Online presenting involves not only effective use of technology, but also creativity and a strategic approach. A well-done presentation can make all the difference in obtaining results and keeping the audience’s attention. Following these ten tips for online presenting can help you achieve your presentation goals.
Your presentation must contain good value for your audience, be well researched, and include content that is both useful and actionable. Educational online presenting will give your audience information they didn’t already know. Even if your presentation’s main goal is sales, online presenting will be more effective if you go beyond the sales pitch to provide actual value. Include plenty of references from trusted third parties, impartial studies, and informative content that your audience can actually use. This approach not only provides something of value to your audience, it also positions you and your company as the industry expert.
The second most important element of online presenting is to make it entertaining. Your primary online presenting goal may be to inform or to sell, but those two goals are accomplished in part by keeping your presentation entertaining. It is, after all, necessary to keep your audience’s attention. If they get bored, you’ll lose them very quickly. You may well have valuable information to present, but if it is not presented in the right way, it will not be absorbed. Go beyond the basic facts to include illustrations or case studies, or anecdotes that show how your information may be used in the real world.
Online presenting in its most basic form consists of a “talking head” and some slides with text and bullet points. However, in this form of online presenting, you may as well just print up a manual and distribute it. Effective online presenting goes beyond that. Differentiate your online presentation from a basic manual by incorporating attractive illustrations that relate to your topic. Bullet points and text are good, but keep it short, and make sure the text is not too cluttered or too small. If you are incorporating direct video feed, remain animated, and take a wider shot than the “talking head” view, and incorporate visual aids in your presentation.
Powerpoint offers very useful and intuitive ways to create good slides, but it’s too easy to just slap some text in there and call it done. In online presenting, keep your students’ interest by incorporating more visual elements to the slides, such as relevant illustrations and pictures. Don’t try to put too much text on a single slide. If it looks too cluttered, either eliminate some of the text, or break the cluttered slide into multiple slides.
You may know your subject well, and think you can “wing it”, but a script will prove very useful in effective online presenting. All of those short pauses while you collect your thoughts will only lead to a lost and distracted audience; the script will keep you flowing without hesitation. In addition, using a professionally-written script will help you to put your thoughts into words in the most effective and entertaining fashion. Most professional business presenters use script-writers for this purpose.
Most presentation software and web conferencing tools offer a great many useful features that will help in your online presenting initiative. Take time to learn about those features and make good use of them. For example, your software may include a recording feature, so your session can be recorded for later reference. Another common feature is polling, which lets you engage the audience to get instant feedback, which you can then share with the students in real time.
What kind of Internet connection is your audience likely to have? Will they all be in offices with dedicated T1 lines? If so, then you should have no trouble with video feeds and heavy graphics. But if you will have many home users, which may be on slower connections or even dial-up lines, you will need to keep those bandwidth-hogging features at bay and conduct your online presenting project accordingly.
Online presenting overcomes a great many challenges in terms of distance and travel, but it is also important to keep in mind that you may have attendees from many different time zones, or even different countries. The best time for you may not be the best time for your counterparts in Zurich. Scheduling appropriately is an important part of online presenting, and be sure to inform all participants of the time schedule clearly so that there is no misunderstanding.
There are three reasons for doing a complete run-through of your presentation beforehand: First, to make sure you are comfortable with the material, to make sure you are comfortable with the presentation technology, and lastly, to make sure everything works as expected. The difference between a good presentation and a poor one can be something as simple as not knowing how to use a simple software feature, or encountering an unexpected glitch because something was not set up properly.
Audience participation is good, but effective online presenting will keep control over it. Just as in a regular classroom, one or two people can dominate a virtual classroom discussion. Make use of the technology to encourage everyone to participate, and enforce time limits for discussions and responses.