One of the key elements of a successful presentation is how well the presenter maintains audience engagement. When you’re in the room with your audience, you can use your physical presence to assist in this engagement and deliver a presentation, training session, meeting update or announcement that is attention grabbing, and attention keeping. If you take away the physical presence though, this becomes far more challenging.
In this post, we’ll explore some of the critical tips you should follow in order to keep your audience’s attention and deliver engaging video-conference presentations or run an effective online meeting.
Prepare your agenda
Key to an effective online presentation or meeting is preparing an agenda that clearly states;
a) the purpose of the call and the expected outcomes AND
b) they key areas that will be discussed or covered.
This will ensure that you stay focused and productive during the course of the presentation/meeting and are providing clear direction to the people involved. It also helps set a comfortable pace, where the participants can feel like they’re achieving something at every step and working towards something tangible.
In order to make your agenda as effective as possible, send it to everyone that will be participating early enough that they have time to gather information or collect thoughts on the meeting points. There’s nothing more annoying than having to schedule another meeting because the answers or resolutions you seek require research or reports that the parties involved don’t have available. If specific information is required to be shared by others on the call, make sure this is stated clearly on the agenda, together with who is responsible so they are prepared on the day.
A simple way to hold people’s attention is to make them the centre of attention. Encouraging your audience to participate in your presentation or meeting ensures that they’re focusing on what you’re saying as they may be called upon to respond. Wherever possible, invite feedback or responses from your audience, ideally by using their name. Ask for their opinion, get them to elaborate on someone else’s answer, and try to give all participants an equal opportunity to speak. Remember that discussion is great and can be productive, but use your agenda to curtail the conversation if it’s veering off topic.
Another way to invite participation is creating material that’s worth conversing with! If you’re giving a webinar or similar presentation where you’ll be using a slide deck/powerpoint presentation then you’ll need to consider how the design of it attracts attention.
Avoid having very text-heavy slides as people on the call will start to read the slides and drift from listening to what you’re saying. Your slides should match your agenda and state short and sharp dot points that you can then expand upon when speaking.
Eye-catching images or infographics are also a great way to hold attention. Data-driven graphics that you can elaborate on, or images that illustrate a thought or concept you’re proposing are far more intriguing than a thesis crammed into the slides.
Learn the software
Technology and software is getting easier and more intuitive everyday. However, if you’re going to be using an unfamiliar video/tele-conference platform (let’s face it, there are now so many different ones out there!) be sure that you’ve practiced using it before the presentation or meeting is due to start. Technical difficulties are an annoying waste of time and drains focus and attention like nothing else.
If you have an important external meeting coming up, a good idea is to host the meeting internally first so you can test the video-conference technology and possibly any switches between different platforms that you’ll need to make in the final meeting. This will allow you time to work out any glitches in advance and so ensure everything runs smoothly on the day.
Good quality audio
Undeniably the most critical point of meetings that occur online or phone is audio. We’ve all had those meetings where it’s an absolute strain to hear everyone, it’s beyond frustrating for the audience, infuriating for the presenter, and a huge waste of time and energy to all involved.
If you plan to host many video/tele-conferences, webinars, or other online meetings then you need to invest in a good quality microphone for your computer. If you’re using speakers as well, do not face the microphone towards them or you’ll attract feedback (that high-pitched whining noise) which is guaranteed to make your audience hit the mute button.
If you’re using a conference speaker phone, then it’s important to have the microphone positioned correctly. Ensure that you have it close enough for proper speech intelligibility, but not so close that it picks up the noise of your clothes rustling (particularly important if you’re wearing a tie, scarf, or clothes with baggy sleeves).
Recording and feedback
Feedback is a critical component of furthering your abilities and presentation confidence. If you’re hosting a webinar or online training session, be sure to record the process (remember to tell the audience!). This way you can view it back and objectively assess your performance. If you’ve engaged a presentation coach, send a copy to them as well so that you can gain valuable insights into your strengths and weaknesses. While critically analysing your own performance is great, you should also aim to collect as much feedback from the participants as possible. Shortly following the presentation, send an email around requesting feedback. Get this communication out quickly so it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind.
Meetings can be a little harder to record, depending on the subject matter. If you’re unable to record the meeting, then ensure someone in the meeting is designated to take notes and communicate action points. Your feedback here will likely come internally, so once the call is over have a short debrief with your team and discuss what you thought went well and where you think you may have lost the crowd. Remember that feedback can be hard to hear sometimes, but it’s an invaluable step to improving your presentation skills.
Master your video-conference presentations and effectively manage your online meetings with secondnature
Whether you’re delivering a presentation in a boardroom, having a phone meeting, hosting a video conference, or speaking from a lectern to a full assembly, presentations are a necessity in the corporate world, and the power of speech is paramount. Mastering the art of giving engaging and effective presentations, and being a clear, confident, impactful communicator, is critical for your personal recognition and professional development. Stand out and be heard with exceptional presentation skills training. Get in touch with secondnature today.
Written By Belinda Huckle
Founder and Managing DirectorRead Bio
Belinda is the founder and managing director of secondnature. With a determination to drive a paradigm shift in the delivery of presentation skills training, she is a strong advocate of a more personal and sustainable presentation skills training methodology.
She believes in a training approach that harnesses people’s unique personality to build their own authentic presentation style and personal brand.
Belinda is currently helping to transform the presentation skills of people in organisations such as BBC Worldwide, DHL, ESRI, Heineken, MARS Inc., Moody’s, Pfizer, Roche, Triumph and Walmart – to name just a few.