Now that so many people are working from home, remote software and presentations on Zoom have become common practice. However, they may take some getting used to. It’s not the same as presenting in person. It’s harder to express yourself through body language and to connect with your audience. Furthermore, there might be some technical difficulties you’ll have to deal with. Understandably you want to do a good job and impress everyone. But how? Use these Zoom presentation tips.
Tips for preparing your Zoom presentation
Just like with a conventional, in-person presentation, it’s important to be prepared. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, from a malfunctioning webcam to your dog doing something weird behind you without you realizing it.
The first thing to do is make sure the slides look good, even on a tiny screen. Some people will be viewing them on desktop monitors, while others will be using their laptops, tablet, or smartphones.
You don’t want to force them to squint their eyes. So keep it simple and sleek. Don’t add too much text or special effects.
Remember that the slides are there to highlight the main ideas you’ll be discussing, not for you to read from them. You have notes for that.
With that being said, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the content beforehand, so you only have to use your notes sparingly. You can find more tools that will help you research and organize your ideas here. Plus, you’ll most likely have to answer some questions, and if you have to look for the information in your notes, it can make a bad impression.
However, remote presentations do offer some advantages, like using two monitors and having your notes displayed on the second monitor. This makes life a lot easier than the analog version.
Both PowerPoint and Google Slides have a Presenter View that lets you see your Speaker Notes, the current slide, the next slide, a storyboard with future slides, as well as a timer. This will really help with the transitions.
It’s also useful to rehearse a couple of times. Once, you’ll want to do a demo with a friend, so you get used to the technical aspects and overcome your camera shyness. The second time you can record yourself for some fine-tuning based on your friend’s feedback.
The first “technical” aspect you’ll want to take care of is cleaning up the clutter behind you. That way it won’t distract the participants.
Most people are quite curious, so they’ll be trying to identify various objects behind you instead of focusing on the presentation, so it’s an important Zoom tip to follow. At least if you want to get your point across to them.
Your background should be as plain as possible. If you can’t find a spot in your home that provides that, you can also use a virtual Zoom background but choose one that looks professional.
You’ll also want to check your image beforehand to see if the room is well lit. Remember that if the light coming from behind you is stronger than the light from the front, the camera will only show a silhouette.
The third item on your list should be to minimize the chances of interruptions by locking the door and informing everyone that lives with you that you’ll be doing an online presentation, so they know you’re busy. You’ll also want to minimize digital interruptions by closing other apps and windows on your computer and muting notifications. Since you’ll be sharing your screen with your audience, this also serves to protect your privacy.
About half an hour to an hour before the meeting, check the internet connection, test the audio and video, and if you’re using a laptop, make sure it’s plugged in. You can test the audio and video from the settings menu.
This is also a good time to adjust your camera and chair so people can see your face. It’s a better view than them seeing only your chin, neck, or the top of your head.
Then there are a few technical tricks that will help the presentation run smoothly. You can set the audio and video to be off when entering the meeting for both the host (in this case, you) and the participants. This will allow you to make some last-minute adjustments and avoid any awkward moments with the participants.
We recommend you disable that “ding dong” audio notification when someone enters the meeting. It might be useful when the meetings are small, but not for large groups.
You’ll also want to learn the shortcut for muting everyone at once but yourself. That way you don’t have to keep asking participants to mute themselves whenever you hear background noise.
If you’re using a Mac, the shortcut is CMD + Shift + M. For Windows, it’s Alt + M.
More Zoom tips: Engage the audience
Lastly, you’ll want to maintain the audience’s attention and engage with them. This may be harder to do online than in-person, but it’s not impossible.
You can still vary your tone to highlight important points and use your facial expression to connect with participants. Of course, one problem is eye contact.
Even if you may be able to see the participants through their webcams, everyone will tend to look at their screens, so it doesn’t really look like you’re making eye contact. Remember to glance directly at the camera from time to time – whenever you want to emphasize important information.
You can also use humor, but that depends on your company’s culture. If jokes tend to be frowned upon, you can engage your audience by asking them questions or requesting feedback either directly or through the chat feature. Otherwise, there’s a good chance that people will space out or discreetly start doing something else.
On the other hand, avoid overwhelming the participants with information. As Aristotle explained in his work “Rhetoric,” people usually remember only three things when learning something new. It’s better to choose those three things yourself and repeat them towards the end.
To conclude the presentation, you can either ask everyone a question related to the information you gave them and discuss some of the answers or propose a call to action and discuss the feedback. This again depends on your company’s culture as well as your position in it.
With these Zoom tips, I hope you ace your next presentation!