Equipment and environment:
● Raise your computer if using the built-in camera. The most flattering angle for the camera to capture your face is from the same level or a little above your face. Grab some books or a slim box, or use a laptop stand, and put your computer on top of it until the camera is right across from your face.
● Be aware of your audio. When presenting virtually, good quality audio is a must. Using your computer or phone audio is not as good as an external microphone as the quality can vary.
● Test, test, test. Be sure to test audio and video to make sure everything works, how to adjust/fix it quickly or to make sure it sounds and looks good. People may forgive bad video quality but if the sound is choppy and cuts out, you will lose them. At the same time of day and day of the week as your presentation, run a speed test (eg.speedtest.net) to determine your upload speed, which should be a minimum of 1.5 mb per second.
● Optimize your computer environment by closing all but the programs and tabs essential to your presentation and turn off any notifications so your computer won’t “ping” during your presentation.
● Adjust your lighting. The light source should come from in front of you. Avoid backlighting – which can make you look like a scary silhouette.
● Watch your background. What can people see behind you? Walk around your office or house and find a pleasant background. People love a good Iron Maiden poster but it will be distracting during your presentation.
● Use a mirror. If you can’t see your own video, place a mirror next to your computer to see your facial expressions.
● Use a good wifi connection or consider a wired connection. Advise anyone else in your house that you will be presenting virtually so they hold off on streaming to ensure you have the strongest connection.
Attire and body language:
● Relax your face. If you haven’t presented often online and/or are unfamiliar with the software, you may be looking at your screen with a worried or worse, panicked look on your face. Practice ahead of time.
● Watch your eyes. When you’re looking at the little dot (the camera) at the top of your computer screen, your audience will feel like you’re looking at them. If you need to look elsewhere – like on your computer or on your actual desk to refer to your materials. Just make sure that every so often you look at the camera..
● Dress the part. Even though participants can usually only see you from the shoulders up, wear something that looks great on you from the waist up.
● Speaking style. It is more important than ever to speak slowly and clearly. It is much more difficult for participants to process speech over a virtual presentation, where it’s harder to watch the presenter’s face for vocal and body language cues. Speaking quickly can easily get garbled so speak a bit slower than normal. It’s important to keep the mic away from your mouth; breathing sounds, lip smacking etc can be distracting.
● Imagine your audience. Imagine being there live with an audience in front of you. Being in a room by yourself may feel like a strange experience, so imagine people there and you will find your voice is livelier.
● Prepare – practice makes perfect. Practice your presentation in front of a small audience at home, or video-tape it ahead of time to see how it looks and sounds. Practice technical words so you don’t trip over them while presenting during the meeting.
● Be engaging – Ask questions, incorporate polls and feedback opportunities. Give your audience a reason to be tuned in and not looking at Instagram. Ensure each component of your talk is 6-8 minutes max - as it has been shown that is the average attention span for people consuming online content - before you move to something engaging or moving on to the next presenter.
● Guide the Audience – When screen sharing, if you are referring to something on the screen, describe where your cursor is going or what it is that you are referring to. Avoid saying "here" or "this" when describing something. Instead, try using more descriptive language: "Notice the box labeled 'sign in' in the upper-left corner of the home page." or "When reviewing the spreadsheet, in column H, row 34...". Identifying what is happening on the screen increases access for everyone attending the meeting.