Delivering virtual presentations: how to stand out
By Nicole Lowenbraun
These days, we’re all inundated with virtual presenters.
It seems every week we’re sitting through more and more virtual presentations. Think of how many you’ve sat through in the last month.
Every one of those presenters wants to communicate something important. They’re hoping to get results from that presentation in one way or another. In order to do that, they need you to pay attention.
Getting your virtual audience to pay attention is a real challenge because their default setting is boredom. The quicker you come to this understanding, the more likely you’ll be to change how you deliver virtual presentations.
It is possible to bring the same kind of experience to a virtual presentation as you might to an in-person one. How? You make your virtual presentation POP by making your content, design, and delivery easy and engaging.
By easy, we mean easy to read, process, understand, and know what’s most important. And by engaging, we mean keeping the audience’s attention and interest through what you say, how you show what you’re saying, and how you say what you’re saying.
Pop Your Content
To create easy and engaging content, grab them at the start. Demonstrate empathy first and then establish authority. We have found that empathy and authority must occur in that order.
By showing empathy first, you let them know you understand their struggles. If you can name their pain and verbalize what they need help with, you’ve got their attention.
Then, you’ve earned the right to demonstrate authority. Tell them why you are the person to help and how you plan to execute. Here, you might consider telling them a quick story about how you’ve faced similar issues.
After you’ve set up an empathetic and authoritative introduction, Mix it up. Throughout your virtual presentation, use a variety of content.
If your content feels data-heavy, add a story. If it feels story-heavy, add a strong data point. Try telling them about the history of the problem and paint a picture of a possible future. Use quotes to back up your points.
The more you surprise them with how dynamically you talk about your topic, the more engaged they’ll be.
Pop Your Design
To create easy and engaging design, keep it simple.
Limit your slides to one idea each. Many of our clients fear slide count. But slide count does not connect to the length of your presentation. Someone can present for an hour on one slide or five minutes on 20 slides.
We’ve seen both, and the latter is much more interesting. At Duarte, we say if you have 100 points to communicate in a presentation, create 100 slides.
It’s better to have numerous slides with one idea each than 10 slides with 10 ideas on each of them. That’s just too crowded, and your audience will likely be confused, especially if you’re showing charts or tables.
Make your content pop with simplicity and it will be much easier to follow.
On each individual slide, guide their eyes by highlighting what’s most important. Use visual hierarchy and contrast to send your audience to the thing that matters most. At Duarte, we use the squint test.
When you squint your eyes at the screen (as if you needed glasses to see it), as yourself ‘what’s popping?’ If the text, graphic or chart you want to pop isn’t doing so, you need to adjust your design.
Use color, font type, font size, italics, or create a graphic that guides the audience’s eye toward what’s most important.
Pop Your Delivery
Similar to popping your design, your delivery can let your audience know what’s most important, too.
To pop your content, highlight with your voice by using contrast. You want your virtual audience to perk up on the key moments. Try these voice contrasting tips to grab their attention:
- Slow down or over-articulate key words and phrases
- Pause before and after a key word
- Increase or decrease your volume (this one can be less obvious virtually than in person)
If you sound monotone or make your audience work hard to find the most important parts of your presentation, they’re likely to tune you out. Using vocal variety helps them stay out of that boredom default.
Virtual audiences listen with their ears and their eyes. So make sure you’re not only telling them what you want them to know. Make sure you also show them by moving your hands.
This way, you give them two sensory avenues to process what you’re saying. For those of you who find vocal variety challenging, this might be easier to tackle.
If your content is dense or tech-heavy, showing your audience might help them understand your content more clearly. Gestures will make you the presenter truly POP!
When your virtual presentation is one of many, you need to stand out. You want to be the best, most engaging, most interesting virtual presentation your attendees sit through all day.
Pop your content, design, and delivery by making it easy to understand and engaging, and we bet you’ll be the virtual presenter your audience remembers.
For more on delivering virtual presentations, watch the recording of Comm Together: Delivering Dynamic Virtual Presentations on YouTube or below.
Illustrated by Jonathan Valiente
Delivery, Presenting, Virtual communication, Visual thinking