I was recently speaking at a company’s annnual conference, which they were running online again this year because of COVID-19 uncertainty. The speaker before me was the CEO, who made a brief but highly engaging presentation. The content was what you would expect – summary of last year, top-level ideas about the coming year, and so on – but I was particularly impressed with how well she kept the audience engaged.
When I was chatting to her later, I mentioned this and she said:
‘Oh, yes, I need to work twice as hard to keep people engaged in an online meeting!’
Ain’t that the truth!
She’s exactly right. And it’s not because of Zoom fatigue, pandemic uncertainty, or people in crisis mode.
It’s because the online presentation environment is fundamentally different – and most people don’t get it!
In a physical meeting room, the environment works in your favour. For instance, when I’m presenting at a large conference, it might look something like this:
Look at how the environment is designed to help me:
- I’m there live, in person, and can walk around the stage.
- My PowerPoint slides are on a big screen behind me, and they are visual aids to my message (I am the main visual).
- The room is laid out to focus on the front of the room, with a big stage, no distracting windows, people facing the front, and so on.
- People have set aside the time to attend, and are (mostly!) paying attention to me.
Even if you don’t usually present in such large settings, the same things apply in smaller meetings:
In an online meeting, it’s exactly the opposite.
Contrast that with the typical audience member in an online meeting:
- If they are working from home, they can be distracted by pets and kids (and in an office: adults acting like kids!).
- There are other distractions, like open windows and doors, social media on their phone, and the fridge a short walk away.
- They can be distracted by other work, such as email in another browser window, papers on their desk, or colleagues walking by.
- It’s easy to do other things secretly, and they might have even planned to do other things during the meeting!
If you’re delivering a presentation at the time, it might be the most important thing in your life. But for them, you are just in a tiny flat rectangle on a laptop screen in the middle of everything else in their life.
That’s the biggest challenge you face with online presentations, which is why it’s even more important to lift your game.
How can you get and keep their attention?
This is my day job, so I – like many other professional speakers and trainers – have invested thousands of hours into the skill of online presentations. So I have many tools to lift engagement and energy.
But if you don’t have that luxury, here’s the #1 thing you can do to lift the quality of your online presentations: Build a better slide deck.
Yep, get better at PowerPoint, and you’ll dramatically improve the impact of your online presentations.
Why? Because your PowerPoint slide deck has to do much more heavy lifting when you’re presenting online.
I’ll explain …
Most presenters rely on two things: webcam video and slides (using Share Screen):
That’s good! But you need to do both well, and many people just don’t have the time to build a good slide deck. So they slap together something basic quickly, and rely mostly on speaking through their webcam.
But the trouble with that is it’s too easy for the audience to get distracted. There’s nothing really changing on their screen, so it’s too easy to turn to other work and just listen to you in the background. They think they are good at multitasking, but they’re not!
You could do it the other way, obsessing about getting your slide deck perfect and not worrying too much about how you come across on the day. That doesn’t work either, because your audience feels disconnected – especially if you turn off your webcam because you’re too busy reading your speaker notes!
To get it right, you must use both well – and only then is your audience engaged.
Yes, this is easier said than done!
It does take time and effort to build a better slide deck, but it might be less time and effort than you think.
I’m running an online presentation soon about this, so register below and I’ll show you some simple and practical steps you can take right now!
Stunning Slides for Online Presentations
In this online presentation, I’ll show you simple tricks to make your online presentation more professional and engaging through creative and effective slides.
You will learn how to:
- Design and optimise slides for online presentations
- Build attractive slides quickly and easily
- Find free and low-cost graphics you can use legally
- Show data (numbers, statistics, etc.) in a meaningful way
When: Thursday 31st March, 8-8.50am WST, 11-11.50am AEDT
This presentation will be recorded, and the recording will be sent to everybody who registers.