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Prior to Covid, speaking was all about reading your audience. Whether you were presenting an intracompany talk or a conference keynote it was crucial to see how your content was being received in real-time and if needed, shift gears to ensure your audience was both informed and engaged. However, over a year into the pandemic as most presentations have moved online, “reading the room” can no longer be the barometer for determining the success of your delivery. Below are some tips to help guide you through presenting in a post-pandemic world.
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1. Be theatrical
While it is always important to be authentic when presenting, a virtual presentation is akin to a stage performance. Your “stage” is now a small virtual box. Therefore, your energy level, as well as your gestures, should be more pronounced than they normally would be if you were delivering the presentation in person. Virtual fatigue is real, and this will help to keep your audience alert and engaged.
2. Bring the fun
Think about what you can do that will be visually stimulating to your audience. This could include things like wearing bright colors, having a fun background, or even having props. If you give presentations to the same audience on an ongoing basis, think about how you can change it up. One idea is to change your background or props based on the seasons or upcoming holidays. You can even tell your attendees about a theme for an upcoming session such as the 1960s. You can encourage attendees to post a photo of their best 1960s look to social media with a dedicated hashtag to generate buzz. You can even have a prize for the attendee that posts the best ensemble.
3. Be informal
The most sought-after speakers are not just subject matter experts now. They are those that can deliver personality. Even if it is mainly one-sided, as a speaker you want to be as conversational as you can be. This is not the time to tone down your personality traits but rather to amplify them to maintain interest.
4. Say less
Even before Covid, the attention span of people is short. Your lecture-style delivery should be short as well. Try not to talk without interaction for longer than 15-20 minutes before having a scheduled question or activity. Not only will people tune you out but often you are competing with other distractions and obligations they have at home as well.
5. Don’t leave some attendees behind
As there are more options going forward for hybrid presentations, attendees may have the option to attend in person or to attend virtually. If your attendees are split, make sure you are acknowledging and interacting with those that are not there live and in person as well. For example, during Q & A make sure you take questions from both the live audience and the virtual audience so that neither segment feels left out.
Finally, try to look at the opportunity. If you dreaded giving presentations before Covid, it may seem less stressful to do so on a virtual platform where attendees are not looking at you in person. It can be a positive to use the time to hone your confidence and your message. And you can do it all in your sweatpants!
Jennifer is the founder and CEO of Purposeful Networking. Her expertise is in strategic networking, communications, public speaking, and workplace relations. She is also a TEDx speaker who does motivational speaking on resilience and change. You can follow Jennifer at @areyounetworked or visit her website https://www.purposefulnetworking.com/.