10 Tips For Giving Effective Virtual Presentations

Written

10 Tips For Giving Effective Virtual Presentations

What to know before you go live.
An illustration of a computer screen with messy notes and graphs around it.
Presenting online? Try these suggestions to improve your results. | Illustration by Tricia Seibold

As audiences go global and you need to reach more people through technology (including webinars, conference calls and teleconference), you must consider the challenges to connecting with a virtual audience. Here I pinpoint 10 valuable best practices to ensure you communicate successfully.

1. Be Brief

Audiences begin to lose attention after roughly 10 minutes of hearing from the same presenter. If you have more than 10 minutes of content, use interactive activities to keep your audience engaged (for example, take a poll, give quizzes, or ask audience members for their opinions via chat).

2. Be Simple

Keep slides simple — avoid too many words, graphics and animation features. Less is definitely more!

An illustration of a lamp
Light yourself well | Illustration by Tricia Seibold

3. Be a TV Personality

Look straight into your camera, not the screen. Wear clothing that is neutral in color (no plaids or stripes). Light yourself well and from above. Be mindful of what appears behind you in the background. Invest in a good microphone.

4. Be Standing

Even though your audience cannot see you, stand when you present. This allows you to stay focused and use good presentation delivery skills such as belly breathing, vocal variety, and pausing.

5. Be Prepared

Practice delivering your presentation with your technology in advance of your talk. Make sure all of the features of the technology work. Record your practice using the recording feature of your tool. Watch and listen to learn what works and what you can improve.

6. Be Assisted

Have someone available to deal with technical issues and to field email/text questions. Also, if you have multiple remote audience members in one location, be sure to pick one of them to be your “eyes and ears.” Ask them to queue up questions and facilitate discussion on your behalf.

7. Be Specific

Ask pointed questions to avoid too many people answering at once. For example, rather than ask, “Are there any questions?” try “Who has a question about the solution I provided?” Set a ground rule that people state their names prior to speaking.

An Illustration of two pictures of people.
Imagine your audience | Illustration by Tricia Seibold

8. Be Synchronized

Transitions are critical. You must connect what you just said to what is coming next when you move from point to point. Transitions between topics and slides are good opportunities to get people reengaged to your talk.

9. Be Connected

Imagine your audience even though you can’t see them. You can place pictures of audience members behind your camera so you can look at people as you present.

10. Be Early

Encourage your audience to access your call or webinar in advance of the start time so you can iron out any technical issues in advance and get them familiar with the technology.

Matt Abrahams is a Stanford GSB organizational behavior lecturer, author, and communications coach.

For media inquiries, visit the Newsroom.
Explore More

Insights

Think Fast, Talk Smart is a podcast that offers best practices and techniques you can use to improve your public, virtual, and high stakes communication.
May 26, 2020
Audio

The Science of Influence: How to Persuade Others And Hold Their Attention

In this podcast episode, we discuss communication techniques that can help open people up to your ideas.

Insights

An older woman standing at her desk. Credit: iStock/Portra
May 18, 2020
Written

Are You Ready for Your Encore?

If you’re thinking about a late-life career shift, here’s some advice from three people who did it right.

Insights

Think Fast, Talk Smart is a podcast that offers best practices and techniques you can use to improve your public, virtual, and high stakes communication.
May 7, 2020
Audio

High-Stakes Communication: How to Manage Anxiety Speaking in Front of Others

In this podcast episode, Matt Abrahams shares research-supported techniques for gaining confidence in high-stakes communication situations.