4 strategies to improve virtual body language  

Having better virtual body language will improve how you connect and engage with your audience online.

You may have noticed that presenting face to face feels different to presenting virtually.

Take reading the body language in a room for example. Today’s wall of muted participants can leave you feeling funny, or unfunny should you have attempted a joke. And if they aren’t on mute (how dare they!) then all sorts of background noises can create interference, distracting your audience and potentially interrupting your flow.

Indeed, now that an audience is no longer held captive by the auditorium or meeting room, viewers can multitask whilst still appearing to be listening. Or they might hide their video feed to obscure possible inattention or children. Or we get distracted by said children or pets (hurrah!). Oh, and they just left! Did the wifi drop or did they just pretend it did? Like that old “oh, I’m losing signal” escape when on your mobile phone… (cue amusing verbal sound effects).

This change in the presenting dynamic has drawn attention to the fact that it’s less easy to see engagement, so our natural reaction (rightly) is to work on engagement.

I’ve read ‘new’ advice for presenters suggesting that more slides and more variety will hold attention better when presenting virtually. Well, I have a newsflash: this has always been the case for all presentations! Looking at one slide for more than a few minutes gets boring quickly. Even in an auditorium. Presenters often believe they are doing a mighty fine job spending 10 minutes on a slide because no one told them any different. They’ve done it that way for years. But those audiences couldn’t escape and we simply didn’t expect anything else from a presentation experience.

So yes we do need to work on engagement. Aside from interactivity, better slide variety, breaks, break out rooms and other energy-changers, body language still plays an important role when you’re essentially presenting to your own monitor.

You may feel it’s challenging to show body language in the virtual environment. But it’s still important to be aware that it does play a role. Our physical gestures can be subconsciously interpreted by those we are communicating with – this can work for or against us depending on the type of body language we use.

No matter how pretty a set of slides is or how informative the content, if the speaker is stiff and awkward the audience will feel uncomfortable too. So how can you appear confident and assertive when you are really a bag of nerves inside?

1: Smile when talking.

Smile because it helps your delivery. Try it (do it now if appropriate): say “smiling helps your delivery” both with and without a smile. Does your intonation change at all?

Aside from a smile helping your voice. It lights up your face. Yes, even yours, it really does. Indeed be aware of all your facial expressions. Show them, hide them if it’s wiser, but remember your face is in your power – so use it.

2: Make eye contact.

When presenting virtually you should stare down the barrel of your camera lens. It takes some getting used to. Keep practicing.

Or think of it like you’re delivering to your monitor. But you love your monitor, don’t you? Take a good fond look at it, go on, bat your best heart eyes. (This should make your eyes smile…)

3. Maintain good posture or stand up.

Good posture and positioning is important. It makes you look confident. Slouching, fidgeting or leaning back on your chair do not give a good impression. For presenting virtually, experts recommend a standing desk. You’ll be bigger (in stature), feel more in control, feel more confident and your body language will come more naturally. (Because, yes, we do recognise that sat-down-body-language can feel a bit fake).

4. Don’t be a sitting duck.

Whether you are sitting or standing your movements can contribute to your message. Leaning in adds emphasis (whether you are talking or listening), although a good guide is not to let your face take up more than 30% of the screen. So lean in “a little”.

Using hand gestures is a useful way to support the point that you are making. To make this natural position the camera so that the top half of your body is framed, and not only your head and shoulders. Relax and use your hands sparingly to emphasize your words.

Definitely don’t pop your elbows on the desk and move your hands about. You’ll end up looking like a Thunderbird. I’ve seen this happen, trust me, it’s awful.

Body language overview:

It may take a while for this all to come naturally to you. Don’t stress. Be authentic to yourself.

Do watch the virtual body language of other people and see what works for them… and what doesn’t. And of course video yourself in rehearsal or watch your live presentation back. You will find that you can easily spot your own presentation body language triumphs and wayward moves. Being aware of what you do and what others do is the first step to improving! Never be afraid to make mistakes: you’ll learn better and faster if you do 😊

Enjoy your next presentation experience! Read this related blog on body language.

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Are you using these interactive PowerPoint features to boost engagement?

Interactive PowerPoint features might not seem essential, but they can increase the level of engagement from your audience.

If using interactive PowerPoint captures attention, then 100% it’s worth adding to your bag of tricks.

With the trend to use video meetings set to continue, there’s no reason to encourage yet more Zoom fatigue. It’s tempting for viewers to do other things whilst in meetings – checking emails, scrolling news feeds, checking LinkedIn (me).

So here are two videos that show methods we recommend. Both can keep your audience paying attention AND feeling more engaged:

Interactive PowerPoint menu options

Not only does an interactive menu make your navigation clear, it also means you can jump around and present only certain sections or certain pages. This allows a more spontaneous presentation flow. Your delivery won’t get flat, and you can make it bespoke to your audience’s interests on the fly.

Display your case studies in PowerPoint

Both of the menus for cases studies above are interactive. It should be obvious by now that this allows you to click on whichever case study is relevant to your audience. Indeed, you can even ask the audience to pick. This is ideal for engagement.

And you can send the PPT via email for someone to view on their own monitor and make their own choices. We like this side of interactivity as it puts the customer first.

Also, whichever menu you prefer for your case studies, they both show your audience that you have many more (instead of pre-loading your deck with a small selection you chose earlier). Showing more – in a list or as logos – is a fun way to name drop clients without saying a word!

We hope these 2 videos give you some inspiration. Please share with a friend or colleague if it might help them too!
We have more Interactive PowerPoint examples on our vimeo page.

Good luck with your next interactive PowerPoint experience 🙂

A great PowerPoint template can make your life easier…

…but what makes a template great? The best brands are consistent across all communication channels. For your presentations to honour your brand then you need a great PowerPoint template.

At Presented, we see bad templates ALL THE TIME. We get sent templates that are ugly, built incorrectly and difficult to use. So today we are fighting back!

There are five things that make a template great:

1. A great PowerPoint template looks great

This should go without saying! Your presentation could be the audience’s first impression of your organisation. A template that lets you create top notch slides means that your first impression will be a good impression.

Include enough layouts that let your team swerve boring bullet points and you are on to a winner!

2. It is simple to use

To be great, a template needs to be used by everyone in your organisation. If everyone uses the same template, it will be easy to combine slides created by different people. Therefore, the template needs to be super simple to use, with clear instructions that prompt users to make good choices.

3. It is a bespoke solution to your specific needs

You know what type of slides your organisation regularly produces. A template that is tailored to your needs will take this into account and include appropriate layouts that do the legwork for you and your team. You will be able to create professional slides quickly, with a variety of layouts to give you flexibility. This might mean you include:

  • A library of commonly used slides (e.g. an “About Us” slide) that users can drop into their presentation or use as inspiration for creating new slides
  • A selection of brand-consistent icons that that can be recoloured and resized
  • A variety of colour options so that you can easily distinguish between different sections in the presentation (see how easy this colour change can be in the GIF below)

4. A great PowerPoint template ensures brand consistency

The main raison d’être of a template is to ensure that presentations are consistently created to a high level. The best way to make sure this happens is to train staff in how to use your template. That could be through live training sessions or simply a series of how-to videos.

A great template will make sure that your brand guidelines are followed easily:

  • Logos will be correctly sized and positioned in the master layouts
  • Brand colours will be added to the palette with the correct RGB values
  • Guidelines will be set up in the layouts so that content can be nicely aligned and kept within appropriate areas
  • Slide headings will use your brand font in a consistent size and positioning, if desired

…and if, for some reason, your brand requires you to have all images in the shape of a dog’s face, then a great template will include image placeholders to make this very quick:

GIF showing image placeholder that is in the shape of a dog's face

5. It is technically correct

This is where you need to know your onions. A great template needs to be set up correctly behind the scenes. For example:

  • Colour palettes should be installed into the template’s theme and arranged in the correct order so that charts are automatically populated with appropriate colours
  • Non-standard fonts should be embedded if possible
  • The template should have a small file size so that presentations can easily be shared
  • Unless there is an important reason for it, images should not compress automatically when you save a file as this can ruin image quality

If a layout is set up well, then you should be able to butcher a slide completely and simply hit “reset” to snap everything back to where it should be, like so:

GIF showing how you can hit the reset button to snap content back into their placeholders

We’re nerds when it comes to PowerPoint templates – if you want a great template that works for your organisation, let’s talk.

Prezi Video can revolutionise how you present remotely

Prezi Video has been taking the conferencing calling world by storm recently, and for a good reason!

Woman on laptop at home recording a Prezi Video

Good communication has never been so important. But now that most of us are restricted to working from home, there are real challenges to keeping that human element in your presentation. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, there are real challenges to simply keeping your audience’s attention and stopping them from multi-tasking whilst they’re on the call!

