2020 has changed how we used to conduct business. From remote work to zoom calls, distant and virtual conversations are the new norms of the business world. Conference calls and virtual meetings are the way that most of us are communicating in business at the moment, and chances are they are going to remain the way we keep in touch for some while. So ensuring that you present the best of yourself, via that little camera at the top of your screen, is really important.
Here are five presentation skills for video conferencing and zoom meetings you should take in consideration as you take your business online – whether it’s for business networking with coworkers, pitching your ideas to a potential sales prospect or delivering a speech at a virtual conference.
1. Pace Your Speech
It is difficult to capture the essence of an in-person conversation via video conference. But there are a few things you can do to accomplish this. Foremost is to pace yourself when speaking — slow down the pace of the conversation. Once you say something, give pause, so the other speaker has time to reply.
Also, when someone else is speaking, be sure to show you are listening by making nodding movements every so often. This will show not only that you are listening, but also that the speaker’s cameras did not freeze. Make sure these gestures are natural and not sudden, jerky movements.
2. Adapt Your Environment
A speech that works well in a live venue may not translate well to a virtual one. You may not realize it at first, but large gestures and other visual cues that you (sometimes unknowingly) use during a live speech won’t work in a virtual event. For this reason, you should tap into special materials for this delivery medium, such as a modified slide deck. This can help convey information or emotion that may not otherwise be communicated effectively across a digital medium.
3. Look Where Your Audience Is: The Camera
Virtual conferences are supposed to simulate you, as the speaker, talking directly to each viewer. The best way to accomplish this is to look directly into your web camera, not your screen. This gives the viewers a sense that you are making eye contact with them. We know it might feel a tad awkward to look at a camera while you talk, but this will help immensely for your storytelling.
Also, it will create a stronger sense of engagement with your audience because they will think you are talking directly to them. This is a very important feature for a successful virtual conference. Eye contact, even virtually, is what connects you to your audience.
4. Don’t Be Inanimate
An absence of all hand gestures will make you look disengaged and robotic. Speaking with your hands shows enthusiasm. Find the balance. We are able to distill our points when we use our hands to talk. Holding them still will just render you speechless.
However, when you are not talking but listening to someone else, then keep your hands in your lap. Don’t let them wander to scratch your nose or fidget with things on the desk. Then you’re being super distracting. You become the circus sideshow. If you want to help the main speaker, mirror their body language (within reason) as that makes the other person feel relaxed.
5. Organize Your Speech
Last but the most important thing to remember when delivering virtual presentations is that because the audience is not physically present and they clearly have an electronic device in front of them, it’s easier than ever for them to get lost. It is important for you to have a clear mind, an organized speech that you can summarize to your audience before presenting and then referring back to that summary when delivering to keep people on track.