Finding it hard to adjust your presentations to a remote setting? Delivering remote presentations isn’t entirely that different from regular ones. The main challenge remains keeping your audience engaged so they’re not tempted to look at their phone or browse the web instead.
That’s exactly what we’re going to focus on through the following 10 tried-and-tested tips for delivering effective remote presentations. Feel free to use these techniques for presenting remotely for your team meetings, online events, and webinars alike.
Always plan and practice ahead of time
While not everyone is naturally born as an amazing speaker, we can all practice to deliver a mindblowing presentation that will be memorable not only for the information you share but also for your exposition skills.
The first step is ensuring you’ve got the right remote presentation tools to work with. This includes your lights and any headset, microphone, and speaker you might need to improve the quality of the stream. Look through all of the Amazon reviews, starting from the negative ones, to see how your options already perform for similar purposes. You can then use the Krisp app with any of the audio solutions to clear up the sound so no noise passes through.
To prevent unanticipated hardware or software crashes during the remote presentation, run a tech check a couple of hours beforehand. Malte Scholz, CEO and Co-Founder at Airfocus, turns to having a tech expert help with this task:
“I find it very challenging to hold a presentation and worry about slides and other tech things. Sometimes I need to look at some notes on my computer which is impossible if I’m the one sharing the screen. For these reasons, I always have a tech person who shares the presentation and makes sure nobody is experiencing any issues. This person should be able to take care of things and make decisions independently, without interrupting you in when presenting remotely.”
Once you know there’s nothing that could go wrong from a tech side, you’ll be less stressed and can now focus better on your own presentation delivery. Practice the entire presentation from start to finish at least once and write down any points you might forget to mention:
“I get nervous while I present something online, especially since I cannot feel the energy in the room and make real connections. Because I know how easy it is to distract me, I try to do everything I can to avoid this scenario. This means practicing my full presentation at least once before the actual event.
I don’t just go over my notes but give a full speech to my laptop. While I speak without the audience, I can focus on myself and improve bits and pieces of my presentation. This helps me relax during the actual event.” – Mikkel Andreassen, Customer Experience Manager at Dixa
If you think there’s a high chance of something going wrong like your camera stopping all of a sudden or audio lagging, put together backup plans. Have an extra camera or mic at hand, ensure your phone’s Internet data allowances can cover in case your Wi-Fi connection drops, or even keep a secondary laptop at hand.
Have someone else help you with the presentation
Depending on the scale of the remote presentation, you’ll need someone to help you with a tech, design, or administrative task. From checking if everything is ok before the start of an event to monitoring everything during the actual presentation.
In particular, if you’re taking questions from an audience with over 100 active members, you’ll need a moderator. This person can select the questions, send resources to people whose inquiries can be answered through an existing post of yours, and even remove spam from the chat.
To maintain full control of the discussion, have this person establish the ground rules and etiquette even before people sign up for the event. They can receive a brief list of conditions to attend the presentation and only receive an invite once they accept the terms.
And the moderator’s duty doesn’t stop here. They’ll be responsible for all the follow-ups, sending a recording to everyone who missed the presentation, or putting together a blog post summary of the event.
Get your camera set up correctly
Don’t hold a presentation from a coffee shop. Choose an environment that keeps any distractions away and allows you to easily fix tech issues by quickly switching your device.
Background props are fine as long as they don’t take all the attention. For instance, an educational remote presentation could use a couple of accessories and fun aids. You can also use the background strategically to fit in an unobtrusive call-to-action or product ad.
The way you place your camera though plays a huge part in helping you recreate the visual face-to-face interaction of a traditional presentation setting. Here’s everything to keep in check when setting up your camera for a remote presentation:
- Use natural light as often as possible and place light in front of you rather than on the side or behind you.
- Match the camera with your eye-level so the recording looks like you’re looking directly at the audience. Have the camera set up on top of your laptop or place a couple of books underneath the laptop in case your desk is too low. Keep the laptop at a 90 degrees angle at all times to ensure the recording stays the same.
- Look into the camera when presenting remotely, not at yourself. This lets you make virtual eye contact with the audience.
“As a facilitator that gives formal remote presentations, I have two camera options at my workstation. The first is the normal webcam I use when seated. It’s placed at eye-level and allows me to be on video while I access my computer and entire desk. The second camera is placed higher and further back on a tripod. I can switch to this second one at any moment and it allows me to give standing presentations too.
The audience views me from the waist and above and it increased my “stage” as I can walk around. If I have virtual background images, it allows me to point and “touch” more images as my background is larger on screen. I can still access my desk and laptop when needed, and I might use a slide remote to change backgrounds or other virtual content as I present standing up.” – Robert Kienzle, Senior Consultant at Knowmium.
Invest in good visuals for your remote presentations
Long gone are the days when plain text on a white background was enough to support your claims. Today, every single slide you create matters. Use visuals as proof of your statements and to build trust in your expertise from the first seconds of presenting remotely.
Here are all of the best practices to keep in mind when creating your slides:
- Opt for a good design that matches your brand. It’s now time to consider delegating this task to the designer in your team or outsourcing this duty to impress your audience.
For stunning virtual presentation layouts and templates, turn to Dribbble and Behance where you’ll also be able to find top designers to help you with this:
- Diversify the layout of your slides. Having one slide only with 3 sentences on it is fine as long as the next one is image-centric. Opt for a slightly different layout for each slide based on its purpose: quotes, facts, statements, images, videos, lists, contact information, etc. Imagine you’re creating the layout for a magazine. Would its pages be repetitive?
- Use a template as a last-minute option or for small team presentations. Large-scale events where your presentation can help you score a partnership or client will always be better off with an original design.
- Spend no more than 20 seconds on a slide. To do this, you first need to distribute your facts evenly. Having less than 15-20 words on a slide will ensure you don’t have that much to say so you’ll naturally move on to the following section.
- Having a top-notch design doesn’t mean you’re not supposed to show your face as you’re presenting remotely. The majority of people consider face-to-face interactions vital for any business partnerships be it within meetings or networking events. With virtual presentations, in-person communication will never be possible but you can still put a face to your name and voice as well as maintain eye contact through the camera.
Sara McGuire, Content Marketing Manager at Venngage, completes this list with her own one-of-a-kind tips:
“Because you’re losing the element of an in-person presence, you need to compensate for that by making your slides interesting to look at and more effective at communicating your message. Some best practices for designing an engaging remote presentation are:
- Make the first 30 seconds of your presentation count.
- Compare and contrast your solution with the status quo.
- Use visual aids to summarize and clarify your big ideas.
- Get your audience involved to build trust and rapport using polls or a chat.
- Use a clean, consistent presentation layout and design.
- Eliminate extraneous detail to focus on core concepts.”
Improve your speech and sound when presenting remotely
What people hear is more important than ever when presenting remotely. Keep in mind that a presentation doesn’t flow like a meeting, so people can’t just drop any to ask you to repeat something.
Practice your speech beforehand and record it so you can identify any things that might not be heard correctly. For larger events, remote or not, a transcriptionist is a must. Having everything you say written down takes away the audience’s burden to strongly focus on what you’re saying. Plus, it removes any misunderstandings that could lie behind an accent or you not speaking loudly enough.
Another thing that could literally annoy your audience is constant background noise. Traffic, dogs barking, and people chattering are just three of the most common disruptors that will get listeners to think about where that sound comes from instead of what you’re saying. A solution like Krisp automatically removes the background noises from your live or recorded virtual presentations. It works with any tool you’re using from Zoom and Google Hangouts to Slack and over 800 more apps.
For extra clarity, learn to slow down. You don’t have to finish everything in 5 minutes. The coherence of your remote presentation has priority. So take sentences one at a time, with breaks in between to give people a couple of seconds to fully comprehend what you’re saying.
Maintaining the presentation interactive and engaging listeners
To differentiate your remote presentations from the other companies have created, find your own ways of keeping your audience engaged. As many as 70% of marketers believe interactive content is what keeps audiences engaged while 64% of people see a two-way interaction more effective at engaging people compared to a linear one.
You’ve got infinite options here, including:
- Ask people to share their feedback after a section of your presentation.
- Get people to prepare questions before the start of the remote presentation.
- Have your audience share fun or informative bits of the presentation in real-time via Twitter through a common hashtag.
- Set up a chat where people can share their ideas and ask a question.
- Add in useful activities to gather insights, act as a survey, or just test if your listeners were paying attention.
“You’ve probably been on a Zoom call where everyone went on mute right away. The problem is that the presenter then gets no feedback via casual remarks, laughs, or similar. This challenge is even worse when you go into the full-presentation mode and can’t see the others on screen.
Instead, encourage attendees to keep their microphones on, and even more so encourage them to use it! Ask icebreaker questions, call on people, and otherwise find ways for folks to participate. That is the best way to prevent people from surfing off to other corners of the Internet during your presentation.” – Michael Alexis, CEO at TeamBuilding.
Steer clear from annoying habits and mistakes
The worst thing you can do to have your listeners close the presentation [yes, that’s easier to do compared to leaving the room for in-person presentations] is to keep your presentation repetitive or unintelligible.
Common mistakes during remote presentations include simply reading from the slides, speeding up your speech, speaking slowly, or moving back and forth between slides because you forgot to say one thing at the previous one. All of these small habits confuse participants and give you a bad virtual rating.
