Thirteen Ways To Level Up Your Zoom Presentations

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Thirteen Ways To Level Up Your Zoom Presentations

Written by: Krista Neher, Forbes Councils Member

Krista Neher is the CEO of Boot Camp Digital, a 6X best-selling author, international speaker & recognized digital marketing thought-leader.


With the pandemic, people are spending more time in virtual environments, and the bar is being raised to create powerful virtual presentation experiences. As a professional speaker, I’ve delivered webinars for more than 15 years, and I’ve delivered more than 100 virtual presentations in the past year. I’ve received feedback from more than 1,000 people and increased my ratings to 4.9 out of 5.

Here are the tips and tricks that I’ve picked up that can help you take your virtual presentations to the next level:

1. Let music set the tone.

It is challenging to set a tone in a virtual environment. Music is a powerful way to set the tone (and have some fun). Look for ways to incorporate upbeat music before, during and after your presentation. I play music as people join the presentation. If I’m delivering a workshop, I’ll play a song during the break or an activity. I also play music after we wrap up.

2. Bring the energy.

People are on their computers all day and increasingly in virtual meetings. If you want to really capture their attention, you need to keep your energy high. It can be challenging to get enthusiastic in a room by yourself, so I dance (off-camera) to my favorite song to get pumped. 

3. Encourage participation.

My company delivers a full four-day workshop virtually, and people are engaged the entire time. How? We constantly engage them. Our trainers aim to ask for participation every 10 minutes. This keeps attendees actively involved. The best way to engage people is through the chat by asking natural questions as you go. For example: “We’re about to dive into personal branding. Have you thought about your personal brand before? Type ‘yes’ or ‘no’ into the chat.” These natural questions keep the flow interactive and draw out participation. 

4. Stand up.

I recently switched to a standing desk for my presentations, and it has been a game-changer. A standing desk means that I can use more body language and position myself closer to or farther away from the camera to keep things interesting. This gives more range of body language and allows you to create more visual interest.

5. Communicate with your hands.

You can also use your hands to create more visual interest. When I give a list like “Five Ways To Grow Your SEO,” I show five fingers, and I move my hands closer to the camera. The camera is your stage, so work your stage by using your hands to bring home key points.

6. Use a conversational tone.

This is hard when you are speaking to an empty room and into a camera. It can be easy to go on autopilot and just start talking. Try to inject personality and keep the tone more conversational to give your presentation a more natural feel.

7. Change up your speed.

Without a physical audience, it can be tempting to just start plowing through your presentation. Break it up to keep people interested. The best way to do this is with your vocal speed. Think of your presentation like a roller coaster. Sometimes you speed up to grow energy and anticipation. Sometimes you slow down to let something sink in. Variety keeps the audience hooked.

8. Practice “predictive reactiveness.”

This is a term that my team made up. Let’s say I make a joke: “I’m so old-school I was active on Myspace.” I know (or assume) that the audience is laughing (at least a little on the inside). So, I laugh back, as though they were laughing with me. Or I may say, “I bet a lot of you have made this mistake before.” Then, I knowingly smile, as though I’ve seen them all cringe. Predictive reactiveness means that you react naturally based on how you predict they are responding to you. 

9. Look at the camera.

Don’t look at your slides or yourself on video. Look at the camera. This is the equivalent of making eye contact with the audience. If you struggle with this, put a sticky note with a smiley face below your camera as a reminder that this is where your audience is.

10. Incorporate your branding in subtle ways.

Virtual backgrounds can be fun, but they are usually a little distracting. Find ways to incorporate your brand (or the brand of your client) naturally. I have a branded backdrop that I use, but I also use coffee mugs with my logo or the client’s. When I show my pen and paper for taking notes, they are both branded. 

11. Use a clicker.

This may seem like an unusual piece of advice, but even if you are sitting, you are constantly looking down to choose the right button to press to advance your slides. Use a clicker so that you can move through your slides smoothly. 

12. Employ props.

This might sound intense, but find ways to utilize some props — not comically (unless that is your style). For example, I have a pen and paper that I show when I talk about taking notes. I tell a story about watering a plant, and I hold a fake plant. Virtual presentations can get monotonous, so finding ways to inject visual interest keeps people engaged.

13. Start and end on full-screen mode.

You are the star of the presentation — not your slides. Most presentation software shows the slides in a big window and the speaker in a small window. Start and end with the focus on you. Don’t share your slides until after your introduction, and stop slide sharing as you wrap up. This brings the focus back to you.

The growth in virtual meetings and presentations means that you need to up your game to break through the noise and earn attention. These tips will help you create a solid atmosphere and energy through the screen to keep your audience engaged.

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March 30, 2021 at 06:12AM

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Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman