Whether you are a consultant, solopreneur, SMB owner, or chief sales officer, knowing how to deliver online presentations can take you far. Business presentations play a huge role in success. They can significantly reinforce your company’s corporate image.
But not everyone is a natural at giving online presentations. If you think you appear frazzled when giving presentations in the digital arena, don’t despair. Here’s what you need to do to deliver online presentations like a pro.
Establish Your Credibility Straight Away
If your audience knows you are credible, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say. This doesn’t mean you should start with a lengthy intro that details all your career highlights. The key is to establish credibility right away, without wasting too much of your audience’s time.
You can share an experience that shaped the presentation, tell a short story about your background related to your topic, or reveal the legwork that is directly related to what you’re about to share and that supports your information.
Don’t just hope your audience considers you to be credible—Make a point of establishing credibility.
Design Simple, Easy-to-Read Slides
Different platforms display slides in different ways. By simplifying your slides, you can avoid technical hassles. Instead of placing text at the edges of the slides, place it in the centre. This way, it will display correctly on every type of screen.
To make it easier for your audience to follow your online presentation, consider creating high-contrast slides. Keep in mind that people like to multitask when they are using a computer, even when they are attending an online presentation. They are also more likely to get distracted.
Drive home your key messages quickly in order to prevent them from missing your main points. For your slide titles, use a sentence headline. It should state the main point of your slide. In the body of the slide, include evidence for each key point.
Set the Scene
Ideally, you should have a plain background when delivering online presentations. To make sure you’ll look like a professional and prevent distractions, eliminate any visual clutter behind you. This can include pets, laundry, toys, food, piles of books, boxes, plants, etc.
If decluttering your physical background isn’t an option, you can create a virtual background. Many video conferencing systems allow you to customize the background. Providers such as Webex, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom offer step-by-step instructions on how to set up a virtual background.
Include a Goal Early in the Presentation
Your audience is more likely to relate what you have to say during the presentation with the goal or purpose of the presentation if they know what that goal is from the start. By stating the goal early on, you’ll have an easier time getting the action you want at the end of the presentation.
Whether your goal is to get approval for an initiative or secure funding, make sure to mention it. If you focus on that goal, it will be easier for you to shape your presentation.
Be Prepared for Difficult Questions
Even before the Q&A session at the end of the presentation, questions may come up. Difficult questions may subvert your goal or derail your presentation, so you need to be prepared for them. But knowing your topic well is not enough to answer tough questions, especially if they make you feel even more under pressure, or if the questioner is trying to make a point whilst asking a question.
How you listen to questions and the manner in which you answer them are also important. One way to learn the framework for answering difficult questions is to go on a presentation course and practice with a coach. This way, you will learn to keep your responses as focused as possible.
Consider all the points the audience may raise and all the objections they may have. To sideline objections, you can include the most critical ones within your online presentation.
Remember that you are still responsible for the interest of the whole audience even when you’re just taking questions from one person. To involve the rest of the audience, and prevent them from becoming bored, repeat or paraphrase the questions.
Always make sure to listen to the whole question. When we ask questions during online presentations, we often think on our feet. So, it’s not uncommon for a question to change direction at the last moment. If you have already started to prepare an answer, this can throw you.
Regularly Re-Engage Your Audience
Again, the average person’s attention span dwindles easily when they are attending an online presentation. Making startling statements is one of the best ways to get someone’s attention during an online presentation. Moreover, you will drive your point home if you can back it up with information.
You can pull out a few facts and use them as a catalyst for your message. To illustrate your point, you can also tell some personal anecdotes. Another way to bring a pivotal point to life is to introduce a metaphor.
But, if you really want to captivate your online audience and effectively convey information, make sure to ask thought-provoking and rhetorical questions before you launch into the material. This is an efficient way of getting the audience to think about your points in the context you want.
For example, you could say something along the lines of, “How much longer should we…?” or “When I first noticed this, I asked myself…”
Have Your Own Questions Ready
Having no questions to answer can be just as awkward as having to handle difficult questions on the spot. Be prepared with your own questions and answers in case no one asks you anything during the Q&A. Saying something like, “One thing you may still be wondering is…”; or “Usually, people ask me…” can help you ease into your own questions.
Use these questions strategically. They should serve to get your message across. Even if the audience has questions of their own, you can still use yours at the end of the presentation.
Light Up Your Face
To better understand you, your audience needs to be able to read your facial expressions. Good video lighting is key to a perfect online presentation.
To light up your face, set up a desk lamp behind your webcam. Sitting in front of a bright window should also work. Minimise the lighting from other parts of the room for this to work well.