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7 Tactics For Giving Captivating Online Presentations

With the current pandemic, new challenges have arisen. Fairborn Digital Academy knows that students will rise to the occasion. One of the most prominent challenges teachers and students face are online presentations. What often works with live, in-person presentations may not translate through the internet. Engagement will be your key goal when giving an online presentation. Let’s discuss.

Here are seven ways to ensure your audience keeps their eyes on your online presentations–and off their social media accounts.

1. Increase your presence (i.e., visibility).

Many presenters complain that they can’t see their audience. The bigger problem is that (most of the time) they can’t see you. There are few things as compelling to other humans as the human face.

If you plan to share your screen, include a slide with your picture and name at the beginning and end of your talk. Consider adding it during the Q&A portion. The more you can make yourself visible — and not just a disembodied voice — the more engaged your audience will be.

2. Make the most of your voice.

Inflection, inflection, inflection. When your face and body language are not visible, your voice has to double its influence. Using your voice to project is essential during a live presentation. For the most part this remains true for web presentations. A monotone or low voice will only be more evident over your microphone.

Start by recording yourself and analyzing your strengths and weaknesses, then get to work. There is plenty of advice online about how to improve various vocal issues.  At the least, do some simple warm-ups before your presentation.  Just like a great spoken artist, your money is where your mouth is, so don’t treat it lightly.

3. Use the pause.

Under the cover of invisibility, online audiences can become very passive. As a result, presenters tend to go into long monologues that only further discourage participation and encourage tune-out. Embrace the pause.  

Pauses can be a fantastic tool for giving your audience a chance to process what you’ve said, ask a question, or comment about the topic. There are other strategic uses for the pause as well. A pause before revealing something important can build anticipation; one at the end of a sentence can reinforce a key point.

4. Plan interaction.

To keep your audience engaged,  build some interaction into your presentation. With the average focused attention span of humans hovering around 5 minutes, sporadic attempts at interaction are not going to cut it.

Get your audience interacting before they hit the attention free fall by planning some form of interaction every 4 to 5 minutes. Interactions can take many forms, like a question, a poll, or a white-boarding session.

Whatever you choose, make sure you plan and prepare ahead of time so interaction doesn’t fall by the wayside with everything else you have planned for the session.

5. Visually reinforce critical points.

You can get away with using fewer slides during an in-person presentation because it’s easier to gauge audience comprehension by their expressions or body language.

During an online presentation, it may be harder to gauge audience understanding. To make sure you don’t leave your audience in the dust, prepare a summary slide with key points covered after each section. This slide will help you as the presenter to remember to stop and answer questions. 

african american high school student in online classes

6. Be verbally visual and visually simple.

In online presentations, your words have to work even harder than in a live presentation. Think about creating pictures with your words.

Descriptions should use words that engage multiple senses.. Use personal stories or interesting comparisons. To gain a better understanding, listen to how your favorite podcasters use their voice and descriptions to draw you in.

Utilize your visuals strategically: design your slides to be viewable on any screen. If a viewer is tuning in from their phone or a late computer model, they might not see the slides as you do. Keep your graphics simple, crisp while limiting your slide animations. 

7. Be punctual and respectful.

While this applies to in-person presentations, ending on time plays even greater importance in a web presentation where it’s easy for people to drop off or tune out. Make it very clear up front that you plan to stop at a specific time. When that designated time arrives, wrap up your presentation and take any additional questions off-line or schedule another call.

Keeping your virtual audience engaged is no small task. Understanding where and how you are at risk for an audience to tune out and making adjustments in your presentation will help you achieve your goal and keep you from talking to yourself.