Imagine you’re a presenter walking into an important presentation. You’d never dream of going in unprepared, unkempt or dressed in your pyjamas. And it’s probably your worst nightmare that you’d dry up or start rambling and staring at the floor as you delivered your presentation. With a video-conference you need to prepare just as thoroughly as for a standard presentation but to get ahead you’ll need to have these top skills at hand.
On a small screen you obviously don’t have a physical presence, so you need to prepare for a video conference in a different way. Here are our pointers on how you can deliver a great video conferencing presentation, or be noticed for all the right reasons in an important online meeting.
Preparation, preparation, preparation
- How you look and behave on the conference is key. Dressing in dark, solid colours or neutral shades will look better on screen when it comes to your video-conferencing presentation.
- Avoid horizontal stripes, patterns and reflective clothing as they tend to strobe on screen. It’s also best to avoid very bright colours and bright make up. In addition, although a video conference might take place from home and at night, you still need to look professional. So, dress to impress, don’t just wear your favourite comfy old sweatshirt.
- Preparation is vital. Know what it is that you want to say, it might help kill your nerves to script everything. It’ll help you stay on message, rather than babble on or forget those key points you want to make.
- Practice makes perfect, so it’s well worth going through your presentation in advance. If you can, video yourself presenting and that way you’ll see what other people are going to see and hear. It’ll also give you a good opportunity to hone your style.
Calm and in control
Learn how to operate the video-conferencing technology and familiarise yourself with it. Know where the controls are in case you need to make adjustments during the presentation.
When it comes to using large video-conferencing systems, it’s essential that you do a test call before the meeting to ensure that lighting, chair height and position and microphone placement are all optimal for you.
Lights, camera, ACTION…
- When it comes to the video conference itself, whether it’s a presentation or a meeting, speak clearly and slowly and repeat questions where necessary. Use humour to engage other people, if it’s appropriate. Aim to be relaxed and breathe normally.
- Maintain eye contact with the camera, and by extension the people you are meeting with. Remember that you are on camera, so keep fairly still and gesture normally. Avoid doing other things, such as typing into the computer, turning away or walking around.
- People will be looking at your face, so make sure that your facial expression is appropriate. Then other people will see that you are engaged and interested in the presentation and that you are aware of their presence in the meeting. Remember to smile.
- As part of the presentation, you may be required to moderate multiple conversations. To be effective set clear ground rules, and encourage participation from everyone. Speak clearly and carefully, enunciate your words and to avoid sounding like a droid, use inflection to vary your tone. Remember short words and simple sentences work best as there may be a brief time delay in the audio transmission.
- With this in mind, let other people finish what they are saying without interrupting them, and don’t let people cut across each other’s comments.
- Timing for a video-conferencing meeting is particularly important. Do your best to start and end the call on time. This means getting all participants assembled beforehand. By doing this there’s less chance of people arriving during the event, which is disruptive.
Improving your skills
There are several techniques to use that could enhance and improve your conference skills.
- You can combat stage fright nerves by practising with the equipment until you are comfortable; being prepared by knowing your materials; having a glass of water at hand; and being relaxed before the presentation.
- Drinking a glass of hot water and lemon can help relax your throat, and some experts advise staying away from soft drinks, chocolate and dairy products prior to a presentation, because these can coat your throat and cause difficulty in speaking and swallowing.
- When it comes to using complementary multimedia and technology, it’s a good idea to keep any videos in the conference brief, and to allow time for pictures to download.
- Be prepared to use additional video-conferencing features and functions such as instant messaging, shared whiteboards and applications and online polls. These all help other people to engage in the presentation, encourage participation, and will make you and your presentation more interesting and memorable.
- Other factors to help you with your presentation or meeting include knowing the number of people and locations participating in the meeting. You could suss out the regional or city news and weather of anyone taking part, it could be a helpful icebreaker.
Here’s a final couple of tips to help you get the best from your presentation; create an agenda, and email the salient talking points to participants before the meeting.