Delivering Great Virtual Presentations – This is your time to Shine

You made it! The hard part is over—since you have rehearsed so much, the presentation should be a breeze. Remember to breathe and breathe deeply.

Leave no Participant Behind

Avoid scrolling quickly—some people take longer to read and digest information than others. Be aware that it may take a while for attendees’ screens to refresh. Assume a couple of seconds of lag time so that you leave nobody behind. When it’s important that the audience notices a particular point, pause, verbally call attention to what you would like the attendees to notice, and ask them if they are seeing it. If you click on something, describe what you are clicking on. Be sure to speak slowly and clearly. Avoid statements such as “look over here” or “notice this.” Instead, use statements such as “look at the second bullet of the screen” or “notice the arrow at the top left-hand corner of your display.”

Be Very Careful before you Press the Send Button

Be sure that you are sending your message where you want it to go.
Otherwise, you can embarrass yourself and offend others. You typically have the option of sending comments to another presenter, to a specific attendee, or to all participants. Check for typos as best you can, using the spell-check feature of your word processing application to create and check your comment and then just paste in into your message window.

Maintain a High Level of Energy

Sustain a fast and lively pace that might seem just a bit faster than is comfortable for the average participant. Smile; even if the attendees do not see you, a smile always shines through. You’ll find that people seem to be able to hear your smile. Vary your intonations. This includes your pitch, volume, and inflections. When you change the way you sound at times, it keeps listeners interested. Stay positive and enthusiastic. Avoid statement such as, “I hope this works.” Use the singular “you” in your statements and questions. Instead of saying, “I wonder if anyone out there can answer this question,” say something like, “I wonder if you know the answer to this question?” Listeners should have the feeling that you are speaking directly to them. Use attendees’ names as much as you can to add further personalization.

Be Flexible, Agile, and Intellectually Nimble

This is probably the one element that separates great virtual presenters from simply good ones.

Avoid Distributing all of your Handouts at the Beginning of your Presentation

Attendees often look ahead. Wait to distribute handouts until they are needed. It is acceptable to include contact information in your handouts, so that attendees can reach out to you if they need to. Be sure to make this information understated and tasteful. Send private messages to attendees complementing their chats and other involvement in your virtual presentation. Also, send chat messages to participants whom you feel need a little extra help or encouragement.

A Few More Thoughts

Where appropriate, include support information such as Web resources and an e-mail box for questions to subject matter experts (SMEs). Include an “I didn’t know that “whiteboard where participants can write something new that they learned during the presentation and how they intend to use it. Expect that unexpected things will happen. Remember that you can broadcast the results of a poll as it is running or wait until it is winding down. I recommend waiting until it is winding down, so that attendees do not alter their answers to agree with the majority.