With just a few tweaks, entrepreneurs can grow their network, pitch their businesses and deliver masterful online presentations.
Free Book Preview Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising
Get a glimpse of how to use Facebook’s marketing resources to your business’s advantage.
February 15, 2021 4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Presentations have always been a crucial part of business activity at every scale and in every industry. Whether it’s a startup using their pitch deck to convince investors to make investments or multinationals presenting M & A proposals, the ability to give a clear and compelling presentation is essential for every career or businessperson. In 2020 and now into this new year, the ability to deliver well-devised presentations became even more important as more activities have shifted online.
That shift has made it more convenient on one hand, but also more nerve-wracking for many. For instance, while giving a presentation at a physical meeting, it’s easier to break the ice with a joke and get feedback as you go on, as opposed to an online meeting where everyone else is muted. Still, online presentations can turn out exceptional if done right, and here are a few tips to help you achieve that perfection.
1. Understand the platform fully
Unlike physical presentations where the components are standard (the stage or presentation area, the screen and pointer, etc.), there are many videoconferencing platforms, and their controls can differ significantly. Struggling to find a function halfway into the meeting can ruin your confidence and distract from your overall message. To avoid that, confirm what platform you’ll be using and spend time going through the settings to familiarize yourself with how things work before the meeting. If possible, do test runs of your entire presentation as well, complete with audience members. The more comfortable you are with the platform; the smoother things will be.
2. Master your presentation
Have you heard of “Death by PowerPoint?” It’s when a person uses slides terribly, such as by having confusing information or, more commonly, by simply reading off the slides in a robotic monotone voice that puts the audience to sleep. It’s much easier to bore your audience when you’re delivering a presentation online, for the obvious reason that it’s easier for them to be distracted than if they were in a live audience watching you on stage.
One way to combat this pitfall is by making your presentation more engaging, by making sure it contains the elements of a good networking presentation and using techniques such as vocal variety, stories and humor. The only way to pull this off successfully is by knowing your material in such depth that you can speak in a conversational and off-the-cuff manner without losing the essence of your message.
3. Use high-definition devices
This will be dependent on the type of presentation you’re giving and how important it is. For casual presentations to your colleagues at work, you can stick with the webcam and microphone on your computer, even though your voice might sound muffled at times and the video might not be very clear. When you are pitching your company for investment or to get a major contract, however, consider making the investment to buy an external webcam and microphone that will get your video and voice across loud and clear. There are even apps that allow you to clean up your audio, so that’s an option if you’re on a tight budget. Either way, the clearer you are, the easier it will be to pass your message across and keep your audience engaged from throughout.
4. Use the chat feature
Unlike an in-person presentation, online presentations limit your ability to engage directly with the audience, but you can still do that by using the chat function in whatever platform you’re using. You can ask the audience to submit questions, or you can ask questions and ask them to respond. Even something as simple as asking them to type in “Yes” or “No” in response to something you’ve asked will up the level of engagement and keep them more focused on what you’re saying. You can then pick out questions and comments and respond to them while naming the individuals who sent them in. That will have the effect of making your presentation more personal, thus encouraging more to participate in order to get a shoutout.
The virtual meeting revolution has made meetings easier, more convenient and much safer, but it also threatens to degrade the personal element of meetings and presentations. The tips provided above will enable you to deliver masterful presentations that will hold your audience’s attention from start to finish.