The demand for virtual meetings, presentations and conferences are on the rise, so you'll probably find yourself participating in one of them in the near future.
But while it may be tempting to disable your video and lounge in your pajamas when you join the meeting, it's actually more imperative now than ever to be as present as you would be in the office, and that will require a new level of engagement that may feel unnatural to you at home.
It will also require a new level of engagement from your audience, since distractions will be completely out of your control. If you want to prepare a virtual presentation that's just as engaging online as it would be in person, follow these nine steps.
As is the case with any engaging presentation, identifying your purpose keeps you on track as you prepare, allowing you to tie every point you make to why you're making it. It also makes the goal of your presentation crystal clear for your audience, as they will be able to see how each consecutive idea ties into your overall message.
The situational context of your presentation is key to crafting it with the right rhetoric. As you prepare, think about who you'll be talking to and identify their needs in order to make meaningful connections. Also, identify the tone you want to deliver your presentation in by considering the language, features and perspectives that most closely align with the reaction you're trying to evoke from viewers.
Once you've identified your audience and your purpose for presenting, it's time to plan what you're going to say and how you're going to say it. Draft your presentation however you normally would, using Google Suite or the old-fashioned pen and paper, then consider the presentation tools that'll help you best deliver your ideas.
The best platforms to use are the ones that allow you to organize, display and interact with the information in a meaningful way; feel free to explore popular presentation tools like Prezi, Microsoft Events and SlideCamp to start.
Maybe you need a series of charts or a physical whiteboard to get your point across — and now's the time to find out. After you've drafted your presentation, make note of any extra features you can include to make your point pop! Then, prepare those materials in advance so you can plug them into your platform or test run your presentation later on.
Your agenda may flow inevitably out of steps three and four, but in the case that it does not, plan your presentation from start to finish. Cover each point you're going to make, how long each idea should take to share and leave room for audience participation.
Yes, it still matters what you wear to a virtual presentation. Depending on the nature of your presentation, you should dress as professionally as you want to be seen. For example, if you're presenting your new company strategy for B2B marketing to the leadership team, you should dress business professionally. But if you're walking your sales team through how you closed a difficult sale, the company's usual dress code works just fine.
Be ready to face technical challenges like spotty sound, a lag in video and audio or being accidentally exited out of your presentation mid-speech. These things happen and may be totally out of your control, but expecting them in advance allows you to keep your cool when they do happen. It also allows you to leave extra room within your presentation as a precaution.
Virtual meetings can sometimes feel impersonal. That's because eye contact becomes looking into a screen and staring at a gallery view of your team, which doesn't exactly offer the same intimacy as sitting around a table with them.
Therefore, leave room for socializing, like a quick check-in at the beginning of the meeting or some Q&A sessions throughout. This encourages your audience to participate with you and truly engage with the ideas you're discussing.
At the end of your virtual meeting, you can offer to follow up with your audience by sending a copy of the presentation via email or simply summarizing your key takeaways in a final slide.
You can also offer additional materials and recourses that may be helpful to them, inciting them to further engage with the subject matter.
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