5 Virtual Presentation Tips for Presenting During COVID-19

virtual presentation tips

With nearly every state having issued a stay-at-home order for nonessential personnel in an effort to flatten the curve in the fight against coronavirus, much of the business world is working from home. Slack and Zoom notifications abound as parents attempt to juggle homeschooling with business calls. While virtual presentations are not a new concept, they might be new to you as you pivot to working from home. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you take your PowerPoint online.

1. Ask questions and keep an open dialogue.

When you present virtually, you likely can’t see your audience while you’re sharing your screen (and if you can, their faces are probably really tiny in the corner). You won’t know if Joe’s attention is more focused on his toddler jumping off the couch, or if Jane is utterly confused and doing an unconvincing “smile and nod.” So, check in and make sure everyone is on the same page and understanding the material, following along, and interested. Zoom has a chat feature that allows users to contact the presenter via message — make sure you’re checking to see if anyone is pinging you with a question or because your connection suddenly went downhill and they can’t hear you.

2. Make it clear to the audience what they should be looking at.

You may need to design things a bit differently so they are more easily recognizable as you use your voice to describe. Use different colors or larger images, spell out words rather than abbreviating, and break up your content into more digestible chunks across multiple slides.

3. Take advantage of PowerPoint’s presenter tools.

Just as you can’t see the audience, they can’t see you (or, again, you’re probably a tiny video in the corner while they’re viewing your screen). It’s great that you are pointing to the complex chart on the screen… at your dining room table… with no one around… but you need to vocalize this — and moving a mouse pointer around on the screen doesn’t always cut it. Use PowerPoint’s built-in presentation tools to circle things on the slide or highlight important text/data, and you might even consider turning on the real-time subtitling/captions that automatically transcribes what you are saying for everyone to read.

4. Plan for delays and possible tech issues.

Transitioning between slides, playing video or audio clips, or animating text and visuals onto the screen on clicks takes time. Be conscious of the fact that there may be a lag. Consider keeping a second computer with you where you are presenting so you can gauge how being online is impacting the presentation. This is also a good idea in case you experience technical difficulties and need to quickly switch to another device.

5. Record, review, reflect, and move on.

Looking back at what you might consider a cringeworthy performance is necessary — it’s the only way to see how you can improve before your next virtual presentation. But don’t be too hard on yourself (you are your own worst critic, after all)… we’ve all had to embrace new ways of communicating — practically overnight — and there’s going to be a learning curve. Plus, most of us are in the same boat!

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Crystal McKenna Green

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