One day Chuang Tzu and a friend were walking by a river. ‘Look at the fish swimming about,’ said Chuang Tzu, ‘They are really enjoying themselves.’ ‘You are not a fish,’ replied the friend, ‘So you can’t truly know that they are enjoying themselves.’ Chuang Tzu replied, ‘You are not me. So how do you know that I do not know that the fish are enjoying themselves?’
With your next virtual presentation, I want you to channel Chuang Tzu’s confidence. Not about fish, about your audience. Your audience is listening, engaged and enjoying themselves. Guaranteed! So here are 3 success secrets. They focus on having your audience at hello.
1. Show your face
We love the human face; we are hard-wired to respond to it. Portraiture is one art practice that remains popular over time. As a presenter you MUST show your face like you would in a face-to-face presentation.
Turn your camera ON. Yes, unless you are on Interpol’s most wanted list?
Invest in a reasonable webcam, lights and audio. YouTube is awash with ideas, depending on your budget. I have listed some recommendations later. Online the audience has to work harder cognitively, so make it easy for them with good video, lights and audio.
Record yourself on camera (without an audience). Use the feedback to set your camera framing for success. Avoid the ‘ugly maker angle’ when your audience is looking up your nose. An unforgiveable rookie mistake.
Invest in good quality lights. Lights can make you and your camera feed look fabulous. Channel you favourite TV anchor – always stunningly lit up.
Optimise your audio. Bad audio makes your audience’s brains shrivel. Audiences will happily turn off video and listen if your audio is good. But bad audio makes people bail.
2. Stand and deliver
A simple success secret is to stand and present. How often online do you see presenter after presenter sitting? This might be the norm, but don’t settle for it.
IRL presenting we almost always stood. As a presenter you are 110% (you read that right) more dynamic standing. Standing is a power pose in the virtual world. The camera should always show you waist up. This is conversational, the perfect ‘having coffee with you distance’ and puts your audience at ease. It is also important that your audience sees your hands. Hands are significant behavioural cues for your audience.
The first time the audience sees you, you must stand facing the camera, waist up, hands on display, with a smile and ready for action. This power pose guarantees capturing your audience’s attention. After that, depending on how you are using other media (which I will cover in later posts), I don’t mind seeing just a tiny head on screen! But please regularly all the way through, revert to showing us your full face.
3. Cool it, Compel, Connect
Participants can spend the first minute to two shuffling in online, getting a coffee, so consider waiting two minutes. Consider using a holding slide with music, a small show reel, something that says the session will start shortly. A virtual presenter recently made the mistake of starting with a killer opening only to have the majority of participants miss out. Cool it at the start, for a minute or two. Then have the camera open on you standing up.
The riptide of virtual presenting convention is to start by asking for a yay in chat. Or asking people to tell you where they are dialling in from. This start is easy and safe, but audiences are tired of it. One grumpy person responded at a virtual event ‘My third zoom session today and this same question third time today – so no!’
Remember how IRL you had mastered the firm (but not death grip) handshake and steady eye contact (but not creepy) at the same time. This wasn’t a ninja move but took some practice. Online too demands a two-pronged approach to your starts.
First, compel with your beginning (asking for a yay doesn’t cut it) and immediately go to chat to check-in and connect. Here are some choices for starting with fire:
- Ask a question that ties in and applies to the topic that follows
- Start by sharing a story (my favourite) or
- Use a stat or a big data point. For example, ‘In our lifetime one in three people will suffer from anxiety attacks’.
Start with fire to engage and inspire your audience. Connect with them immediately in chat, Ask for something specific in chat that your audience can respond to. Your audience will lean in for more.
This is the first in a series of posts. In the next few weeks, I will share how to craft compelling content, and how to enchant an online audience. I can also work with your leaders and teams, showing them how to shine with their virtual presentations.
What are your tips for virtual presentation success? What do you want me to cover? Please share. I love hearing from you.
*Story source: Zen stories to tell your neighbours.
Suggestions for a professional virtual set up:
Lights: Elgato Key Light air (you need two).
Access 101 Story Ideas
Explore the depths of your imagination as you immerse yourself in tales of love, loss, triumph, and transformation. Each story idea is a springboard to craft your unique masterpiece, infusing your voice and perspective to make it truly your own. Let these story ideas be the stepping stones to your next business success.