You don’t need me to tell you that speaking from home can feel very different to doing so from a stage or in the same room as an audience.
There are some shared skills between the two formats, of course: diction still matters a lot, telling a story can still be the most engaging way to begin, smiling and making eye contact with the lens will still seal the deal.
It’s also true, though, that speakers have been learning some new skills – or at least applying existing ones differently – in order to make the most of presenting remotely.
Online speakers must make up for reduced body language cues, compensate for all the additional distractions that go on when their audience is also at home , and somehow create energy through the screen. All this can be done – but it requires some fresh approaches to your material.
1. Begin and End Big
This is the key: start and finish with energy. Online, the middle can be even more of a blur to those listening than it is in person – and that’s why book-ending your remarks with real punch is more important now than ever before.
Starting with a real sense of momentum sets the tone for the rest of your remarks – and will enthuse your audience to stay with you. Open confidently, with your IT sorted and your environment set up – and break the ice with a joke, a surprising fact, or a story.
From there, you’ll be able to deliver your content to viewers who are actually listening. When you reach your conclusion, make it obvious and make it inspiring: end with a solution or a call to action. Your final take-home must be as positive and energetic as that first impression!
2. Frame Yourself Well
Do you like it when you can only see the top of someone’s head on the screen? No? well make sure that isn’t the image you are sending out.
Set your computer or camera up at eye level so you can look straight down the lens, light yourself well, and make sure your backdrop looks good. Attractive decoration works, but too much clutter will simply be distracting. That goes the same for your dress code, smart and uncluttered is best.
Finally, consider standing. The temptation when presenting online is to sit down right in front of your device. But if your set-up is good enough – especially if your microphone can cope with it – backing off and standing up will give your presentation a little more energy, and a more professional look.
3. Streamline Your Stuff
I am always an advocate for precision and brevity and it matters more than ever online. This doesn’t mean doing away with slides entirely – in fact, visuals in particular can really help add flair to your presentation and reinforce your points. But you do need to keep them simple.
Every online presentation needs to be significantly shorter than its real-world counterpart. We all get Zoom fatigue, and our attention is split constantly when working from home. Respect these facts and really prune your remarks: keep things punchy and short.
Once you’ve got your speech down to its essentials, make bold and impactful graphics for it. Keep the number of graphics low, but their content very visual: pictures help lodge facts in people’s memories, so focus on supporting your words rather than repeating them.
So that’s it: start big, keep things short, look good and end well. It takes a bit of work to get your existing material into a leaner online format … but it’s well worth it and will get results – so give it a go!