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You have great ideas. Yes, you! But are you giving them the best chance of reaching your audience?
I’m talking about virtual presentations. You might be thinking: “I’m great at presentations!” Okay, but are you great at virtual presentations? It’s a whole new skillset!
Alexia Vernon is a public speaking expert, founder of Alexia Vernon Empowerment, and author of Step into Your Moxie: Amplify Your Voice Visibility, and Influence in the World. She knows all about how to get your audience engaged virtually. I spoke to her on my live-streaming show, Inside Scoop, about how to create virtual presentations that really work. You can check out the entire episode here.
Doing a virtual presentation means engaging your audience in different ways, since there are so many more distractions. You have to work twice as hard to keep their attention.
Here are Alexia’s top five tips for creating compelling virtual presentations:
1. Reverse engineer.
Alexia recommends starting with your intention for doing the presentation and thinking about two related questions:
First, what do you want your audience to take away from your presentation? Begin there and then work backwards to figure out what the presentation content should be. Then the second question: What do you want people to be able to do differently? Think about the questions, evidence, and narrative you need to get your audience there.
2. Don’t hide behind your slide deck.
“People right now are hungry to have true, genuine connections with speakers, with leaders, with business professionals,” Alexia says. Just reading directly off of your slide deck is boring, and it also prevents a genuine connection with the audience. Slides can be useful, but they shouldn’t be a crutch. Instead, try tip number 3.
3. Bring your audience into your presentation.
Having a few opportunities to take questions throughout your presentation allows for direct audience engagement. You can also try what Alexia calls the “mini hot seat” — bring people up on-screen to chat. If you can help people in real time or show your skills as a consultant or coach, that will stick with your audience. Show people the evidence they need to get your message — don’t just tell them about the evidence.
I try to do this with many of the presentations I give — I did one for Chief on media training and had a “hot seat” where I asked the women to practice live with me. Another presentation I did with Toyota about productivity and list making included some breakout rooms for attendees to work through their productivity style together. The response for both was amazing and memorable.
4. Pace yourself.
As you can see if you watch the Inside Scoop episode, Alexia has a very pleasant, calming voice. Part of that is the way she paces herself while she’s talking. Nerves can make you speak very quickly, but a slower, measured voice will be most effective. That’s easier said than done, of course. Harnessing the power of a pause and a smile can help you train yourself to regulate your voice at a better speed. And also make sure to cut out any filler words.
5. Tell stories and ask questions.
It can be hard to tell stories when you’re not getting feedback in the virtual setting. The story-question format is key, through. You need to choose narratives with the end in mind — what question do you want to be able to ask your audience when you finish? That question should allow your audience to start imagining the takeaway you had in mind in step number one.Alexia has many more actionable insights on creative ways to engage your audience in a virtual format. You can check out the rest of them here.