A Guide to Virtual Presentations - Calgary Event Planner

A Guide to Virtual Presentations

By now, the world of virtual conferences, digital events and webinars are familiar to us all. It’s become a necessary go-to strategy to keep our traditionally in person events and conferences alive throughout the pandemic. On the surface they seem simpler and more straightforward but as I’ve recently completed a Digital Events Strategist course and begun executing some of these events myself, I can tell you with certainty, this is not always the case. If you’re not familiar with Digital Event Strategist I wrote about recently and you can check it out here.

The execution of these events often holds a number of challenges that are easy to overlook but today I’m here to help you uncover them with a few digital specific steps that I’ve found invaluable as I dive deeper and deeper into the world of virtual events.

Did You Know:
When viewing sessions both virtually and on demand that audiences will often decide within one minute if they watch a session or not.

Preparation & Planning
Just like in the real world, thorough planning and preparation is an absolute must. Using professional a/v suppliers and planners can also make a world of difference, but there are many parts you can take on too.

Equipment
If you are presenting from home or office consider:

  • Using an external microphone to ensure your sound quality is the best. Sadly, there is no easy fix to poor sound quality in post production.
  • Add a ring light to help illuminate your face or If one isn’t available position yourself close to a light source like a window that is facing you, NOT behind you.
  • Whenever possible use hard wired Internet. Wifi can be spotty so if it’s your only option be sure that is also what you’re using during rehearsals so your event team can better anticipate any issues.

Rehearsals
Rehearsals should be mandatory. Practice in the place you plan to present so everyone involved can troubleshoot any possible technology or internet issues.

Don’t forget to consider audience engagement while you prepare

  • Look directly at the camera to create a connection with your viewer.
  • Position your camera at eye level so you’re not looking down at your audience and they’re not looking up your nose.

Additional platform engagement
While live presentations naturally feed off the energy in the room, a virtual presentation requires a little more effort to be engaging.

If your webinar platform allows, consider adding:

  • Polls
  • Surveys
  • Q & A sessions that your moderator can assist with

Presentation Best Practices
Remember to be conversational and create an interactive environment.

  • Consider skipping housekeeping and long introductions and save these for before your Q & A.
  • Break session content up into three to five minute segments where you alternate between information, stories and examples.
  • Before starting decide how your presentation is going to end and take your audience on a logical journey to get there?
  • Identify the three things will the audience walk away with and how those three things will help them going forward?
  • Provide information that is immediately useful to your audience.
  • Save something compelling for your Q&A session. This way you have an icebreaker if there is a lapse in questions.

Visually Engaging Content
Additional thought should be given to any follow up content and links you plan to share, as well as any images or videos that can help to engage the audience.

Slides should be simple and visual (including images, charts and graphs).

Each slide should present a single idea, example, process etc.

Slides should change every 30-60 seconds as much as possible to keep your viewers attention. Staring at the same screen for longer than that increases the chance your audience will begin to tune out.

Avoid text on slides you are planning to read from your notes

*A good way to avoid this is to print your notes off so you are not reading off the screen and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. So you are glancing at your material but not reading it.

BACK UP PLANS
As with live events, we should always have a contingency plan. With technology, Internet and power, in particular, are deal breakers so we HIGHLY recommend you consider:

  • As we mentioned earlier dry run in the exact place that you are going to present, so if any connectivity issues present themselves you can problem solve in advance.
  • Pre-record sessions that can be cut to in case of a technology breakdown
  • Ensure everyone involved has a copy of the presentation and a phone number your presenter can call should the Internet go down.

Virtual events have truly taken off and – pandemic or no pandemic – they’re not going away any time soon. If you’re looking for more advice on how to tackle your own online event, reach out! We’d love to help!

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