When you share your screen to present your slides, with most conferencing software your webcam feed is minimised (or disappears completely), which means that the focus for the audience is no longer on the presenter. This is OK sometimes, but not always! Sometimes you want the focus to be on the slides, but most of the time you want the focus to be on the presenter. After all, the presenter is the star of the show. But how can this be achieved when presenting online?

Enter Prezi Video! With Prezi Video you can create slides (or “frames” as they call them) that take up a small area of the screen, leaving plenty of space for the presenter to build engagement with the audience. These slides can be presented live using most video conferencing software, or you can record a video to send out later. If you need to focus on the detail of a particular slide, you can toggle views to focus only on the slides.

The Prezi Video software is not too expensive and the learning curve is not too steep. However, it is a little bit limited in what it can achieve compared to PowerPoint. Nonetheless, this is an exciting development, and hopefully it will push Microsoft to develop something similar and more advanced in PowerPoint.

Here’s an example of Prezi Video created by our Account Manager Sara:



PowerPoint GIFs: Create animated GIFs in PowerPoint

Give the gift of GIFs via PowerPoint

I must admit, I still don’t know how GIF is supposed to be pronounced, so I’m not sure if the alliteration above works well or not.
In an exciting new update earlier this year, Microsoft have decided to include “animated GIF” as an export option for a presentation in PowerPoint. So, now, you can use PowerPoint to create animated GIFs to your heart’s content.

Why do I care?

The GIF, which according to Wikipedia is now 32 years old, is the internet’s favourite format. No doubt you have seen plenty of examples of funny GIFs on social media. But they’re not only used for exchanging insults with your friends on WhatsApp!
GIFs can host attention grabbing animation with a very low file size, which makes them great for sharing. If you use them correctly, they can be a powerful tool to show off your brand’s personality, or to explain a process simply.

Where can I use GIFs?

GIFs are great for social media sharing, and most platforms make it easy to import your own GIF, for example on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. It doesn’t look like you can import your own GIF for Instagram, but as Instagram automatically plays any videos less than 15 seconds in length, you can always use PowerPoint’s “export to MP4” option instead.

Although this is slowly improving as more and more email clients are catching up, it’s worth noting that as it stands GIFs won’t always work on emails.

You can also add GIFs into your presentations. Although be careful to make sure the animation plays how you want it to.

The video below shows you how to export an animated GIF in PowerPoint.

And here is the final GIF:

PowerPoint GIFs: Example of a GIF created in PowerPoint

PowerPoint GIFs Example

Get in touch with us to discuss how we can create engaging animated GIFs for your business.

 

Work from home: How to stay focused

Here at Presented, we are a team of 11 and we all work from home. We had a brainstorm and have come up with some tips based on what we do to stay focused.

Work from home

Separate your work space from your living space

Have a clearly defined work area, even if it is not a desk but a spot at the kitchen table – “this is where I work”. Keep this space uncluttered while you are working.

Get dressed

Outside of the office environment there is no need to dress formally, but do get dressed at the start of the day – it signals you are ready to get going. We recommend no pyjamas, sorry.

Get comfortable

A good set up when you work from home is definitely important! Invest in a comfortable chair… sitting on the sofa with your laptop on your knee is only comfortable for a short amount of time. Make sure that when you are seated you are in a good position with the monitor in a straight line with your eyes, get a monitor stand if you need to. Natural light is much better than artificial light so set up your workspace somewhere with plenty of natural light. Oh and stay hydrated people.

Remember to take breaks

It’s easy to get so engrossed in what you are doing that you forget to take breaks, just because you are at home doesn’t mean you don’t need to stretch your legs or give your eyes a screen break.

Get outside

Cabin fever can be a problem for the work-at-homers so, if possible, get outside and get some exercise at least once a day. Even taking a quick walk around the block or changing into different clothes at the end of the day will help create a psychological shift between work and life.

Communicate

Being at home means no watercooler chats and it can make your feel quite isolated. Make sure you have regular chats with your co-workers!

Be strict with your time

Schedule your time – use a planner for your work with deadlines so you can see when you need to get things done. If you need to find ways of speeding up your workflow, check out this blog post on the Quick Access Toolbar. Avoid working longer hours than necessary. It can be tempting with your computer right there to carry on working, so be strict with yourself on this, say goodbye to your co-workers and sign off.

Enjoy!

Remember, you now get to choose the radio station and can eat smelly food for lunch without upsetting anyone. It’s the little things!

Here are some of the other top tips our team came up to stay sane during social distancing: