When virtual presentations fail, people are quick to blame the technology, disinterested participants or the participants who are intimidated with technology.
However, when things go wrong, the first thing we need to do is to take responsibility.
Never assume that your virtual attendees will be listening. To become a master of virtual meetings, these are some of the things you should avoid doing at any cost.
1. A Lackluster Opening or a Weak Closing
The beginning and end of your presentation are the parts that are going to be remembered by an audience. Everything else that is in between, well, is in between. There is a chance that the meat of your presentation is entertaining and informative enough to stick with an audience. However, given our current state of attention spans especially online, it’s unlikely for an audience to recall everything that you had to offer.
In the first minute of a presentation, audiences are making up their minds about whether to give you their full attention or tune out and return to their screens. Grab their attention from the start with a story that underscores the purpose of your presentation while striking the inner chord inside the audience.
Same goes for the ending which has the power to break down walls, and influence and inspire people to act.
2. Monotonous Presentation Style
Remember you are not a university lecturer. You are not there to inform and educate. You are there to inspire and transform your audience.
You must deliver your message with greater passion, inflection and excitement than in person. Your presentation is a performance, not a reading: Build your presentation in an interesting manner, creating a sense of suspense or surprise, as opposed to randomly laying out everything you know about your subject.
Never think of not getting on video. Your audience is keen to see you atleast in the beginning and end of the presentation. If you face any bandwidth issues, you can share with your audience that you would be stopping your video.
3. Not Being Camera Ready
Don’t let the cameras roll without first checking what’s behind you. Your audience could see some clutter in your background or hear some background noise that you could have eliminated. This also includes disabling popups, including Outlook message alerts, social media notifications. Make sure you are ready to present your best version in the most appealing background before you switch on the camera.
4. Screwing up with Time
Always remember that the allotted time for the presentation is different from your talking time. Creating a schedule for every part of your presentation -the introduction and the ending, various sections, interaction and engagement with the audience, and for expecting the unexpected, is a must, not a should. Time is even a more limited source in the virtual space. You cannot afford to mismanage the time as it will screw up the whole experience for you and your audience.
5. Sloppy Structure
Knowing the flow and pace of your own message is necessary for a fluid delivery. You must be thorough with the overall design, main modules and the submodules of your presentation. It gives you an edge by giving you a sense of control while delivering your message. Sloppy structure is enough to ruin the impact, you desire to create.
6. Death with Powerpoint
Stay away from text heavy slides at any cost. Too much content, or ugly slides. Never write your entire presentation in bullet points on a series of slides.
Never present more than one idea per slide. Your audience will finish reading your third point before you have finished the first one.
Most importantly remember, your PowerPoint is NOT your presentation. It is an entertaining visual vehicle to reinforce your core messages. Keep the momentum going and use your slides to animate your ideas, help your audience to visualize a key point or share a personal side of you. Never use slides as a substitute for not knowing your material.
7. Not Engaging the Audience
You cannot let yourself lose your audience by not engaging them constantly. Your virtual presentation must be interactive and quick paced. The sooner you involve your audience, the quicker you create a virtual community and inspire others to participate.
Always remember that in an age of easy distraction, you need to use every tool at your disposal to convey your ideas. That includes the words you say, the slides on the screen, and the gestures you use. Your message should be so clear, relevant and succinct, that your audience is hooked to you.