Remember when we used to sit in a conference room for face-to-face meetings? No? Haha, me neither! The days of in-person events seem like a distant memory. However, with COVID vaccines rolling out, I am hopeful that we will soon be able to step away from this world of virtual communication and return to the land of in-person meetings (and meet-ups). Even so, something tells me that Zoom will have a presence in our lives forever, so let’s learn to be rock stars on it! Whether you’re using the platform for a job interview, important meeting, or digital conference, here’s how to give a powerful Zoom presentation.
How to Prepare for a Zoom Presentation
We have all been in that meeting. You know the type: the presenter doesn’t seem to be prepared, he/she is talking too slow or too fast, and the items he/she references aren’t visible. To make matters worse, the presenter’s background is so distracting that you can hardly focus on the content.
Make sure you don’t become the perpetrator of an awful Zoom presentation by following this step-by-step guide.
What to Wear
As in any presentation, you want to be professional yet comfortable enough that you can focus on your material without being distracted by your ensemble. Dressing for Zoom isn’t a science; however, be aware that you are only seen from the chest up, so don’t overdo it with your makeup or jewelry. Here are some other pointers:
- Avoid black. It doesn’t draw people in and will look darker on camera.
- Nothing too bright. Jewel tones and soft colors work best.
- Wear a flattering neckline without being revealing.
- Keep makeup and hair simple, as you are not speaking to a large room and everyone will see a close-up of your face.
What Materials to Prepare
Staring at a screen can get monotonous after a while, so you definitely want to provide some visual aids. However, keep in mind that when you are on Zoom, these materials are presented differently. Your audience will be able to view either you or your visual aids, so you don’t want to duplicate everything you are saying on the slides. To keep your presentation visually appealing, think about showing some of the following:
- Important charts, graphs, and illustrations
- Key numbers and performance indicators
- Action items or timelines that you are referencing
Keep your attendees interested and focused on what you’re saying and involved in your presentation. Introduce yourself and briefly discuss the topics you are going to cover. Let everyone know they can ask questions in the chatbox, and if it is very important or they need quick clarification they can use the use the raise hand feature.
Instead of making your attendees watch endless slide after slide, set a format for each section of your presentation. Start with yourself on camera and then present the supporting information via screen share toward the end of each section. Next, take questions from the chat regarding that section before you move on to the next segment.
How to Communicate Effectively
It is hard to be an effective communicator and present material virtually. Typically when you are talking with someone face to face you can read the room, adjust your tone or speed based on nonverbal cues, and use feedback to help calm your nerves and get into a groove with your delivery. However, all of these key points are far more difficult to execute via Zoom. Use these tips as a guideline to present a powerful Zoom presentation:
- Monitor your speed. Keep a lively pace. Speak slowly enough for everyone to grasp your material but fast enough to keep everyone’s attention.
- Maintain a pleasant and upbeat tone. Your screen isn’t a lecture hall, although it may feel like one at times. Smile when you can and try to be energetic; it will come through to your attendees.
- Pause instead of saying “um.” If you lose your train of thought, don’t panic. Simply take a moment to collect yourself instead of using filler words that may make you sound unprepared.
- Address questions thoughtfully. Anticipate questions before your presentation so you can have an idea of how to answer them when they arise. Before responding to a question, take a few seconds to think about your answer. This way, you can be concise and to the point.
The skills you learn when giving a Zoom presentation will only add to your communication skills when you resume in-person meetings. Like anything else, your Zoom skills will only improve with practice. Be confident and know that you’ve got this!