When your Live Presentation Goes Virtual, Here are 3 Ways to Adjust your Approach

Professional speaking engagements are prone to the same unpredictability as any other event in your life. A conference or seminar may encounter threatening weather or a venue become unavailable at the last minute. Making rapid changes to accommodate the unexpected could mean you face talking to a computer screen instead of a packed ballroom or breakout session. A big change like this may be disappointing or even throw you off your game but there are things you can do to reinvent your presentation for a virtual event. Here are three ways to adjust to a virtual audience and still delivery a persuasive presentation.

 Understand the logistics

Just because your topic has not changed doesn’t mean it is business as usual when it comes to the delivery. If you are scheduled as a virtual speaker, find out what platform the event will use and get familiar with it. Not all teleconferencing software operates the same way. Just because you use WebEx all the time, it doesn’t mean you will encounter the same experience with Zoom. Ask for a dry run with the technical team so you can get accustomed to how to navigate the options. Be sure to ask about the support the event will provide during your virtual talk. Will they provide a moderator to direct question from the participants? Will they run your presentation slide deck for you? Will they mute participants to avoid background noise? Provide a list well in advance of any technical questions you may have. You certainly don’t want to learn as you go during your presentation!

Adjust for your surroundings

Unlike standing on a stage where the lights are bright and you have plenty of space to move around, a virtual presentation confines you to the space in front of a computer screen. Make the most of it! Consider your background and lighting. If the teleconference platform you are using has the ability to project a background behind you, create a branded digital background as a way to stay top of mind throughout your presentation. Branding is always important so include it on your PowerPoint if you are using one. Take care to create and curate your surroundings if you think it may be seen by the participants. Need to use a riser for your computer to get the best angle? Do it! Need to spruce up your office background? Put a plant or flowers behind you. Keep it simple and interesting without looking cluttered or distracting. Be mindful of what you wear for your presentation. Dress to impress based on the event’s tempo (that includes wearing pants!) Same rules of professionalism would apply even if you are doing a remote presentation. Not eating on camera, look your best, and speak clearly.

Adapt the presentation

What works in front of a live audience may not work as well in front of a computer screen. Larger than life gestures and other visual cues simply don’t translate. Modify your movements and scale back your presentation deck.  The more face time you give to the audience, the more intimate the presentation will feel. Virtual presentations are a new and exciting opportunity for seasoned speakers. Make the most of it!