Make sure you create a professional environment to record or live stream your presentation. If you are in the office, find a quiet space to present and remember to let your colleagues know when you are presenting live.
Similarly, when presenting from home it is important to let other occupants of the house know. Avoid presenting in shared rooms, find a quiet room in the house with a closed door. Put a sign on the door when you are presenting to remind people not to interrupt.
- Make sure both you and your office look professional and inviting.
- Smart clothing and solid colours are preferable.
- Keep your background simple and uncluttered.
- Remove distractions and turn off your phone, email, Skype, Zoom, or other apps running on your computer.
- Keep the door closed and cut out any background noise to make it easier for the audience to focus on your presentation.
- Turn the camera on.
- Video is crucial to capture the full attention of your audience; people tend to tune out when just listening to a voice.
- Place your webcam at eye level and ensure that the camera is capturing your face properly.
- Lean in so that your face, and not the objects in the background, takes centre-stage.
- You want to engage with your audience, not just recite your presentation to a computer.
- Act like you are a professional newscaster on television.
- Make eye contact by looking directly into the camera (particularly at the start or end of your session) and speak conversationally.
It essential that people see you clearly.
- Ensure that the lighting in the room is sufficient and that your face is clearly visible.
- Eliminate strong backlighting that will cast you as a silhouette by pulling the shades over any windows behind you.
- Ensure that there is natural light falling on your face.
- If necessary, set up a light source behind the camera.
- Invest in a low-cost desktop video light, if you don’t have natural light in your office.
Choose a background that enhances your professional image and is aligned with your message.
Avoid a cluttered background or anything that can be distracting such as people walking around or moving images. Avoid virtual backgrounds as they can be distracting, instead try a more professional cleaner look such as a bookcase.
If using a virtual background, be sure to test it out first!
While delegates may forgive a less than perfect video, if they cannot clearly hear you, they will likely leave your presentation early. Audio is always clearer when using a microphone, whether that is through headphones with an inbuilt microphone or an external microphone. Choose your recording space based on the amount of background noise there is. Avoid areas where you can hear traffic, the heating and cooling system, or voices from another room. Practising your presentation with family, friends or colleagues is a great way to get familiarise yourself with presenting live and to get feedback on your audio settings. You should practice with the same technical configurations and location that you will use for your presentation.
You can use https://zoom.us/test to test your Zoom audio in advance.
If you are using slides, make them visually appealing. Use high-quality graphics and limit the amount of text on each slide. It’s your job as a presenter to deliver the content. The slides are meant to enhance your spoken words, not replace them, so try switching between slides and your camera.
Please ensure your PowerPoint presentations are in 16:9 aspect as 4:3 aspect (square) presentations will not fill screens.
Check your presentation and/or slides for confidential or sensitive information. Although delegates are asked to acknowledge and agree to the virtual conference Terms & Conditions (which includes no unauthorized photography or recording of conference material). The reality is that we cannot enforce this rule in an online environment. You should assume attendees could take photographs, screen shots, audio, or video recordings.
When you are the one speaking, look directly into your computer’s camera, not at the screen or at other participants. This takes some practice, but it makes the viewer feel as if you are looking right at them. Some presenters turn off their self-view so that they aren’t distracted by their own image.
Try not to have your camera too far above or below you. A camera too high can make it difficult to maintain eye contact, as you may find your gaze dropping as you speak.
When presenting look directly at the camera, avoid looking at yourself or other presenters.
If you are part of a panel or team of presenters, make sure you are aware of when your camera is on. If you are not speaking but your camera is on, make sure you look like you are paying attention.
You want the camera to frame your face, neck, and shoulders. People are drawn to faces, so you do not want to lose that connection by being too far away. You also don’t want your face to take over the whole screen. Practice your positioning and distance.
Perhaps consider placing some tape on the floor during your rehearsal so you know where to stand or sit during your live presentation.
Just like in a live presentation, you want to present with energy and animation. Being too slow or too monotone in your voice makes it easy for delegates to disengage and tune out. Speaking in a clear, bright voice goes a long way. Try to enunciate each word, but do not overthink, as it can make you sound robotic. You may even want to try smiling while presenting, as this can make your voice sound a little more approachable. Keeping people connected virtually requires you to be engaging with your presentation.
Unlike presenting in front of a real-time audience, getting the pacing right can be difficult. Keep things steady without rushing or crawling at a snail’s pace. If you tend to be a fast talker in real life, practice slowing down just a bit. If you are a slow talker, you may want to speed up just a bit. Use family, friends or colleagues to practice speaking to, ask them if they think you are talking too slow or fast.
Learn to recognise your use of filler words such as ‘umm’ and ‘ahh’, which in turn will help decrease the use.
Again, just like in face-to-face presentations, audiences connect to authenticity, so be yourself! Let your personality shine through. Have fun. If you look like you’re enjoying the presentation so will others. Research shows that happy people retain information better than those who are bored or disinterested.