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Mastering the Virtual Presentation

Mastering the Virtual Presentation

So you still can’t meet your customers in person. Now what?

You know you can stay connected with them via virtual presentations. But how do you make sure that catch their attention and reinforce your message?

It’s all about persuasion

Whatever your agenda, your ultimate goal is to persuade someone about something, whether you’re selling widgets, introducing a service, or simply disseminating information. And don’t forget the most powerful agenda: Your presentation should persuade your customers subliminally that you — and only you — deliver value they can’t get anywhere else.

Deck out your decks

Create a compelling opening.
Seconds count. You have about 15 of them before minds wander. There’s no point in being coy or oblique. Be bold, control the narrative and open with a real attention-grabber, like what’s in it for them. State what you’ve come to get — the sale, the contract, etc. — and announce the benefit right away. 

Provide a roadmap. Preview your message and set expectations (e.g., we’re going to cover 5 key points). Delve into your message. Summarize everything when you’re done and tell them where you’ve arrived.

Build a casePersuasion is an art that involves creating a successive accumulation of points that guide your audience to an inescapable conclusion.

Be concise. Don’t be wordy. Limit bullet points to just a few words. Aim for no more than 3 bullet points per slide. Intrigue and inform. Go granular verbally or later.

Murder your darlings. Review every page with a critical eye and be ruthless about editing. Ask yourself if you really need each bullet point or slide. Delete freely.

Hold their attention. A good start is not enough. Craft strategic moments that catch your audience out. Place a single point on a page for such moments and use them as the briefest pause. Use humor where appropriate. Speak analogously. Listeners get tired of being hammered by points; analogies help them to understand, empathize and visualize. The pictures they create in their own minds will be memorable because they are theirs.

Presentations cannot live by data dumps alone. Numbers are the support players for the persuasive story you’re telling.

Update your PowerPoint and follow directions. Using the same-old same old version runs counter to the message that yours is a fresh take on things. When recording voiceovers for slides, make sure you save them according to directions — this will save you more work and aggravation than you can imagine.

Use compelling images to tell a story. Eye-catching visuals reinforce your message and hold viewers’ attention. Employ them to enhance the impact of your points and to act as a visual call to action. Selling an eco-friendly product? Show images of how the environment is currently being ravaged. Promoting a more efficient distribution service? Show images of who benefits and how.

Set things in motion

Animate. Embed video and animated gifs for that little extra something.

Facilitate virtual feedback. Messaging tools like Slack allow for virtual high-fives and praise. Emojis provide encouragement with lightning bolts, a raised-hand hallelujah and even a bearded Robert Redford as Jeremiah Johnson nodding approval. Real-time feedback can keep listeners engaged.

Say it like you mean it … because you do

Don’t memorize. Bullet points are guideposts. Use them as talking points that keep the presentation on track and on message. Fill in the details verbally and allow yourself some spontaneity. Memorization can add stiffness and anxiety about forgetting. Keep talking points close at hand, even on post-it notes around your screen. Imagine various scenarios and reactions to content ahead of time. Do a little scenario-planning ahead of time and think of responses to anticipated questions/comments.

Speak clearly. How you sound can affect on your credibility as much as what you say. Know your own abilities and avoid complicated language. Craft messages that you can articulate naturally.

Don’t rush. Much as the goal is to win, this is not a race. Those short bullet points and tight slides mean you have time. Breathe. Pausing is powerful. Read for emphasis and clarity. Allow your audience to absorb what you’re saying.

Semper Fido. Practice makes perfect. Having an audience helps. Present to your dog. You’ll get undivided attention and your dog will listen over and over again, then reward you with the love you always hope to get from your customers. (Don’t bother trying this on the cat.)

Set yourself up for success

Trouble shoot. Test your connection, audio quality, technology and your workspace beforehand.

Create your own cone of silence. Try to keep pets, children and nosey neighbors out of your space for the duration of the presentation. Turn off notifications including sounds, vibrations, etc., that might interrupt the meeting.

Work your angles. Elevate your laptop so the camera doesn’t hit you at an awkward angle. Better yet, position your laptop so you can stand and present with confidence and power.

Make yourself look good. Use applications from Zoom and other teleconferencing programs to create virtual backgrounds that hide your messy home office or blur your face if you’re jumping on a call before you’ve put on makeup or to hide your early-morning coffee-splattered shirt.

Look friendly and inviting. Smile naturally and speak to the camera — not the screen.

Put everyone on equal visual footing. If there’s a mix of team members working from both the office and remotely, have everyone dial in and have their computer’s camera trained on their faces to send the message that everyone is in this together.

Don’t overwhelm your audience. Have the presenter broadcast from his or her office to recreate the image of a single presenter in a meeting room or auditorium. Presentations that show the whole team around you can make your audience feel ganged-up on.

Make strategic use of screen-sharing and your camera. Present what’s important while still making a personal connection.

Nothing beats live presentations, face-to-face interaction and real human contact. But when life gives you lemons — e.g., unprecedented lockdowns and forced work-from-home arrangements — make lemonade!

Get in touch today to start delivering more compelling pitches to your customers.


Posted in: Thoughts
March 26, 2020

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