Tips for remote presenters

Nancy Duarte

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Nancy Duarte

I was recently interviewed for an article on GigaOm’s Web Worker Daily site. Their articles specialize in giving tips to workers who telecommute. Since I’d recently delivered a webinar for VizThink, I pulled from that experience to contribute to the GigaOm article.

For the presentation, I draped off the windows of my office (because I felt silly), posted pictures of employees (so it felt like a real audience), stood up clicker-in-hand and delivered the presentation. Here are the tips I submitted to GigaOm’s Judi Sohn.

Nancy adding cut out images of her team members to the glass window in her office while she presents

High stakes communication is handled best with everyone in the same room. But we all know with gas prices going up, and spending going down, it’s likely that your critical proposal will end up being communicated via an online presentation. So how do you make the most of it and connect with your audience?

For the webinar I delivered recently, I wanted to be ultra-prepared because the registered attendees were at an all-time high. I was comfortable with the content but I wanted the remote delivery to come across well over the phone. The webinar went very well, and even went viral with roughly 10,000 viewers. Below are the principles I used to keep the audience engaged.

Stand Up

Body posture influences the projection of your voice. If you’re scrunched at your computer, or huddled by the phone, your voice may not come across with authority, and you risk be perceived as unprepared. Pretend you’re in a real presentation environment. Give yourself some privacy, tape up photos of people to make eye contact with, stand up, and even use a clicker. It makes a huge difference.

Burst the Content

People will multitask during your presentation. It’s the nemesis of the medium. Instead of ignoring it, use it as motivation to communicate differently. Create presentations so visually rich that they won’t cover up your webinar with their Inbox. Varying the volume and tone of your voice will create auditory bursts, and to add auditory emphasis to your content. Humor is a great way to capture interest. If you sound like you’re having a good time, they’ll want to hang out with the cool crowd. (Wouldn’t it be great if you could add a laugh track to your presentation?)

Present with Two

When two people share the responsibility of presenting, the audience’s interest will be piqued each time the presenter changes. A new person usually means a new topic, and the audience will tune in to hear about it. Granted, if you can’t sustain the interesting content they may drift again, but the first few seconds after a transition are great opportunities to reengage interest. Take advantage of those moments by planning them ahead of time.

Make it Interactive

Take advantage of nature of the web to collect feedback and interact with your audience during the presentation. Most applications have installed extensive feedback mechanisms so the audience can float questions, chat as a community, and give live feedback. If it’s a large online audience, it’s best to have an administrator handle the incoming questions and comments. You can also extend the reach of your presentation by recording it and posting it. Then the audience can watch it (and pause it), in their own time frame.

Understand the Technology

When delivering a presentation online, each application used to display your content is very different. Host a dry run of your presentation in which you click through ALL your slides. Many of the applications lose transitions, builds, and animations. What works in PowerPoint may not work in the application hosting your presentation.