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Why the number seven matter in a virtual presentation?

The working memory is a cognitive system that can temporarily hold information and is important for reasoning, the guidance of decision-making, and behaviour, but it has a limited compacity. According to Miller’s Law, the number of objects the average person can hold in their working memory is 7 (plus or minus 2).

Tip #1: Storytelling

A virtual presentation is more difficult, but some basic rules apply. And storytelling is an absolute winner to grab attention.

Now, let’s take a look at these 10 words: donkey, trip, rose, coin, road, shoe, bottle, pocket, wish, cotton candy. It would probably take you some time to try and remember these words and you’ll probably forget them after a few seconds because there is no connection.

10 random words

Now try taking those 10 random words, and use them to make a story:

“The donkey went on a trip with his friend Rose. On the way they found a coin in the middle of the road. It had a picture of a shoe on one side, and of a bottle on the other. Rose put it in her pocket for good luck and told the donkey to make a wish. He wished for cotton candy.”

The narrative of the story lets us hear and visualize what you’re saying and helps us remember the random words, the story gave them meaning. And the same goes for introducing yourself. Tell a personal, funny, or entertaining story so that you will be remembered. Maybe this will be your 7+2.

For example: “When I was young, I used to love Playmobil. Playing with friends, making up life stories, and the endless possibilities of what those little figurines could achieve and become. Today I use this same creativity to dream up possibilities for my clients and help them see what they can achieve and become.”

By telling them this personal story, you made yourself stand out as “the guy that loves Playmobil”. You used the story to pull them in and tell them about your skills, and how those skills can favour them.

Tip #2: Tripod

Keeping the attention of your prospects and clients in a virtual presentation can be hard enough as it is, but with everything moving to a virtual platform, this had become even harder. How can you keep someone’s interest and attention when you’re not even in the same room?!

To make things worse, this new reality of ours had us sitting behind a desk for the majority of the time, which can have negative effects on our energy levels, imagination, and creativity (and let’s not even get started about the physical problems it can cause!).

Combine the two, and it becomes just one big disaster.

So, what can you do to increase your energy level in a virtual meeting, which in turn will keep your prospects attentive and interested?

Use the right equipment.

Try using a tripod on which to place your laptop so instead of sitting down during your meeting, you will be able to stand and move around. Your body language will change and become more active, which in turn will change your prospect’s attitude as well.

Tip #3: Multiple screens

So, you are in a meeting pitching your idea, and as you’re doing your thing, you want to see how the other person responds to your idea. However, working virtually can make this difficult since it usually requires you to choose to either look at your presentation or the other person.

The solution? Use 2 screens.

The actual screen set-up is personal preference and totally up to you, but you want it to be practical. So, put them either next to each other or one behind the other, with the back one elevated.

Most important is that you will have a system in place:

Screen #1: You are the DJ

Screen # 2: The audience is enjoying  your virtual presentation.

Tip #4: camera use

The thing we as presenters often tend to forget, is that when presenting, we turn into this tiny square in the corner of the screen. There is no eye contact, and we lose any personal connection.

To avoid this, there is a couple of things you can do. First, toggle between you and your presentation, don’t let your presentation screen be the default. When you’re done presenting a slide and you want to make a point or give your audience the opportunity to ask questions, stop sharing your presentation for a moment. Your audience will be less distracted and will be able to see you better, and vice versa. Secondly, when possible, look into the camera. This will create the illusion of direct eye contact and increase that personal connection.

When it comes to your camera, you’ll want to make sure that you’re using the right angles and distances as well. Think about a time where someone’s face was all up in the camera or they were too far away from it, or their face was cut off at the top or bottom, how unpleasant is that to look at?

Using the right angle is one of the cardinal rules in camerawork. You want to place the camera on eye level or higher, and make sure your computer is a little bit elevated. This way you’ll avoid people looking up directly into your nostrils (and it’s a nice way to disguise a double chin ;)).

However, if you want to create the illusion that you’re taller or bigger, you might want to place the camera slightly below eye-level. This would be recommended if you’re presenting while standing and you’re not as close to the camera as while sitting.

Another thing is that by being too close to, or far away from the camera, you’ll lose the benefits of body language. A lot of what we say, feel, or think can be shown through our body language, think hand gestures, facial expressions and posture (any non-verbal virtual presentation tips). So, by using body language the right way, you can really strengthen your verbal message.

