With face-to-face presentations not viable for the near future, many of us have been thrown into the world of virtual presentations ala Zoom and other virtual platforms. If I have to sit through one more boring Zoom presentation I am going to scream! After a week where I sat through too many #$%!ing boring presentations, I am inspired to offer these four tips to bring your Zoom presentations alive and make them more engaging.
Bring your presentations to life and look good while you are doing it:
- Look good and sound good
- Get interactive
- Use PowerPoint slides sparingly
- Be personal and tell stories
1. Look Good and Sound Good
Here are some tips from the New York Times and My Pandemic Zoom Setup on how to set up your workspace so you look and sound your best:
- Get an external camera: As recommended in Wirecutter, I recently purchased the LogiTech c920 camera. As you can on the video below, this upgrade makes a real difference. Amazon has been sold out on this popular camera–I got mine at WalMart. Put the computer up on a stack of books so the camera is about at the top of your head. And then point it down into your eyes. Don’t have the webcam looking up at you, because that will create that “I can see up your nostrils” look.
- Bring in the light: For lighting, I’m using an affordable LED light from TaoTronics, which makes a great difference. It is recommended to use a lamp slightly behind the computer to light your face. I’ve been playing with using one of each side.
- Can you hear me? As explained in Inc., how you sound is almost as important as how you look. I’ve recently invested in both an external microphone (the highly recommended Blue Yeti) and a pair of Apple AirPods Pro headphones. Even a simple pair of wired ear buds will give you better sound than the built-in microphone in your laptop. However, for the highest quality sound an external microphone is recommended. Here is a quick comparison between how the Apple AirPods sound compared to the Blue Yeti.
- Consider your background: I recently attended a Zoom fundraiser where the MC’s ironing board was in the background! While this is so obvious, keep your background simple. If you use a custom background, use an image that supports your message. And consider only using it briefly, as they often distort your face and hands.
- Consider standing up rather than sitting: Standing can bring energy and aliveness to your presentation. Get creative on your setup. Check out the set-up I used for my recent Toastmaster’s speech where I wanted to be standing up. If you are standing up and your hands show, use them strategically. As you can see from the clip below, I tend to be a tad enthusiastic with my hands, which on Zoom can be distracting.
- What to wear?: Wear solid, bright colors and steer clear of shirts that have a busy pattern. I recently wore a bright red dress with white polka dots, which worked.
This is a great video, which summarizes many of these tips.
Below is a clip from my recent Toastmaster speech on How to Not be Deadly Boring on Zoom. Excuse the profanity in the introduction, but it refers to a fellow Toastmaster who is author of a book titled “A Field Guide to the F Word“. It covers the first two tips.
2. Get Interactive
To keep your audience engaged, utilize the tools Zoom that allow you to chat with your audience, put them in breakout rooms, or answer a survey question. In my recent speech above, I used the simple technique of asking a question. Check out this YouTube video for helpful guidance on how to use breakout rooms. For breakout rooms, provide participants some guidance on what to discuss. And if possible, assign one person in each room to be a facilitator. The other day I was whisked into a breakout room of six people with no directions on what to talk about and no assigned facilitator and the group floundered around for six painful, wasted minutes.
3. Use PowerPoint Sparingly
When speaking in person, using a PowerPoint ala a TED talk may work. But on Zoom, I personally find a typical presentation with slides deadly boring. Use slides sparingly to make a few key points, bring in some humor, or share an impactful image with one key message. If you want help making your images more impactful, check out our Custom Infographic offering. I love the tips offered in this article from the Harvard Business Review, “Nothing disengages a group more reliably than assaulting them with slide after slide of mind-numbing data organized in endless bullet points. It doesn’t matter how smart or sophisticated the group is, if your goal is engagement, you must mix facts and stories. We encourage people to determine the Minimum Viable PowerPoint (MVP) deck they need. In other words, select the least amount of data you need to inform and engage the group. Don’t add a single slide more.”
4. Be Personal and Tell Stories
Last week I saw about eight different Zoom presentations and only one presenter stood before the camera without hiding behind a PowerPoint slide. Be willing to look at your audience and show your face. Stand if you can, as that will add some energy to your presentation. Be personal. Tell engaging stories about your successes and challenges. Speak from the heart. Be vulnerable. Use props.
Incorporate these tips into your next Zoom presentation and let me know how it goes.
Check out our Looking Good package if you need support with an upcoming virtual presentation.
NOTE: Some of the Amazon links above are linked to my AmazonAssociate Account, which means if you buy something I get a small commission.