Tips for Preparing an Engaging Virtual Presentation
When it comes to preparing your presentation for a virtual event, there are a few extra considerations required. Unlike an in-person event, a virtual event requires the presenter to work a little harder to grab the attention of the participants as it is easy for them to become distracted.
To assist you in your preparation, we have prepared this guide that provides useful tips for engaging and maintaining the attention of your audience throughout your virtual presentation.
1. Apply the standard presentation best-practices
There are certain basics that all presenters need to adhere to, whether using Powerpoint or Google Slides or Prezi and whether presenting physically or online. These basics include:
- Place a few words per slide.
- Maintain a unified, simple font throughout the slides.
- Apply simple and easily readable graphics and charts.
- Format text to make it easier to digest and to emphasize key points.
- Avoid clashing color combinations and be wary of color-mood associations.
2. Be prepared for visual failures
Always assume that some members in the audience may not see you or your presentation well. They may be listening only or viewing you on a small device or may have connectivity problems. To help you with this scenario:
- If it’s important for the audience to see and understand something on your slide (i.e. photos, charts), be sure to give a basic description of it.
- While presenters are generally advised against reading slides, it may be necessary to read or summarize your written points in a virtual presentation so those who aren’t able to see well can follow along.
3. Remain direct and concise
Generally speaking, virtual presentations should be shorter and more concise than in-person presentations. That is because a virtual audience has more opportunities to become distracted due to the various notifications they may receive on their device as well the environment they are in which may not be very quiet. Having a very long presentation will make it more difficult for you to keep a virtual audience engaged.
4. Use a catchy central theme or a story
A virtual setting may make it hard for you to employ your body language and gestures as effectively as you would on the ground. To avoid losing your ability to emphasize points with your body language, use a strong central theme, catchy headlines, and/or a story format to help your audience follow your points and stay focused from start to finish.
5. Avoid sharing videos and animations
Videos and animations are most likely to lag when shared in a virtual presentation, which may create a frustrating experience for your audience. Remember that your participants may be viewing your presentation with different connection speeds. If a video is a crucial component of your session, you can designate a video booth or you can post a link in your notes for the audience to view it later.
6. Be extra specific when pointing something out
It may feel unnatural or redundant at first, but you’ll need to be extra specific when pointing out or referring to certain items in a virtual presentation. Don’t assume that saying things like “this column” or “that image” will be understood. There may be a delay between what you say and what the participants see. So, help your audience understand where you are by using specific descriptions and words.
7. Place visual cues on your slides
Another way you can make it easier for your audience to follow along and to understand what you are referring to is to use specific visual cues throughout your slides. You can easily refer to your slides and help your audience to follow by:
- Adding a number and a header to every slide
- Adding a title to all graphs and charts
- Adding labels to all columns and rows
8. Create interactive points every 5 minutes
If you simply read or explain your slides, you’ll easily lose the audience interest. Instead, you need to plan interactive elements throughout your virtual presentation. Ways to keep your audience engaged can include:
- Conducting a poll with the platform’s polling tool.
- Allowing questions during your presentation.
- Conducting a quiz or drills throughout the session.
- Actively drawing out your main points into a chart.
9. Call for the attention of your audience
There are certain phrases that you can use to draw the attention of your audience back to your virtual presentation. These phrases include:
- “This is important…”
- “Look at…”
- “Pay attention to…”
- “This must be understood…”