When I sat back at my desk for my first Zoom call of the year, it was soul crushing.
It felt tiring.
My first thought was, “I can’t do this all year…”
But eventually, I found my way back. And as I continue to meet new people over video, I can’t help but think “We need new tools for new rules!”
When it comes to first impressions and developing professional relationships it is tough to find the best ways to connect and present with impact when you’re stuck on video conference calls.
Everything you’ve learned about power stances and hand gestures that make you look smart and confident have flown out the window if you’re sharing your screen with an audience of tiny faces on a computer.
In this article we’ll break down our list of the top 6 ways to present with impact even through the screen.
1. Connect Immediately
The first step to a good presentation is connecting with your audience. They want someone to relate to, which means you need to rely on your own personality and not only on a slide or graph. A strong introduction will build the momentum you need to carry you through the presentation with your audience’s attention intact.
Presentations that use rhetorical questions, evoke a lot of imagery, and the word “we” to build instant familiarity, are going to be much more memorable than presentations that do not use these things.
2.Tell a Story
Human culture is beautifully diverse, but there are some things we all have in common: We all love a good story.
Every presentation, like any good story, needs a framework to build upon. A presentation has a beginning, a middle and an end – or, in the mind of Marshall Ganz at Harvard, a challenge, a choice, and an outcome. Figure out what your presentation is trying to achieve (eg. a call to action, a new point of view, etc), and develop a story that will naturally guide your audience toward that outcome.
3. Use Numbers Tactically
After living life in a global healthcare pandemic for a couple years, you might think that stats and numbers are the only meaningful way we share information between ourselves. Stats are important for understanding cause and effect and should still be included, but they’re not the only part of a presentation that matters.
According to research from Stanford, audiences may think that graphs and numbers look attractive on a screen, but it is the stories that they remember later. If you want to give a presentation that stays with people, choose one memorable story and weave your presentation through it.
4. Keep them Engaged
People tend to zone out a bit through the middle of a presentation – especially online. The mid-meeting DIP is real, folks! Plus, we all have many screens to amuse us when we’re online.This means you’ll need to have frequent calls to attention to re-engage your audience to keep their attention. Ask questions, use quizzes, plan activities, play games, and if you must cover the numbers, space facts out over multiple slides, include images.
5. Timing is Everything
To make sure your story is heard, there are moments that you need to make more of an effort to get people’s attention in a meaningful way. Put more energy into the first and last minutes of your presentation.
When your audience senses that the end is near, they’ll tune back in – so make sure you close with some very snazzy and concise summary points that will remind them what they’ve learned and why it matters to them. Try to ask your audience to do something specific and reiterate the positives as you lay out the next steps.
One quick hack is to stage your 1 hour presentation into sections; It’s easier to digest 3 20 minute chunks of information than an hour of data; as long as each section builds on the previous one. Make sure to leave time at the end of each section to recap what you said and restate what you’re about to say.
6. Practice Matters
We’ve all heard that practice makes perfect before – but did you know that there are specific ways to practice that take less time and energy, but will still help you achieve the best results.
Research featured in Communication Quarterly shows that student presenters who practiced in front of a large audience received higher evaluation scores than those who did not. So practicing in front of a mirror, or on camera, might tell you what you look like during a presentation, but it might not help you successfully deliver it. Call your friends and family in and get them to listen before the big day.
Your anxiety as the speaker will decrease after a few minutes, so make sure you rehearse your introduction the most so you’ll feel calmer and more confident through the rest!
Most importantly… try to have fun!
This one took me years to “learn” because it sounds so trite – BUT – if you’re connecting to the material in a way that’s important to you, and having fun sharing it, the audience will have more fun. And that’s what everyone is truly looking for. We want to be engaged, inspired, and to have fun while we learn from you. So make sure you’re having some fun along the way. Maybe it’s just the opener, or you share a story, play a game, conduct a quiz, plan an activity – something that will wake us UP and connect with you and your message.
If you’re looking to create dedicated time and space to practice masterful presentation skills, send me a message below, and let’s chat about how I can help you and your team.