Tip #5: Software

We are all familiar with PowerPoint, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other popular presentation software. Familiarity provides comfort but does not necessarily mean they’re the best. So, let me introduce you to some of our favorites.

Old way
Make your presentation stand out with the use of Powerpoint.

New way
Make yourself stand out with Pitch

We need easier and more collaborative platforms to make virtual selling work.

Pitch.com

Pitch combines the best parts of productivity, design, and presentation software to help fast-moving teams beautifully designed decks in minutes.

It allows for interactive presentations, and you can see your audience within the presentation platform. So, no more going back and forth between two apps.

Some of its features:

  • Build stunning decks in record time.
  • Makes stay on brand a breeze.
  • Gives your team a central place to discuss ideas, give feedback, and make decisions.
  • Dozens of free templates.

Mmhmm

Mmhmm makes video calls less boring. Make your presentations stand out with custom effects, backgrounds, and animations.

How it works:

  1. Choose a background.
  2. Add your slides.

It’s that simple.

Mmhmm is compatible with Zoom, Cisco WebEx Meetings, YouTube, Twitch, Google Meet, and just about every other video meeting or streaming software.

Vidyard

Vidyard helps you create engaging presentations for clients, onboard new customers, keep your teammates in the loop, and more—all with video.

The way it works:

  • You can upload an existing video or create one in the app itself (there is no limit to how many videos you can make).
  • Share your video by embedding it on your website, sharing it on social media or in an e-mail.
  • Track your video. Get notified when it has been watched, by who and for how long.

You can send these videos in advance to an event or presentation, for a quick introduction or to just say hello, to build relationships by sending a “Happy Birthday/Holidays” video, and much more.


Tip #6: Lighting

Imagine watching a video or presentation that is filmed in a poorly lit room with little or no natural light, the image is gloomy, and there are lots of shadows. How does watching this make you feel?

Lighting sets the mood and tone, and you want to make sure that you have the right setting to convey your message. So, you can go all out and buy a lighting kit. The benefit of this, is that you are always in charge of the lighting no matter where you are.

Another option is shooting your video while facing a window. Natural light is a great tool and is more than enough to get the job done. The only downfall is that you are time and weather dependent.

If you don’t have a lot of natural light or any fancy equipment, there are a few tricks you can use to make a difference in your videos. When positioning yourself, never stand directly under a light or have light come from below. This will cast shadows on your face which could cause a “spooky” effect. The light should come from slightly above or from the side. Also, try to use soft lights as opposed to hard lights. Softer light is more flattering and will avoid hard shadows. You can create soft light with larger light sources (Biteable). https://biteable.com/blog/best-video-lighting-kits/

Tip #7: Audio

One of the most important factors when presenting is the audio. Bad lighting or angles can be forgiven, but bad audio will lose you some points.

Try to see the experience through your audience’s eyes. If your voice keeps breaking up, the volume keeps jumping up and down, or you’re just not audible enough, would you be able to focus and really listen? Probably not.

To make sure your audio is on point, you need the right equipment and think about your input and output. Are you just using your computer’s built-in microphone and speakers? Or will you be using an external microphone or headphones?

Almost every computer or laptop comes with a built-in microphone, but they are fixed position integrated into the body of your computer and can pick up interference noises from your computer’s fan or vibrations. This can cause a lot of background noise, thin sound, and low volume (Brad Moon, 2018). So, to increase the quality of your output, using an external microphone will make all the difference.

The same goes for input. Using your computer’s built-in speakers are OK if you are an in empty and quit room and are presenting to a small group of people. But this usually isn’t the case. By using headphones, you will be able to tune out any background noise and sound will be more focused and clearer.

For some great audio (and lighting) equipment take a look at Elgato: https://www.elgato.com/en

Tip #7 + 1: Virtual presentation background

There is nothing more boring than watching a person sit in front of a plain, white background. It’s hard to stay focused on them. But unfortunately, not all of us have the luxury of sitting in a corner office on the 25th floor looking over Manhattan. So, we have to be creative.

Most presentation software today gives you the option to change your background (E.g., Mmhmm). You can choose anything from their database or even upload something yourself. Of course, you don’t want to go too crazy, the point of the background is to help keep the focus on you, not on what is going on behind you.

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7 +1 tips for a better virtual presentation