If you want to know how to give an effective online presentation from home, you’ll love this article.
In the era of remote work, speaking in front of a computer or smartphone camera is a must. So it’s worth practicing this skill to present yourself professionally. Achieving mastery is within reach.
Not so long ago, when we were getting used to Zoom (1), Skype, or Teams, we had a feeling that our online presentations on such a scale were a temporary matter and that in a while we would return to conference rooms, face-to-face meetings, and big congresses. This, however, did not happen.
The pandemic accelerated processes that had been going on for a long time. The whole commotion caused by COVID-19 and the related restrictions gave an additional impulse to what has been happening for some time now, i.e., the transfer of a significant part of our professional activity (and not only) to the virtual world. And even if we don’t like online meetings too much, we have no choice but to improve our public speaking skills online.
How do you do it in order to appear professional in front of the camera? Where to start learning? And finally, what skills have we learned before that we can use now? The answers to these questions will help us quickly do our homework so that we can find our place in the new reality.
How To Give An Effective Online Presentation From Home
What type of speaker are you (2)?
To start with, it’s good to take stock and think about what your strengths are when speaking in public, because that’s what you’ll build your effectiveness on in the virtual world as well. It is worth adding here that talking to your boss, for example, when you are presenting your idea or reporting on the progress of your task, is a type of public speaking.
We can divide speakers into three main types:
- A mentor motivates, inspires, and bases his/her speeches on emotions.
- A sage communicates information perfectly. He or she is precise and feels comfortable presenting data, statistics, and research results.
- A friend likes to digress. Associations and anecdotal evidence are the driving forces behind his speeches, which are only seemingly without a plan.
When preparing an online speech, consider your strengths. Highlight them. It’s also good to make a sketch of what you want to say, in what order. And if you already know what your strengths are, you can start building your online speaking style without ignoring the basic principles we write about below.
1. Make sure you have the right place for the recording.
It may seem obvious, but even professionals make mistakes. A few months ago, the world watched a BBC interview with Robert Kelly, who lives in South Korea. Probably not many people remember what this political scientist was talking about, but tens of millions of people remember his funny children entering the room during the live call.
That is why it is so important to create a place where we will be safe and no one will enter it unexpectedly. It’s good for it to have the right acoustics. Let’s check whether the recipients will hear us better if we put on headphones or if we use a microphone on the computer or an additional one.
The background is also important. A bed, even a bedded one, is not a good scene. It’s worth using a virtual background: not only can you choose the most appropriate one, referring, for example, to the content, but also when connecting from home, you won’t lose your privacy. Let’s also take care of lighting.
The source of light should come from the front. If there are going to be more speeches, it is worth buying a special ring lamp with a tripod on which we will place the smartphone. It gives a soft, warm light, in which the face looks favorable.
2. Imagine your audience
Let’s think about who we will be speaking to, even if they are strangers. Let’s imagine specific people and give them names. This will help us begin to feel that we are speaking to others and not to ourselves.
You can also imagine that your best friend is sitting in the front row and you are talking to him or her. This will make us feel comfortable with the knowledge that we are being listened to willingly by someone who is sympathetic to us.
3. Remember your image
You can find hundreds of memes that depict a man sitting in front of a computer while chatting online, dressed from the waist up in a suit, with boxers and slippers visible below. Funny. But I urge you to dress in full. And, of course, it’s not that there is a danger of the camera “going down”.
When we are dressed as we were when we went to meetings in real life, we stop focusing on the outfit. We increase the sense of confidence that is always written on our faces and can also be seen on the screen.
It’s good if our clothing is plain or with minimal patterns. The camera does not like checks, flowers, or dots. Let’s take care of our hair and, if necessary, use a mattifying powder, especially if the speech is of a more official nature.
4. Don’t forget eye contact
Whether you’re speaking to one person in front of you or to a room full of people (there are techniques to give the listener the impression that the speaker is focusing on them), making eye contact is important. This also applies to online speeches.
Direct your gaze to the camera eye at the top of the screen. The audience will have the illusion that we are looking at them, and a good relationship will be established between us.
If you need to read a text, it is worth placing it above the screen, so that you do not lose sight of it during the speech, or placing a tablet on a tripod at the height of the camera, preferably operated by a remote control or a special application.
5. Take care of technical matters
Place the computer so that the eye of the camera is at the same level as your face. If necessary, make a stand of several books of the appropriate height. Check your Internet connection and have a phone handy with alternative network access just in case.
In most online chat programs, it is possible to write chat messages. However, it is best not to respond to them while speaking. When reading messages, it is easy to lose the thread and bury the entire speech. If such interaction is necessary, ask someone to be the moderator and take care of the chat questions.
Before we connect, let’s make sure the system is working, slides are playing, etc. Let’s compress the images on the presentation slides to reduce the file size. Then there is no risk that the presentation will hang. Avoid playing videos and recordings, as your audience may hear distorted sound.
6. Speak slowly and take breaks
Online meetings should take place at a slower pace due to the 2-3 second delay in most systems. An additional barrier for many listeners is the limited information we glean from body language in offline conversation.
In both live and remote speaking, it’s a good idea to take care of the pace of your speech by using short sentences, speaking with commitment, and speaking carefully at the same time. Additionally, it is a good idea to modulate your voice distinctively and be a bit more expressive.
Eating sounds, bad accents, or simply sloppy pronunciation are distracting. If your speech is supported by slides, do not overload them with content. Slogans and a few points are enough instead of a long text or a complicated table.
The most important thing is our speech, and the slides are only an addition. When speaking, it is a good idea to pause every now and then to ask questions.
If we remember that meetings and live presentations consist of 50% non-verbal interactions, we will understand how long our presentation, lecture, or workshop should last. Let’s compress our content. Sometimes it’s better to leave people a little unsatisfied than to bore them with an overly long speech.
7. Prepare materials and notes
If you want the audience to focus as much as possible on your speech, prepare the notes yourself, which you will send to them after the meeting or presentation. Of course, you should inform them about this at the beginning. The notes can contain much more content than the slides.
If the speech is particularly important or complicated, it is a good idea to ask someone to take notes. Graphic notes are a masterpiece, but their preparation requires the presence of an illustrator specializing in such work.
8. Be honest and authentic
This may sound like a truism, but it’s an important element. Enjoy your speech and believe in what you are talking about. If you find joy in your speech and are aware that people are listening, you will grow wings.
It is good to find joy in connecting with people online. Then we will have fun and our audience will have fun too. Let’s build relationships with others by involving them in your presentation.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article about how to give an effective online presentation from home. I sincerely hope its contents have been a good help to you.