Just this week, we conducted a poll on Kool Kanya’s Instagram account, asking our audience if they get nervous when giving presentations at work. A whopping 82% of our audience voted “Yes”!
Having to give these work presentations virtually in the last year has only made the experience all the more challenging. It can be much harder to hold your audience’s attention when giving presentations remotely, since they aren’t obligated to pay attention (or even keep their eyes open).
Don’t let your nerves or the virtual disconnect come in the way of you acing your online presentations! Here’s a guide to making super impressive and engaging online presentations.
P.S. The Kool Kanya Community is currently hosting conversations, videos and workshops from 12th-18th April on presentations at work, and how you can navigate them! Click here to sign up to the women-only career Community and participate!
Your Guide To Making Impressive And Engaging Online Presentations
Choose The Best Option For Your Presentation
Today, there are several options other than PowerPoint to create your presentation slides. While this continues to be a decent option for formal, no-frills, or daily presentations, try to make your presentation slides as visual and attractive as possible. This will definitely help grab your audience’s attention. The fact that you’ve visibly put in this effort will make them want to pay attention as well.
Creating presentations that are aesthetic and professional has become extremely accessible with tools like Canva, Prezi, Visme, and PowToon. Choose which platform works best for your presentation style.
You can also use additional tools such as live polls to make your presentations more interactive. Web apps like Mentimeter, PollEverywhere, or Swipe allow you to conduct live polls, so you can have quick quizzes, guessing games, or get opinions live.
Check Your Internet Connection, Audio, And Platform
The unreliableness of “ghar ka wi-fi” is something that most colleagues, managers, and clients, understand and allow for now. Even then, fumbling and trying to fix things, while a silent virtual audience waits in (what you can only imagine is) annoyance and impatience, can make you nervous for the rest of the presentation. Try to ensure you’re using the most reliable internet connection at your disposal. Check if it’s working well beforehand, and once again a few minutes before the presentation.
Similarly, make sure your mic is working beforehand and that there’s minimal disturbance. Understand how to navigate the online platform on which the presentation is being held.
Have A Backup
Even if your internet connection is working perfectly that day and your device isn’t randomly hanging for once, make sure you have backups for everything.
Download the presentation deck. Send the deck to a team member who will be on the call, so if you have trouble presenting your screen, they can present the slides while you talk instead. Have a backup device ready in case the one you are presenting on stops working.
Ensure Your Background Isn’t Distracting
If there’s a lot of mess, noise, or activity happening right behind you on the video call, your audience is bound to be distracted by it. Keep your audience’s attention on you and your presentation by ensuring your background is free of overpowering noises, movement, and mess.
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Keep Your Area Lighted
During your presentation, make sure the spotlight is on you – literally! Your facial expressions can help in conveying your point, and a visible visual of you adds a human element and keeps people engaged.
Make sure the corner of the room you’re in is well-lit . Either use artificial lighting or sit next to a window for some natural light.
Practice And Prepare
The virtual disconnect that comes with online presentations can make the experience less intimidating for some, but all the more nerve-wracking for many.
We asked our Instagram audience their go-to tip for acing a presentation at work, and a majority of their answers emphasised the one tried and tested tip: Practice and prepare.
Fear of public speaking and performance anxiety can make online presentations a nightmare. Practice and preparation are the best way to get rid of those online presentation jitters.
Here are some tips to make giving online presentations less stressful:
- Remind yourself that the presentation is not about you, but about the point you’re making.
- Practice how you will be elaborating on each point.
- Think of possible questions and how you can answer them.
- Note down your talking points for each slide on separate flashcards, and keep them by your side.
- If not the entire presentation, rehearse your opening and closing points beforehand.
- Arrive early on the virtual call.
- Speak slowly during the presentation.
- Brain freezes, slip of tongues, and verbal fumbles are normal, and definitely not as embarrassing as your brain may tell you they are. Laugh them off and move on.
- If you feel yourself getting nervous during the presentation, pause and take a deep breath.
Even if you can’t eliminate your nervousness entirely, these tips can help you reduce and manage it!
Speak To The Camera, Not The Screen
Make a concentrated effort to not look at your audience on the screen when you talk. When you aren’t looking at the presentation slide, make it a habit to start looking up into the camera lens and talking. This ‘pretend eye contact’ will help you connect much more with your virtual audience.
Since everyone else’s mics are muted while you present – and everyone is almost always more than happy to keep them that way – the presentation can often feel like a long monologue you need to get through.
Don’t let the lack of participation by the audience make you steamroll from one point to the next.
Pause. Pause regularly. Give the audience time to process the information you have provided. Give them regular spaces in between your presentation to both think and ask questions.
Stick To The Time Frame
One of the best ways to end the presentation on a high note is to end it on time! Make sure you don’t take up more of your audience’s time than you had scheduled. This is where practising beforehand can help immensely; you can run through a practice presentation and time it to make sure you stick to the allotted time frame.
Outline Your Content
Segregate the main points of your presentation and have a linear outline of all the content. This will help you identify the overarching themes you want to convey, while also being able to approach the content in smaller, well thought-out chunks.
You can choose to include the outline in the first few slides of the presentation, so your audience has an idea of what they can expect through the course of it. You can also send a few major points or themes of the presentation to your audience beforehand, so they get a chance to think about them and bring up any opinions or questions they have, during the presentation.
Make It Visual
Making your slides as visually appealing as possible is a sure-shot way to grab your audience’s attention from the get-go. From colour to animation, use as many visual elements as your content needs.
Refer to our earlier point on ‘choosing the best tools’ for some suggestions on software that can help you create visually beautiful presentation decks.
Keep It Minimal And Highlight What Is Important
Ensure your slides aren’t too text-heavy. Adding too much text will drive the audience’s attention towards reading what is on the screen rather than listening to you speak. The text on the slide should be a crisp and clear gist of what you will be speaking on. Highlight words and phrases that are important so they stand out, and visually highlight what you’re saying.
Even when adding visual elements, make sure they aren’t overcrowded or unnecessary.
Include Popular References And Games
Using references and making analogies to pop culture is – some may say cheap, but we say – a great way to engage your audience.
Make references that are either extremely well-known, deeply personal, or have very interesting analogies, so you don’t alienate a section of your audience who may be unfamiliar with the reference.
Include games that don’t feel like you’re quizzing the audience on how attentive they have been. If you’re talking about a certain product, for example, conduct a live poll on how many people have used that product before. If there’s a statistic coming up in your presentation, ask everyone to guess what the number might be. Light-hearted games are a great way to draw back the attention of those who might have zoned out, and ease away online fatigue.
Have A Wrap-Up Slide
“To sum it up… ” is the best way to end any presentation – and the best compliment to it during online presentations? A wrap-up slide!
List down all of the takeaways and important findings from your presentation in the last slide and go over them briefly. Ask your audience if there were any other major learnings they had from the presentation that you might have missed. End the presentation on this high note!
So, next time, keep these points in mind and get ready to receive shocked compliments on how great your presentation was. Maybe your next presentation will have to be on how to make online presentations work for you (or simply share this article with everyone you think will benefit from it)!
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