11 Tips To Modify In-Person Presentations For Virtual Audiences

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11 Tips To Modify In-Person Presentations For Virtual Audiences

Written by: Expert Panel®, Forbes Councils Member

With so many events and meetings moving from physical spaces to the digital realm, converting traditional, in-person presentations into virtual formats is a valuable skill professionals are honing today. 

If you have to create a digital version of your in-person presentation, how can you make sure you still deliver your message properly and keep your audience engaged?

Below, 11 members of Forbes Coaches Council explore important steps in this process, based on their own experiences converting and delivering in-person presentations virtually.

Forbes Coaches Council members offer tips for modifying in-person presentations for virtual audiences.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Plan Every Step In Advance

I now think of presentations as well-choreographed events. I plan every step in advance. I have more breaks in my speech so that I can engage with the audience. I call on people directly to see if they have anything to add. I tell more anecdotes, which are more impactful and better retained. And I definitely arrive with my lighthearted, humorous and authentic self so that everyone feels at ease. – Beth Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald Coaching and Consulting

2. Focus On The Contact

Eliminate the “presentation” and focus on the contact. Virtual environments are an impersonal means of connection, and once you put up a presentation, you give the audience permission to disengage and multitask. Instead, drive eye contact and get up into the camera. Ask questions and volunteer people to answer. Create interactive exercises and keep the overall length brief with plenty of takeaways for reflection. – Brad Cousins, Ingage Human Capital Strategies

3. Prepare Relevant Visuals And Practice Virtual Cues

Preparation is key. You may have delivered a program hundreds of times in the past, but that doesn’t mean it’ll transfer seamlessly from a live program to a virtual space. Go through your visuals and consider their relevance in a virtual format. Understand that your body language and facial expression don’t always transfer well online, so you’ll need to use other cues to get your point across. Practice! – Julie Fisher, Your Digital Guardian

4. Build In More Opportunities For Audience Involvement

Remember that a virtual audience is less captive than an in-person one. So build in more opportunities to involve the audience in your presentation. Consider surveying the audience in advance so that you can drop in real information sourced directly from the group. Audience members lean into personally relevant information. – Stacey Staaterman, Stacey Staaterman Coaching & Consulting

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5. Test It Out On A Discerning Audience

Test your talk with a discerning audience first. Do not assume that your “great” in-person presentation will translate; likewise, don’t assume that it won’t be great. Assemble a few critics who want to help and test your talk before you give it to find out how much of what you did translates. Your audience will surprise you. Maybe your timing does work online. Assume nothing, and you may be pleasantly surprised. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.

6. Set A Clear Intention

Make sure to set a clear intention. Deliver and engage in a way that moves your audience and connects them to the purpose of the presentation—and be yourself! People, presenters included, limit themselves through their mindsets. Befriend the virtual environment and the opportunities it provides to present in creative ways that were not possible in traditional, in-person settings. Relax, and think “growth mindset.” – Bree Luther, Inspired Science Coaching

7. Set The Tone And Energy With Music

In virtual spaces, you have to set the tone and energy; you can’t rely on the room or the environment. Adding music is a great way to bring energy to your talk. Create a virtual “waiting room” and play high-energy music with a custom “welcome” slide. Use music during breaks or during the time you give the audience to complete action plans or reflect. Play music at the end as people leave. It sets a high-energy tone, and it’s fun! – Krista Neher, Boot Camp Digital

8. Use Breakout Rooms

Virtual trainings need to be extremely interactive to keep participants’ attention. Break them up into pairs and triads to discuss a specific question related to the subject. This allows participants to interact and strengthen bonds. When not in breakout rooms, utilize role play between participants, and spotlight it so that everyone is focused. – Dan Messinger, Cream of the Crop Leaders

9. Leverage The Chat Function

In switching to virtual presentations, leverage the chat function to increase audience engagement. Start the presentation by asking about the audience’s level of knowledge on the subject. Since the physical act of writing notes can help us learn, so can typing in responses. Ask your audience to enter questions in chat so that you can select the relevant ones to answer and control the flow. – Kelly Huang, Genesis Advisers

10. Use Your Intimate Voice

When presenting in a physical space, you should speak to the entire audience while orienting yourself toward individuals in the audience. That’s your public voice. When presenting in a virtual space, you should orient yourself to the entire audience (the camera), but speak as if you are speaking to each person individually. That is your intimate voice. – Theodore May, Theodore May

11. Shorten Content To The Key Points

Shorten the content to the key points and try to make it more engaging. It’s really easy for people to drift off and be distracted in a virtual environment, so pausing between main points to allow the audience to engage is a great way to modify your presentation. Try to drop questions in the chat or encourage your audience to introduce themselves in the chat. This can increase engagement! – Anna-Vija McClain, Piccolo Marketing

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March 29, 2021 at 05:18AM

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Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman