They belong to the era of the coronavirus like masks and test sticks: online events. Countless presentations have been held remotely and followed on screen over the course of the last almost one and a half years. But Covid-19 has merely accelerated an already existing development; online events will also accompany us in the future. This makes it all the more important to appear professional during a virtual lecture or workshop. In this article we explain what you should bear in mind.
In addition to purely online events, hybrid events are also very popular. In this article we focus on presenting in purely virtual events. This means situations in which you, as a presenter, are not recorded in a studio or on location, but connect via your own workstation to present something.
We give you tips on how to optimise your online presentation in webinars and put yourself in the best light.
Using a suitable platform is important. But even you as a presenter can help to take your online events to the next level with a few simple steps. Alors... Let's Go!
When you present via your workstation, a lot depends on your infrastructure. In terms of good preparation, you only need to meet a few basic technical requirements. Any content, no matter how good, becomes less significant if it does not reach the audience because of poor sound quality or a shaky picture. In order to be able to perform in high-quality image and sound, you need two things above all: a fast internet connection via network cable and a headset.
Regardless of the platform and browser, you should always use a network cable. This is the only way to ensure that your image reaches your audience in high quality, i.e. especially unpixelated and smooth. You know the text of your presentation without getting bogged down? Very good: the network cable ensures that your image also arrives without shakiness.
Wifi connections (even over fibre) are too unstable to ensure high quality video uninterrupted.
With a headset, you massively improve the audio quality. You prevent reverb and avoid background noise. Ideally, the headset should have an integrated microphone, as this also contributes to better sound.
Modern online event software can be used directly via the browser. Downloading an application - such as with Zoom - is often no longer necessary. This simplifies access and nothing needs to be installed. Meanwhile, the choice of a modern browser is important.
Therefore, use Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge or Safari in their most current version.
You want to be sure that your technical infrastructure works? You want to get to know the presentation software? Then carry out a short test run. It is important that this test takes place under the same conditions as you plan the main event. Use the equipment provided for this purpose and log in from the same location from which you will also present. This is the only way to make a test run really meaningful. Otherwise you are testing something that will not be used.
Testing, including explaining the functionality, should never take longer than 10 minutes on a modern event software (for one speaker).
It is important that you, as the presenter, have mastered the technique or have a director at your side who can do these things for you. It would be a pity if your presentation was bumpy because you are struggling with the technology. It looks unfortunate if the technology controls you and your presentation.
A speaker recently told us in a test run on our event platform livingroom.events:
"That's great. I don't have to do anything and I can concentrate on the presentation.
That's how it should be: The technology works in the background, if possible without speakers and participants noticing it.
First things first: Do not use animated PowerPoint slides. In an online presentation this either does not work at all or it is jerky when transmitted to the participants.
If a conferencing/meeting solution (e.g. Zoom or Microsoft Teams) is used for the presentation, you must present your slides via screen sharing. Software designed for online events allows you to upload the slides to the platform in advance. From there, they are displayed to the audience and you can still control them yourself. This has the following advantages:
Also, you don't have to prepare your computer for everyone to see your personal screen during your presentation. You should do this if you are using screen-sharing software. Then close your messenger and mail programmes, deactivate all notifications and tidy up your desktop if you don't want to seem unprepared.
Another factor that significantly influences how the audience perceives you is how they see you. Therefore, make sure you have good lighting conditions at your workplace. Of course, make sure you have enough light from the front. It is equally important that there are no light sources behind you, such as windows or lamps, otherwise the lighting will be adjusted and you will appear dark to the participants.
Also make sure your camera is at about eye level. You should also position yourself in front of the screen so that you fill about two thirds of the screen. This way you will always be clearly visible, even if you are only shown in a small picture next to your slides for the participants. Make sure that part of your upper body is also visible. This also conveys non-verbal signals. You appear present - despite the distance.
The place where you give your presentation should of course also be suitable in terms of background noise. No presentation will be better if one constantly hears traffic noise in the background or the construction site in the neighbourhood.
Even during an online presentation, there are some differences to be noted compared to face-to-face events. This becomes apparent right at the beginning. If you would normally like to make small talk with the participants before the actual presentation to lighten the mood, you will have a harder time online. So be prepared for a "cold start". Most of the time you will start directly with your presentation. The interaction with the moderators and participants will then take place during the course of the event once everyone has "warmed up" and the first ice has been broken.
Furthermore, it is more difficult than usual to assess the mood of the audience during the lecture. Is everyone still fully engaged or have most of them already fallen asleep? What was clear before with a glance into the room and the faces of the participants can hardly be assessed online.
Furthermore, the distraction possibilities for viewers online are particularly diverse. Emails can be checked with just a few clicks and the next website is just as easy to access. Besides, no one sees it if you are on your mobile phone or run to the fridge.
Therefore, it is even more important than with on-site lectures to actively involve the audience and keep them happy. Of course, regularly asking questions and directly addressing the audience is a good way to do this. But you can also use short surveys and evaluations, provocative and controversial theses as well as asking for opinions and feedback to encourage the audience to actively participate in your presentation.
Furthermore, it is essential to plan enough breaks and also to announce them well in advance. Because with the opportunity to be an active part of the event and with a fresh mind, it is easier to stay involved. That way you won't lose your audience!
At livingroom.events you can offer participants virtual networking during the breaks. We also have a specially programmed and integrated solution for this.
The importance of your voice and speech is even greater in online presentations because your audience usually only sees you in a smaller window and may also be concentrating on your slides. At the same time, your facial expressions and gestures naturally lose some of their relevance. Nevertheless, you are well advised to gesticulate normally as if you were having a face-to-face conversation. Your body language influences your voice.
Giving a presentation online can quickly lead to not internalising the content as one normally would. After all, everything can be read off the cheat sheet comfortably and unobtrusively. Nevertheless, it is important that you deliver your paper as freely as possible! Because - you guessed it - your voice will quickly tell the participants whether you are telling freely or just reading off, whether you are confident in what you are saying or desperately clinging to your notes. And if you are confident, free and relaxed, people like to listen to you.
Unlike a face-to-face event, an online presentation puts more focus on the slides. The presenters are often not visible in full screen for a longer period of time. That is why the slides of your online presentation are of central importance. It is therefore all the more important that they are clear and informative and do not overwhelm the audience.
Therefore, you should never put too much text on it, but work mainly with visual elements such as icons, graphics, pictures or keywords.
If you manage to put together inviting slides that support your presentation in a meaningful way without overstraining the audience, you've already done a lot right!
At the end of your presentation, a clear call-to-action should not be missing: Tell everyone how to get more information, who to contact and, most importantly, offer them the opportunity to register directly for the next event!