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How to Navigate and Nail Your Next Virtual Presentation

Transforming your in-house presentation to one that’s done virtually isn’t as simple as enabling your video and opening your mouth. When it comes to communicating with colleagues and peers, technology is the only consistent pathway for us to do so effectively. This leaves any presenter with not only the challenge of navigating the tech world but competing with more distractions than would usually be encountered during an in-house presentation.

Informative content and dedicated preparation are two ways to ensure a great presentation, but how do you know the audience is on the same page and consistently following your thought process?

Keep it Short and Simple

Is it surprising to hear that the human attention span is eight seconds? Probably not, especially with the impact of social media, technology, and the like. When giving a presentation virtually, you aren’t only battling attention spans, you’re battling a litany of distractions.

Keep the audience engaged by staying concise and direct. If you’re giving a longer-form presentation, like a webinar, break up your ideas into specific bullet points and make it aesthetically pleasing. You don’t need to think about just content audio engagement, what you’re visually displaying is just as important for keeping the audience reeled in.

Prep Your Audience

Before the presentation, set expectations for the audience. If you want an audience to pay attention, make them commit to a distraction-free block of time. Encourage them to turn off notifications or silence their phones, and remind them to mute their mics at the start of the presentation. Don’t assume anything.

Close Out Windows You Don’t Need

Distractions apply to the presenter, too, especially if your presentation is one that has you sharing your screen. Close out all the windows on your desktop that don’t apply to what you want the audience to see. It looks clunky if a presenter is fumbling around trying to bring up what they are speaking about. Or, even worse, shares sensitive information not meant for everyone’s eyes.

It’s not a bad idea to turn off all your notifications, too, even if programs aren’t actively running. Think about the taskbar on the bottom of your desktop. How many times has your email been minimized, and notifications pop up from there? Colleagues don’t need easy access to your email inbox.

Test Equipment Ahead of Time

This step should be first in your presentation preparation. Testing equipment ahead of time can be the difference between a presentation that goes off without a hitch and one that comes complete with feedback, a spotty connection, or missing information. Have you ever witnessed a presentation where the presenter was hard to hear or wasn’t sharing their screen at the appropriate times? There’s no level of engagement there. Make sure you head into a presentation knowing your technology is spot on. Taking this action gives you the confidence to perform the type of presentation your content supports.

Focus on Transitions

Keeping an audience engaged throughout a presentation has its challenges, let alone when transitioning from one topic to the next. Rewind to your preschool days. Think of each topic in the presentation as part of a connect the dots puzzle. As you transition from one idea to the next, make sure your transitions smoothly get you and the audience there. When transitions happen, it’s a great time to not only keep your engaged audience engaged but get your lost audience members re-engaged.

Your content might rock, but it means nothing if the audience isn’t engaged. What techniques work best for you when it comes to minimizing distractions during a virtual presentation? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out Why You Can’t Stop Hiring and Job Searching at Year End.

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