Covid-19 has changed how Conferences are organized, at least for the foreseeable future. Hybrid meetings, with both virtual and in-person attendance, are here to stay, according to many leading industry planners. Those who miss the benefits of in-person networking, social connection, and live audience interaction in the room, will continue to participate in-person, while those whose schedules, funds, and other considerations limit their availability to travel, can participate virtually.
If you are a speaker or presenter, by now you’ve probably had some experience with online platforms, and understand that to successfully engage audiences, you’ve had to adjust your style, and upgrade your tech skills. Everything from graphics, to your appearance, to how your room is set up, can affect how the person watching remotely feels—if they feel they are a part of your presentation, or just watching it from the sidelines.
Here are our best tips to give an engaging online presentation:
- Because speaking online doesn’t have the advantage of face-to-face contact and you don’t have the energy of stage presence, your performance will work best if the content is laser focused, with a clear message and concrete takeaways.
- Know the demographics of your audience, and develop a style with the right tone to speak to that audience.
- When performing to a camera instead of a live audience, visualize your favorite person on the other side of the camera lens, and speak directly to them. Being personal and accessible is important. Modify your posture to look like you’re in a conversation as opposed to sitting stiffly in a chair behind a desk.
- Test out your technology beforehand, and have a back-up plan if your internet goes down. This could include using your cell phone.
- Know the theme of the conference and the context of your presentation. Are you the first of the day? Are there other speakers before or after you? When possible, tailor your speech so that it is congruent with the environment you are giving it in.
- Use the technology you have to elevate your presentation. Live polls, chats, and Q & A’s are all good ways to get audience feedback and read the room. You can add pre-recorded elements and videos to add interest and layers.
- In some cases, pre-recording a keynote speech works well if the quality is higher than you would be able to get otherwise. In this situation, the presenter should be live to answer questions, make remarks, and inject a personal touch to the presentation.
The ability to connect with hundreds or thousands of people simultaneously, across the globe, is perhaps one of the best things to come out of our experience with the Covid-19 pandemic. Though Zoom and other video conferencing platforms existed before, the will to use them wasn’t a priority. Technology is ever-evolving to make the virtual experience more enjoyable and accessible, opening new possibilities for engagement. Though nothing will replace the thrill of being in the same room with others, sharpening our skills so that when we do speak, teach, and converse online, we are at our best, is something all of us could benefit from.