7 tips for presenting online

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Our home lives have suddenly become our work lives, and everything is a bit more personal than it was 2 weeks ago. When presenting online, small changes can make a big difference. Here are 7 tips I’ve collected when presenting online, I hope you find them useful.

  1. The camera should be at eye level. It’s better for it to come from above than below but not so far below that you are looking up at everyone or it may make you look inferior. As most people’s computer desk is lower than eye level, the camera may be pointing upwards at you but be careful not to make this too accentuated or it may look strange. The camera should be positioned so your head is in the middle with some space around your head. Fill the frame. If you can, before the call, turn on your computer camera and check the frame.
  2. Background sounds can be muted in Teams with the latest update and there are tools out there for other platforms. Light should come from in front not behind the camera. Natural light is best, so a window in front is great. Your background should not distract from your face. Distractions are exaggerated and magnified on camera so check your frame, for example, shadows, things growing out of your head, and any visual distractions. Pets & babies can be fun – it’s all about being human – but keeping people engaged with your subject matter is more challenging online so try to keep distractions to a minimum.
  3. Your eyes – In order to avoid looking untrustworthy or nervous, look directly at the camera lens. It is tempting to look at the little picture of ourselves in the bottom corner on video calls, or the other people or the person speaking. But if it’s your turn to speak, try to look through the camera with the device slightly out of focus – this will produce the best result for your audience. When other people are speaking, you can look engaged by looking at the camera lens too.
  4. Your voice – To find the middle pitch, before the call speak (yell) as high as you can then as low as you can. You might seem mad to your neighbours but you will find your natural pitch, which is in between. I do this before presenting to make sure I am speaking in my natural key.
  5. Pace – While it may be tempting to rush, it is important to slow your pace when delivering to a remote audience. Extra pauses between points are essential. Without the visual cues that we would usually receive in person it becomes even more important to engage your audience with questions. A little tip, in Teams you can see when someone is breathing if the purple circle around their head vibrates. This may mean they would like to ask a question, so you can pause to give them an opportunity to speak.
  6. Tone – The camera will make you seem much less enthusiastic. TV presenters are trained to exaggerate not only their pitch (voices up and down), but control their breath to give more energy when they speak. When presenting online, amplify your enthusiasm. This may seem unnatural but will actually make what you say more impactful.
  7. Interaction – Gone are the pre-internet days of top down broadcast. Now it’s about sharing. ‘Uploading’ is as important as ‘downloading’.  I find Teams better for conversations or GoToWebinar for one-to-many. Asking questions of your audience during a presentation to confirm you are on the right track, such as Does that seem familiar? Is that how you work now? How do you see that happening in the future? will help people absorb what you are saying, and their answers might be helpful for you too.

My inspiration for this article came from @PatriciaSeabright who works with CEOs on presentation skills, (@ProfessionalAdvantage for sponsoring the training) the amazing @DanGable of Sprat.tv and @DexterMoscow of QVC Channel fame – thanks always to them for so generously sharing their guidance and experience with me.

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