Ever since we posted our tips for video conference calls on March 3, thousands of articles, webinars and blog posts have proliferated the Web on the subject. So by now there should be no excuse for anyone being backlit against a window, so they’re a shadow on the screen.
Actually, the mechanics of delivering a good presentation over video are easily fixed. It’s time focus on what really matters — the content. The hard part is crafting and delivering the content for highest impact.
It’s difficult enough to deliver a persuasive presentation, particularly in technical or complex fields like health care or life sciences. These days, several factors have exponentially increased the risk of losing your audience’s attention:
- Computer and smartphone alerts distracting us with the latest breaking news
- Co-working in a space with home-schooling in the background
- A constant stream of side chatter in the chat window
It is imperative to curate the most essential information into a cohesive narrative, and to deliver it succinctly. Data dumps never worked. Now, over video, an endless string of data slides is just the excuse your audience needs to turn off their own webcam and check their stock portfolio.
Start with the headlines
You’ve heard it before — keep it down to three key ideas, themes or messages. These are your so-called headlines. They should be presented three times:
- At the beginning, to set the stage
- In the middle, as part of the core narrative, and
- In the summary
This repetition ensures your audience not only hears it, but can remember it.
Use data sparingly
It is still important to use data to support your key theses. But you must focus on the most relevant data, statistics and facts. If you have a more extensive packet of information, you can send it via email after the presentation as supporting documentation.
Keep it short
Anecdotally, we are hearing that people are more fatigued at the end of a day of video calls than they would be if the meetings had been in person. We are probably exercising attention muscles that are out of practice. We also are not enjoying the feedback loop of in-person meetings that often give us some energy.
If you had planned a one-hour in-person meeting, we strongly recommend keeping it down to no more than 45 minutes. The shorter the better.
Break it up
If you must have a longer presentation, see how you might break it up into segments. This allows audience participation, which increases engagement and attention. Insert a poll, or pause for questions. Even a five-minute break for conversation and audience involvement can help to reset the energy of the virtual room.
To ensure your key messages are remembered, you can send a brief follow-up email summarizing them.
We are likely to be delivering online presentations for some time. Even when the global COVID-19 lockdowns start to ease, experts say business travel will remain greatly diminished for a while. These tips will help you to ensure you can make the most of these communications challenges.
If you need help with an upcoming video presentation or online interview, we are here to help.