Other frequent errors that can compromise the remote presentations’ success include forgetting to introduce yourself or not explaining complex topics some of your listeners might not be familiar with. Not everyone will be aware of who you are and the main reason people are probably signing up for the presentation is to learn something new from scratch. Clearly give a definition of any new terms or concepts you’re using and highlight the exact element or images you’re talking about using the on-screen drawing pen tool or shapes and arrows.
Ensure you’ll have enough time to take on extra questions or fit in unexpected tech and connectivity problems
Have you ever held a presentation and realized you forgot to mention one important thing only after it was done?
When announcing the presentation’s length or an event’s schedule, add at least 15 extra minutes to the time you first estimated. This helps you avoid rushing the presentation and allows you to take on enough questions at the end. Plus, if you think you forgot anything, you can fit it within the context during the Q&A session.
From a technical standpoint, Tom Winter, Co-Founder at DevSkiller, also shared his own takeaways:
“Always account for the unexpected and give yourself extra time for effective remote presentations. There are bound to be people that get disconnected during the meeting or are interrupted by their family or pets. Calculate at least 15 more minutes. You will always need time to answer extra questions or wait for one of the attendees to find a stable Wi-Fi connection.
With everyone working from home these days, you need to make sure that you have enough bandwidth to run your meeting. So if your kids are playing Call of Duty online or streaming HD movies on Netflix, ask them nicely to find an offline activity until you are done.
If this doesn’t work, either manually configure your home router to limit the connection from their connected devices IP address or better yet, get a dedicated router just for your home office, ideally hardwired with a LAN cable to your computer. This will help you avoid many headaches while hosting remote meetings as you will have a steady Internet connection that won’t easily get disrupted.”
Find unique ways of adapting your presentation to every single audience
The top and flow of your remote presentation should be motivating to the participant. To ensure people will want to interact with you, you can’t keep the same format for all audience types. Some aspects to take into consideration here are pre-existing knowledge of the topic, expectations, presentation setting, demographics, audience size, and more.
Next are two distinct cases with their own particular approaches:
- For small groups of fewer than 10 people, you can take the time to ask every single person one or two questions. In other words, when the time allows for it, initiate the engagement yourself. You can also gather their feedback via the chat so you can adapt the presentation as you go, keeping it in tone with their topics of interest.
- What about people who want to see your presentation but can’t attend? Make recording your remote presentations a habit. Let them know from the moment they sign up for the event that you’ll send the recording to everyone on the list. This takes away the pressure to make it on time and allows them to easily review the presentation at any time after. To improve your own remote presentation skills, review these yourself from time to time and reflect on the things you can improve.
“Keep your presentation human centered and find ways to prepare for every single audience ahead of time. Ask attendees what they want to get out of this session either through a message a couple of days before the meeting or at the start of the meeting. Spot misaligned expectations (if any) and address them right away. A good idea would be to ask for quick feedback when they sign up for the event so you’ll know what to focus on in your presentation.” – Julia Paskaleva, Founder at We Mavericks.
Don’t leave people hanging!
For effective remote presentations, give attendees a call-to-action (CTA) or link to a free resource they can check out to learn more. “Don’t forget to download our guide!”, “We’ve prepared a special ebook for all participants.”, or “Join our free community and take part in the discussion there.” are all good CTA ideas to use. So whether you created the presentation to sell, expand your network, or just increase brand awareness, use that core goal within your CTA too.
Tell them what they’re supposed to do next and how they can use the information you just shared. If you want them to take part in a project you run, instruct them on the general outline and send them a detailed guide to what their role would be.
“My number one tip would be to not leave people hanging! It’s likely your presentation included a ton of useful information, but all of it can go to waste if you don’t give them an action item. Running an internal presentation? Ask the team to get back to you with one piece of feedback about whatever it is you presented. Is it a webinar or similar external presentation? Call upon the participants to sign up to your blog, connect with you on LinkedIn or whatever it is that fits with your current goals.” – Katheriin Liibert, Head of Marketing at Outfunnel
Don’t forget to leave them your email address or social media account so they can contact you for future questions or opportunities. To keep things more personal, make time for brief meetings with people who are interested in learning more. You can also send a follow-up together with the recording of the presentation to remind them of a resource they didn’t download or a survey they haven’t yet completed.
Where to start preparing your next remote presentation
These might seem like a lot of remote presentation tips you apply at once, but taking them one by one will ensure that you’ve got all points covered in a timely manner.
The #1 best practice to keep in mind though is making sure you would enjoy your presentation if someone else showed it to you. Practice the presentation ahead of time and record it so you can analyze it and see if there’s anything that needs to be changed or if you can fit in some fun activities to keep your audience engaged.
To truly exceed everyone’s expectations, stay away from the “this will do” mentality. Invest in good design and tech equipment that will turn your boring remote presentations into professional ones. This is the first aspect that will capture people’s attention and get them eager to hear what you have to say.