It seems like everyone is on Zoom these days. It’s time to increase the quality of your virtual meetings, especially if you’re a professional speaker.
WHY is this important? Audiences have Zoom fatigue. It’s hard to pay attention and they’re more distracted than ever. If you don’t get viewers’ attention, you’re not going to get them to understand. If you don’t get them to understand, you’re never going to get them to buy in to whatever it is that you’re presenting or selling.
It’s also reputational. People were very forgiving during the early stages of this pandemic but now they’re expecting higher quality from virtual presentations. If you don’t have the basics together, people are going to start asking “What else don’t you have together?” As a professional speaker your audiences are probably thinking “If you can’t master this, what else are you unable to master?”
You’ve got to:
- Master the technology
- Create sharp, concise, compelling content
- Deliver it in a way that’s engaging, energetic and interactive
Technology is the baseline; you MUST get yours in order. Your sound quality must be high. If it’s not, then people are going to tune out–literally.
You must have a strong internet connection. Test the video conferencing service that you will use for your presentation ahead of time. Record yourself or yourself and a friend on Zoom to test things out. If your home Wifi isn’t up to par, get a Wifi booster or directly connect your router to your computer with an ethernet cable using an ethernet/USB connector.
You have to get a good sound and you have to get a good picture. If you’re a speaking professional, you’ll need to invest in professional equipment. You’ll need an external webcam and external microphone, the ones built into your computer aren’t good enough. Both can be purchased for $50 – $150 each. You can get a decent quality home studio set up for a couple hundred dollars, that’s a wise investment for your professional career.
- Get good lighting. Bring light to the front of you and not behind you. Get a light to put behind your computer to light up your face.
- Elevate your screen, nobody wants to look up your nose.
- Check your background. Have a bookcase, virtual background with a green screen, etc.
- Want examples? Watch television – copy what newscasters and talk show hosts are doing from home.
- If you will be onsite get there early and learn all the controls of the platform that you’re going to be using.
First, you have to understand your audience. They are busier now than ever. If they’re not on camera they’re multitasking – sometimes they’re doing it even if they are on camera. The best way to grab people’s attention from the start is to START. Don’t do housekeeping on camera or wait an extra five minutes for everyone to get there. Jump right into the content and get going.
Engage people early. Have them answer an easy question in the chat box. There’s scientific evidence that people can only sustain their attention for 10 minutes on the same thing. Switch it up at least every 10 minutes; change topics, ask a question, go to the chat, ask more questions, show a video, etc. Just engage your audience somehow.
If you usually do 60 minute live presentations you’ll probably want to do 30 minute virtual presentations, shorter is better.
Ask yourself “What do I want my audience to know, feel and do?” KNOW is the information. If you’re just dispensing information you’re wasting people’s time, you may was well just send a memo. You want ACTION you want them to DO something. FEEL is the emotional part. There’s neuroscience that proves we don’t make decisions based on logic, we make them based on emotion – if you want them to buy into what you’re saying, make them FEEL something. Appeal to pride, ego, sense of security, fear or whatever it is that will motivate them to take the action that you want them to take.
The final component to content is what people see on the screen. “Death by PowerPoint” is even more fatal in a virtual environment. Emphasize visuals over text. You’ll need more slides virtually than live at an event. An extra two to five minutes is an eternity when people are looking at their computer screens. Have ONE single idea per slide, keep the pace moving briskly so they’re not reading while you’re talking.
Whatever you do in person you should be doing it more or bigger virtually. More interaction, more compelling visuals, more stories, more video. In terms of delivery more energy, more excitement. There are three components of energy: Mental, emotional and physical. Mentally, you want to be focused and in the zone. Emotional focus is you’re passionate, you care. Physically: Be larger than life. Your voice has got to be a little louder. Lean in, lean forward elbows on the desk. Get yourself physically in the game, have that energy – caffeine, stretch, etc. If you’re not excited your audience isn’t going to get excited.
Other Little Tips
Offer virtual and visual guideposts. People want to see where they are in the journey of your presentation, they want to see the light at the end of the tunnel. “We’re about half way through.” “The third of four things you need to know is… and the fourth is…” “We’re finishing up and I’m going to take some questions…” This also keeps your timing on track. Nobody likes to see a speaker on part four of an eight part presentation when they only have five minutes left.
Practice beforehand so you know how long each section takes and PRACTICE your timing ahead of time so you know when to add a story or take a story out depending upon how much time you have left.
People have low expectations of virtual presentations. This is your opportunity to rise to new expectations or sink to their low expectations. Blow them out of the water and leave an amazing impression on them and they’ll remember you as an amazing speaker – which can lead to paid speaking engagements.
About The Guest
Rob Biesenbach works with leaders who want to be more persuasive and authoritative in everything they do. That means breaking free from Death by PowerPoint, telling their story, and communicating like humans should.
He’s an in-demand keynote speaker and workshop leader, an award-winning communication consultant, a Second City-trained actor, and the author of three books, including the Amazon bestseller Unleash the Power of Storytelling: Win Hearts, Change Minds, Get Results. In all of his work, Rob uses principles from the world of performance to help people perform better in the workplace, the marketplace and their everyday lives.
Connect with Rob and learn more at these links: