The most effective meeting strategies and virtual meetings involve planning and preparing ahead of time. Without effective virtual presentation skills, the ability to reach your intended audience becomes increasingly tedious, even if you are presenting factual and authentic information. Whether you are hosting a meeting or planning a presentation, using a few virtual presentation tips can go a long way when sharing a message and making an impact.
Creating Your Virtual Presentation
Determine Your Meeting Purpose
Define the purpose of your meeting before you begin prepping the presentation you are creating. What is the end goal of your presentation? Are you attempting to sell a product, solidify a plan, or promote awareness?
Cater to Your Audience
Who is your audience for the presentation? How does your audience typically respond to virtual presentations? Is there a way to implement effective virtual presentation skills to entice and engage your audience with the presentation you intend to create?
Focus on Quality Content
Always ensure that your presentation includes content that is original, unique, and extremely engaging. Avoid offering in-depth analysis or too much text on each of your presentation slides, as this may deter your audience from paying attention or engaging with you. Instead, create clearly defined bullet points, headers, and talking points to help streamline your presentation, rather than stagnating it.
Presentation Design Matters!
When creating the design for your presentation slides, it is important to keep the following basic design tips in mind when creating a virtual presentation:
- Keep it Simple: Keep it simple when designing your virtual presentation. Avoid creating slides that are too colorful, busy, or filled with text.
- Use Easy-to-Read Fonts: Use easily readable fonts when creating virtual slides. Avoid cute, fancy, or decorate fonts when you want to quickly convey a message.
- Choose a Color Scheme: Choose a color scheme that is representative of your business and brand or of the message you want to convey. Limit your presentation to one to three main colors. Avoid using more than five colors in all of your presentation slides to prevent your audience from becoming distracted or confused during your presentation.
Advanced Presentation Design Tips
For some more advanced design tips, we’ve asked a few presentation design experts to contribute some important concepts and ideas to create the best virtual presentation. Thank you to Scott Schwertly, of Ethos3 and Kristy Lam, of Stinson Design for contributing!
Virtual presentation design tips from Kristy Lam, of Stinson Design.
Tip #1: Use minimal and understated animations
“When designing slides for a presentation delivered virtually, be sure to consider the quality of the internet connection between you and your audience. It’s best to limit use of quick, flashy animations so that a poor internet connection can keep up, and your presentation won’t seem laggy. At Stinson, we design decks for clients’ webinars and virtual meetings with simple animations and slide transitions. A bonus is that when done well, the simplicity creates a sophisticated and professional feel to the presentation.”
Tip #2: Know the tech and specs you’re working with
“Do you know if your meeting attendees are viewing your presentation on a computer, TV, or projector? Will they be printing out the slides ahead of time? These are a couple questions we always ask our clients with new projects since it affects how we design the slide deck. The choice of fonts, colors, layouts, and animations are all in consideration of how the presentation will be viewed.”
Tip #3: Give purpose to every word on every slide
“It’s difficult to hold the attention of your audience in person and even more so when presenting virtually. Take time to distill the content in your presentation and work on each slide so that every element (titles, subtitles, bullets, images, and so on) has a purpose. Repetitive, redundant, and irrelevant topics are significant factors of losing a listener’s attention—have your content be the opposite!”
Tip #4: Know who you’re presenting to
“A common tip that we’re sure you’ve heard before, but we cannot stress enough: know your audience! Particularly for virtual meetings, you’ll want to know why they’re attending and where they’re located so that you can make sure your speaking points are useful and would translate cross-culturally if needed. It’s also good to consider designing your presentation with an accessible mindset—this can include colorblind-friendly palettes and larger text.”
Virtual presentation design tips from Scott Schwertly, of Ethos3.
Tip #1: Respect Cognitive Load Theory
“Without getting overly scientific, presenters need to understand that the human brain can only remember and retain so much information. In order to respect this theory and to respect your audience, you must be willing to find ways to stretch out your content to help break down your information into bite size pieces. For instance, instead of having one slide with three bullet points, a better alternative would be to break everything out into 3-4 separate slides.”
Tip #2: Utilize the Rule of Thirds
“Since most presentations today are migrating towards a stronger use of photography, it’s a great practice to abide by the rule of thirds. What is it? Imagine your slide can be cut in three ways both horizontally and vertically. When placing an image of a living being (i.e. human, cat, dog, etc), you need to make sure to place the eyes of the subject in the upper thirds respecting the horizontal layout. If giving a presentation about coffee, then place the coffee cup on the far left or far right and not the middle of the slide respecting the vertical laws of the rule of thirds.”
Tip #3: Choose Fonts Wisely
“A good rule of thumb is two font options are the Goldilocks of presentation design. One font option is boring and three is okay but pushing it. Two font options is just right. And, when choosing two font options it is always ideal to go with two san-serif fonts (no protruding edges). If you insist on including a serif font (with protruding edges), then it is best to make your primary font choice san-serif and your secondary font choice a serif font.”
Tip #4: Always Opt for Visuals
“Did you know that when you choose a visual (i.e. photography, infographic, etc) over text-based information (i.e. bullet points or paragraphs) retention increases by 42%? It’s that simple. A photo is going to have a far greater impact on your audience’s retention level than a bullet point. The lesson: minimize or completely remove the use of bullet points with any presentation you create moving forward.”
Preparing for Virtual Presentations
Preparing for your presentation should be done by first researching other presentations that are similar to your own. Researching presentations on similar projects can provide useful tips on body language, tone, and conveying the overall message you want to share. Spend time practicing with another co-worker or individual that you trust to gain valuable insight into your current presentation skills and areas where you can improve.
Tone of Presentation
Consider the tone you want to use in your presentation based on the message you intend to send and the goals you want to achieve. Are you trying to craft a virtual presentation that is fun, playful, and interactive, or do you want to convey a message of urgency and action with facts and statistics? Visualize your presentation before you begin writing your script to ensure that it aligns with the outcome you desire and the goals you want to reach.
The How to Conduct Virtual Presentations
Kicking Off of a Presentation
Opening strong is an important part of delivering a successful presentation. When it comes to virtual presentations and hosting meetings remotely, it’s crucial to start on the right foot. A strong opening to your meeting will captivate the attention of a remote audience, and it’s a great start to keep them engaged throughout the presentation.
Get in the Right Mindset
If you typically find yourself nervous or anxious going into presentations, be sure to spend time practicing your presentation weeks prior to the official presentation itself. You can also record yourself running through the presentation to hone in on areas that still require improvements. Use calming tactics and ensure that you are eating properly on the day of your presentation for optimal performance. These preparation tactics will help you prepare to start your presentation.
Start Your Presentation Off Strong
The kick-off of your presentation should open with a bang, especially if one of your goals is to obtain the full and complete attention of your audience. Your first slider should be extremely visually appealing, relevant, and engaging in order to help captivate your audience.
During the Presentation
Remain Confident in Your Message
During the presentation, it is always important to remain confident in the message you are sharing and the words you are saying. If you do not believe the message you are conveying, why should your audience? Tone and confidence both go a long way for any presentation, but especially for virtual presentations.
Use Voice to Your Advantage
With virtual presentations, the video may not always be on you. That’s why voice and tone are critical to delivering a successful virtual presentation. During the presentation, your voice should match the content that is seen on presentation slides. Consider emphasizing the change of tone and pitch as needed to better hold your audience’s attention. When preparing for your presentation, keep in mind the slides and content in which voice tone and pitch will change, and practice this before the meeting.
Ending a Presentation
Keep the Conversation Going
End your presentation with a thought-provoking opinion or by asking your audience a question. Keeping the conversation going once a presentation has ended is a great sign, as it shows that you have succeeded in engaging your audience. Memorize a list of questions to ask your audience once your presentation has ended to further share the message of your presentation while also receiving valuable feedback from those in the audience.
Knowing how to properly create and present a virtual presentation can help you achieve any goal you have in mind when presenting in front of others. With effective meeting strategies and virtual meetings preparation, gain peace of mind the next time you are planning a virtual presentation, regardless of the topic you are covering.
After the Presentation
After the meeting, be sure to follow up with a copy of the presentation, as well as any notes with important details and the next steps following the presentation. Hopefully, either you or someone on your team was taking notes as questions came up.