During the last few months, I have made video calls more than I ever made in my entire life! With the COVID-19 pandemic in hindsight, I kind of assume that video calls are going to be in mainstream communication mode for an indefinite period of time. So, are you prepared for it?
If you are one of those people who dread dressing up for a video call (just because you are at home), then I have got some advice for you, my friend. This is the closest substitute to an in-person conversation, so make your best effort. I would feel quite awkward meeting someone inadvertently in their pajamas while discussing an important business deal. Period!
So, want to know how to present better over video calls? Here are my top tips for you:
Dress yourself and your environment:
Yes, it is important to spiff up your surroundings as much as you would dress yourself up. A pile of clothes or an unmade bed isn’t ideally a good background to conduct business. If you can’t do much about what is around you, then I suggest you sit with your back to a wall to avoid distractions. Most importantly, dress up professionally and look your best.
Adjust the camera and the lighting
Make sure that the room is well lit and there is a soft spotlight on your face, though you can rely on natural lighting if you can focus it on yourself. Always ensure that the camera is positioned at eye level and facing you head-on. If you are using a phone, then rest it on a stand and place it in the horizontal position.
Keep the audience engaged
There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re a bore. In order to avoid that, you need to keep your audience engaged. During your introduction, let the audience know that you are planning to stop during the presentation to ask questions, answer questions, and address concerns. In many in -person presentations, questions are saved for the end, but when addressing an audience over video, you have to be able to keep them on their toes. Try asking rhetorical questions, and addressing attendees directly.
For example, you can say something like ‘As most of you will be aware…’ or ‘Some of you might be wondering…’. For rhetorical questions try to get the audience thinking by saying something like ‘So how are we going to achieve this objective?’. This will encourage the audience to formulate answers to your question for discussion at a later point in the presentation.
Make the experience easy
Video calling through zoom or other platforms, is extremely convenient and useful but, it can also be tough for the presenter and audience. For this reason, it’s crucial to try to make the experience as fun and easy going as possible. This doesn’t mean you need to tell jokes throughout the entire presentation. Rather, allow the audience and yourself to share a few moments of lightness and humor. There’s really no secret trick to allow this to happen. Be sure to allow your personality to shine through. Remember that if you as the presenter seem like you’re enjoying presenting, your audience is much more likely to not only stay engaged, but to enjoy it as well.
Finally, I suggest that you should practice speaking to the camera and not the image of the audience on the screen. This appears more like you are making eye contact with them!