Tips on how to look good in a virtual meeting
1. DECLUTTER DON’T LET YOUR BACKGROUND BE DISTRACTING
You might think you’re adding interest and quirkiness, but having a messy background is distracting. The most distracting are items with text – your viewers will be reading those. Sure, you might want to show off your bookshelf, but if those spines are readable, well, just know some audience members will indeed be reading instead of listening to you. So if your meeting is an important one – declutter your background. Pick up stray items, plan what’s visible.
You can often change the angle of your screen to find a better view without rearranging furniture, so try different angles. A friend had her drying laundry out one time – we agreed the best place for that was behind her chair. Blocked from view, but her clothes were still drying!
2. CAMERA TEST YOUR ANGLES RAISE YOUR CAMERA TO YOUR EYE LEVEL
You don’t want to be looking down your nose in a virtual prseentation, i.e. at people. Neither do you want them to be looking up your nostrils!
Likewise if the camera is too high it may mean your eyebrows are constantly raised… surprise isn’t always the right look to have on your face 🙂
A great tip is to set up a dummy meeting and record it. Position your camera in various places and heights and when you play back the recording you can objectively see what works best for you.
3. DROP THE MIC
You don’t just need to look good, you need to sound good in a virtual presentation. Using in-built microphones generally gives you below par voice quality. If presenting is an important part of your job then invest in a mic so that you sound beautiful! Vocal clarity and power will help you to convince and connect with your audience. There are many brands out there – and many recommendations for different price points.
4. LIGHT UP!
Whilst natural light is often going to give the best results, we can’t always control where windows, power sources, desks and other obstacles might be. So for good lighting, use a lamp at 45 degrees. Again, record your set up and see what works best for you. And what works at different times of day. A lot of pros use a halo light. Avoid “arty” lighting where half of your face is in shadow. It might look “cool”, but you shouldn’t be going for that look. You should be connecting with your audience and showing you are open, honest, transparent (not literally transparent we hasten to add). Shadows look arty, but don’t display openness in a virtual set up.
5. KEEP EXPERIMENTING – GET IT CHECKED
Ask a friend or colleague. You can’t always be objective about your own appearence. If you have recordings get some votes on what works. And keep working on improving this. Once you have your set up sorted – it’s going to boost your confidence knowing that you look good.
And it might help you to look at your own camera feed less when in that virtual presentation. We all have a glance to check we look good right?
6. NOW YOU LOOK GOOD, MAKE SURE YOUR SLIDES DO TOO…
You didn’t think we wouldn’t mention that your slides need to look good in a virtual presentation too right?
Don’t waste hours of your time sorting and formatting your slides – outsource that stress and time drain to the professionals. We’ll help you to look good.
Interactive Presentations have many benefits
Have you seen interactive presentations in action? Please check out this screen recording of one of our portfolios. We’ve collated a number of cool features in PowerPoint that we think not everyone will know about. Press play and see which are familiar to you.
There’s no secret behind these interactive presentation skills. We use a mixture of hyperlinks and animation triggers. It’s all in native PowerPoint, so if you have Office 365 installed (and updated) then you’ll have the ability to use all these interactive PowerPoint features. Easy!
Interactivity boosts engagement
Having a non-linear presentation gives a more personal feel when you are delivering any kind of pitch or presentation.
Clicking through a PowerPoint menu can for many reasons: driven by your own curiosity, your prospect’s questions, or the bespoke relevance to your audience for example. This non-linear exploration improves attention as viewers believe the option choices are more relevant to them. And they’re right! (or they should be!) Relevance is a big deal when it comes to engagement.
Interactive features can keep your screen uncluttered
By using space “off the screen” we can make the most of the viewing space on each slide. Cluttered slides are BAD for audiences. They pose a risk of cognitive overload, and hierarchy of information can be lost: viewers don’t know which bit of content is the most important so eyes jump around and so does focus.
Having content “enter” draws attention to it – and the “exit” feature (like for a video) is ideal to lighten their load too.
Interactive presentations impress your prospects / leads / clients / audience
Interactivity is such a good way to present case studies to your clients.
A full page of logos is perfect for every eventuality. Then only click on the ones that are relevant to that meeting: so you deep dive into that story alone. You may click on ones that your prospect asks about, or ones that you feel are the best to demonstrate your value. Either way the benefit of having a full page or menu list of all the case studies gives more credibility about your experience and expertise. Nice bonus!
If you think interactive presentations would give you more of an edge – get in touch. We’d love to help you.
Need a presentation structure for persuasion, for selling, for convincing…?
Since founding Presented we’ve always been interested in the part that neuroscience plays in the presentation experience.
As well as how information is displayed to best be understood by the brain (and quickly), there are also scientific-based structures that will help your audience to recall your messages.
Cliff Atkinson’s celebrated presentation book “Beyond Bullet Points” details a strategy that forms the backbone of our “go to” presentation structure here at Presented. It ticks the neuroscience box in several ways: repetition, engagement, relevance, repetition, clarity, proof points, conviction and of course repetition.
If you remember one thing from that sentence it’s likely to be repetition right? Because it was repeated in the text. It’s just a clumsy way to demonstrate that it works. It’s not rocket science but it is neuroscience.
The best presentation structure, full stop:
1. We set the scene, we make sure it is relevant for the audience, we engage with a challenge of how to get from A to B, and state a call to action.
That’s the beginning.
2. The middle is stating and proving 3 key points that support a call to action. Assuming you have 3, and we recommend that number but we can stretch to 5 if it’s necessary (it probably isn’t).
3. And the end is a recap of the 3 key points and that call to action.
So in summary, we engage the audience, and tell them what we’re going to tell them. Then we tell them. And then we tell them what we’ve told them. The repetition.
It’s important to point out that with this presentation strategy that the call to action is not as simple as a “next step”. It’s more a fulfillment of the presentation objective.
For example, a call to action is likely to be: “Partner with us for the best software solution” (a bit generic, apologies). “Partner with us for…” or “Enroll today for…” or “Embrace the changes to be at the forefront with x…”. The call to action should be motivating, it should lead to a benefit or an advantage. And from the rest of the presentation content it should be as clear as pie exactly why it’s the right action to take.
We don’t treat the call to action as a “phone us to make an appointment” or “visit our website to find out more”. It is however the objective of why you are presenting. In its simplest form it’s usually to motivate or persuade.
So make the most of the opportunity you have to present to an audience. By wall means include a next step, it can appear on a final slide to add some practical clarity, but it’s not what we mean here by a call to action.
The best structure for investment decks
Pitches for investment can follow the same structure that we’ve loosely described above. But there is a difference.
Here the angels, investors, dragons, call them what you will – they are all looking out for some key business information that they need to see in order to judge the merits of the business case being presented.
Guy Kawasaki has listed out 10 slides that are required, and we created our own guidance PDF to cover these. (The link will take you to a LinkedIn doc post).
You’ll need to detail: The scene, the problem and the opportunity that your service or product will solve, the size of the marketplace, how you’re going to tap that market, what your personal credentials are, where you’ve got to so far and your timeline for the next 3 years. You’ll also need to acknowledge what the competition are doing and what differentiates you from them.
Ideally you’ll have just one slide for each of these areas. If you go off topic – it might be entertaining for you, but it’s unlikely to be needed for the angels at the initial pitch stage. They’ll do their research and due diligence so you won’t want to drown them in details too early on.
Another recommended structure
The next best structure to mention is a non-linear presentation!
You’ll still need to create a powerful beginning, of course, and a call to action that fulfills your goals.
A non-linear structure involves letting the audience decide where to go. Although it works well with small meetings, it can work with big meetings also where you can set up voting and really let the masses choose their own destination.
Hyperlinked content, menus, case studies that are chosen for that particular client or customer – all are non-linear features that you can click at will. It keeps the presentation fresh, and makes it feel far more bespoke and special for the customer.
Need more ideas regarding presentation structures?
Talk to the team and we’ll help you smash your next presentation.
You may need more than presentation design…
Of course, our team does superb presentation design. We’re simply expert graphic designers and can give you even more. So whether you need to save time, up your presentation ante, get your teams producing consistent material or need a creative blast. We’re here for you.
Our team boasts some amazing wordsmiths and strategists. By crafting a convincing storyline, your presentation will convince and convert more of your audience. Whether you are raising investment, pitching, updating internal stats or running through some change management – your story should be memorable and clear. We’ve studied the neuroscience behind communication and can help your presentation hit the mark.
Be surprised by PowerPoint:
Avoiding a Death by PowerPoint experience is even more of a challenge now so many of us are presenting remotely. It’s too easy for an audience to multitask, and our attention spans are getting shorter by the week.
To increase engagement we can recommend several of PowerPoint’s latest features. From Zoom dashboards to Morphs and from Hyperlinked Menus to Triggers. Interactive presentations allow you to respond to your audience’s needs and interests. Movement and a non-linear approach will help you to captivate attention. And you’ll likely get kudos points too.
Yes, even the word templates sounds a bit boring, but they are genius! A correctly built user-friendly template will save you masses of time and will ensure that your teams produce nice looking (on brand) slides time and again.
Just say the Word.
For a long time we’ve kept it quiet that we’re expert in Word. But step into the light dear team – yes we can take your Word woes away. We set template styles, colour palettes to match branding, and basically make Word look more like InDesign. Indeed, if you have an InDesign and want it to be in Word instead, or even PowerPoint (yes of course), then we are your team.
Some surprising things too.
We’re graphic designers. So can turn our hand to many areas, such as infographics, and ad hoc items like conference banners, chocolate bars & wrappers, logos, lorry curtains, postcards etc. If you aren’t sure we can do it – just ask, we’ll always answer honestly about our expertise.
Pimp us out.
We already partner with many agencies, often working as a white label provider. If you want to offer your clients a little of what we can do – then we can provide you with an unbranded portfolio for you to share.
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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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 🙂