These past few months, we have been spending hours on virtual meetings and this is causing us "zoom fatigue." We've all been there. It's been a long day in front of your computer and now you're stuck listening to a never-ending monologue. Your tired eyes are glancing down at your social media feed on your phone and you are sinking lower into your chair. You hope you aren't "that boring" when you are presenting on zoom.
You can control how you deliver your next virtual presentation in a concise, engaging and fun manner. An impressive presentation might not end zoom fatigue, but your audience will leave the room feeling that it was worthwhile listening to you.
Here we share six tips to help you to prepare and deliver an outstanding talk:
1. Know your audience
Who is your audience? What do they need to know? You don't want to waste your listeners time so first you need to know exactly what you want them to know after your presentation.
Answering these questions helps you to adapt the tone, language and level of complexity according to your public. When presenting to experts in your field, do not shy away from details and technical vocabulary. However, if speaking to a mixed audience, avoid jargons, keep your language simple and go straight to the point.
2. Organise your presentation
Consider the presentation guidelines and time limitations, and structure your speech in three sessions: introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction tells the question you will answer, and critical points to be covered. The body contains the argumentation to answer your questions. To conclude, summarise your ideas and indicate future actions considered. The introduction and conclusion, each use twenty per cent of total presentation time, while the body takes sixty per cent.
3. Have a conversation, not a monologue
Start your presentation with thought-provoking questions or a prop to grab your audience’s attention. It is crucial to treat your speech as a conversation. You can engage with your audience by asking questions and collecting their responses using poll, text chat, voice or annotation. In the absence of physical cues, short pauses of a few seconds are even more important after a question or a key point. Pauses reinforce the topic and let it sink in, before you move on to develop your argumentation.
Use analogies when explaining complex topics, as this will ease your audience into your argumentation. Some best practices indicate that adopting a storytelling style allows the presenter to walk the audience through the argumentation more easily and successfully.
4. Effective visual aid and props
Our field of vision has been greatly narrowed by the move online. Where we once looked at the front of a room, we are now limited to a small screen. You must use a professional powerpoint, images, and physical props to illustrate what you have to say. Try to use colourful and exciting items but avoid dazzling visual supports that detract the audience from your presence. Never use your visual aids to avoid eye contact or engaging with your audience. A common mistake is to show wordy powerpoints and read the slides. Do that and lose your audience!
5. Practice makes perfection
Be prepared to make a good impression. Rehearsing makes you a more confident speaker and people notice that. Your audience is giving you their time and consideration, so give them your best performance!
Rehearse your presentation in front of a mirror or present to a friend or family member. This may seem uncomfortable, but when you present online, the feeling is very similar to presenting into a mirror. Best not to be caught off guard by giving it a try in advance.
Doing practice runs will allow you to check you are within the time limit, to avoid rushing the live delivery. Ask for feedback on your pace, tone and eye contact. The more you practice your presentation skills the better you will get at it! Learn how to deliver effective presentations with our workshop Graduate Presentation Skills Essentials (GPSC28).
6. Body language and your environment count
You are talking to real people so use body language to your benefit. On zoom, eye contact is crucial so ensure your camera is centered on your face. Keep eye contact as if you were delivering an in-person presentation. If you can, stand up while presenting but avoid exaggerated mannerisms and hand gestures.
Do not forget to breathe! Speak at a calm and steady pace so that you can pronounce the words properly. Pause between sentences to give people time to think. Finally, dress professionally despite presenting from your bedroom! Experts say that dressing up boosts confidence!
Last, to have a successful virtual delivery, check some specific aspects like a neutral background, test your technology and eliminate undesired noises.
Ready to practice our suggestions? Join the annual Concordias Three Minute Thesis Competition. We coach doctorate and master’s to explain their research in a concise manner, without jargons, and in three minutes!