Virtual Presentation With These 4 Steps

It’s no secret that virtual presentations are here to stay, which is why it’s important to rethink your strategy for delivering an engaging presentation. Drive home your points by following these tips.

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You might have upgraded your tech, your home, and your workflows to adapt to remote work. But have you updated your presentation skills?

Delivering a top-notch virtual presentation requires the ability to navigate the challenges of being online. For instance, how will you overcome the inability to read your audience members’ body language? Or ensure that you don’t talk for half an hour only to find out your audio was on the fritz?

Remote video presentations deserve thoughtful planning. I love to use Prezi Video (here’s an example) and use them for most of my virtual gigs. Ace your next one by following these key steps:

1. Break the ice.

Think back to your last in-person keynote event. The speaker probably didn’t dive into the meat of the speech right away. Instead, you were likely greeted with a few ice breakers. These helped you form your first impression and hopefully enticed you to keep listening.

When you’re virtual, you might be tempted to launch into your presentation right away. After all, isn’t that why everyone is in attendance? That’s the primary reason, but people still want to form an opinion and connection with you. They need to see if you’re worth their trust. Therefore, work on building bonds with attendees.

If your presentation is short, you can ask everyone to introduce themselves. Take physical and mental notes about what people say so you can refer to applicable items during your speech: “Because you’re a marketer, Matt, you understand the value of metrics.” Ideally, this part of your presentation should be brief, but it should also put everyone at ease right from the start.

2. Create visuals that count.

We’ve all had the dreadful experience of sitting through boring slideshows. When you’re on a video call, your slides matter even more. Remember: Everyone’s looking at the slide deck as you’re talking. If all you do is recite what’s on the deck, you’re not giving a value-added presentation — and you’ll probably feel more nervous. On the other hand, knowing your visuals are stellar can give you an enormous confidence boost, according to some research.

An excellent tip for using slides is to augment your speech. Think pictures, graphs, and maybe even a funny meme or GIF. Your slides should serve as ways to enhance what you’re saying, not just repeat your words.

Consequently, go through every slide for your presentation numerous times. Ask yourself tough questions, such as “Does this image add anything? Am I just trying to fill up space?” When in doubt, ditch any visuals that don’t add benefits to the overall presentation.

3. Solicit audience feedback.

Repeat this often: The chat function is your friend when you’re giving an online presentation. It’s the fastest, most direct way to interact with everyone in the room. Plus, people like to be able to share their ideas, opinions, and questions.

Many speakers like to pause every five minutes or so to ask for chat responses. However, you can use the chat in other ways, too. Maybe you want to take a poll on a topic, which can give you real-time information to use during your speech.

To be sure, it can be hard to focus on the chat and your presentation. So, consider enlisting the help of someone else to monitor the chatter. A monitor can also turn off the chat if topics begin to move away from the subject at hand.

4. Follow-up with participants.

It’s a harsh reality, but even a rockstar presentation is bound to become a memory too quickly. Bob Marsh, chief revenue officer at Bluewater, explains that participants will forget 90% of what you’ve said within seven days of the presentation. Marsh has a plan to counteract this problem:

“The most straightforward solution is to send out an email within 24 hours,” he writes. The email can thank them for attending and reiterate the most important items that were mentioned in your presentation. If the meeting was meant for prospecting, then you might want to pick up the phone and chat with each attendee about next steps.”

Follow-ups are some of the most integral parts of forming ongoing business relationships. Plus, they can help you expand your network and earn other online speaking engagements. Emails aren’t the only way to stay in contact. You can try sending texts or messages on social media sites as well. If you’re planning on giving another presentation on a related subject, invite your attendees to sign up. Alternatively, send a poll to attendees to measure the effectiveness of your speech.

Virtual presentations are here to stay. Just don’t assume that they follow the same pattern as their in-person counterparts. Their unique qualities must be considered to ensure you drive home your points in the most productive, appealing way.

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