Acing video presentations

Delivering presentations

July 27, 2022

Conference rooms are out. Telework is here to stay.

In a post-pandemic world, we’ve all had to adjust and get acquainted with virtual ways to connect. Virtual presentations and communications have become vital tools in the workplace to engage employees and keep business moving.

Telework remains a growing trend, with 4.7 million people working remotely in the U,S. at least half of the time. So, virtual presentations may likely become a new normal in your workflow

We know that video presentations can be challenging. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help relieve some of that “Zoom fatigue” you're feeling with tips and teachings you can use to take your virtual presentations to the next level.

Let’s dive in ⬇️

Table of contents:

Coming Soon.

Five tips to ace virtual presentations

There are so many good things about video meetings. They’re a great way to connect people across distances and time zones, they can be held wherever you can find a good Wifi connection, and they can be a far more efficient use of time compared to traditional, in-person meetings.

But nothing is perfect. And video conferencing does come with some challenges. Especially ones that are often out of our control like outside noises, spotty Wi-Fi connections, or children barging in while you’re being interviewed by BBC News.

To help you prep for the inevitable, we’ve compiled 5 tips you can easily equip to present your best and ace your next virtual presentation.

  1. Avoid busy prints and patterns
    Patterns like plaid or stripes can appear dizzying or distracting on screen, so you’ll want to stick to solid colors to help your message stand out.
  2. Light up your face
    If possible, sit facing a window for the best light. Or you can place a lamp directly in front of you for even, steady lighting. Avoid sitting with a window or light source behind you because it will turn you into a silhouette.
  1. Keep the focus on you
    Keep your backgrounds plain and simple, like a blank wall or a single piece of art hanging. Busy wallpaper, too much decor, and bookshelves filled with trinkets can be too distracting and will take the focus from you.

  2. Give the camera some space
    Getting too close to the camera can distort your image and widen the appearance of your face. If you’re getting closer to your camera because you can’t hear others, consider using headphones to help you maintain that space.
  1. Position yourself at eye level
    Make sure you can maintain eye-to-eye contact with your webcam because no one wants to look up your nose! Also, avoid placing the camera too high above you so you’re not uncomfortable constantly having to lift your head.

Four adjustments for virtual presentations

Let’s face it—video calls are draining and “Zoom fatigue” is the real deal. As teleconferencing continues to be a part of our daily worklife, we need to adjust how we operate online meetings to help keep everyone sane.

Here are 4 easy tweaks you can make to survive and thrive in video meetings.

  1. ⏳ Keep it brief. Because of the countless challenges that can come up in video calls—technical issues, noisy housemates, unforeseeable distractions—you need to ask your core question or present your main goals at the start so time can be used wisely to find solutions.

  2. 👁 Be visual. Bulleted lists can be too busy for video presentations, so opt for images, infographics, charts, and fewer words if you’re preparing a slideshow to share.

  3. 🗣 Engage your audience. You’re fighting to keep people’s focus from other screens and distractions around them, so use engaging prompts to keep your audience listening in. Some video conferencing platforms offer tools to host polls or create breakout groups, but something as simple as an icebreaker question can be an effortless way to start a conversation.

  4. 🎭 Emote more. Our emotions are harder to communicate on video, so you’ll want to exaggerate your actions just a bit more to ensure they’re captured on screen. This can be done by smiling or nodding to show you’re listening and engaged.

Use these adjustments to energize your next video meeting and keep your audience focused on you!

Expert Corner: Peter Cappelli’s thoughts on remote working

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Peter Cappelli is the George W. Taylor Professor of Management at The Wharton School and Director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources. He was recently named by HR Magazine as one of the top 5 most influential management thinkers and is a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal and HR Executive magazine.

In a post-pandemic workplace, Cappelli shares his findings on what works best for remote communications and managing teams across screens.

Check in with your employees

Cappelli notes that checking in with frequent video calls is a must in a virtual workplace.

“You’ve got to get on Zoom and you’ve got to see the folks,” says Cappelli. “And you’ve got to do this every day, or every two days.”

He also shares that making personal connections are necessary to employee engagement. These simple moments to talk about each other’s lives were especially vital during the pandemic.

“We understand what you’re doing. We’re doing the same thing, trying to wrestle with our kids and homeschooling, and two careers in the same household,” says Cappelli. “And that made a big difference to people.”

Theory X and Theory Y

To explain what motivates people to work, Cappelli references two contrasting theories, developed by social psychologist Douglas McGregor, called Theory X and Theory Y. These theories explain two fundamental management styles and what managers believe motivates people to work.

Theory X is viewed as the “carrot-and-stick” where managers believe employees dislike working and need incentives (money) to do so. This theory takes a more pessimistic view of people and assumes they are naturally unmotivated.

Theory Y is a more optimistic management style that favors collaboration and trust between managers and employees. This management style assumes that people take ownership of their work and find fulfillment in working and being part of a team.

“Under the right circumstances, [employees] might actually want to work and they might actually like what they’re doing,” says Cappelli. “If you can create the right circumstances for them, you don’t have to monitor them, you don’t have to threaten to punish them, you don’t have to dangle big carrots in front of them.”

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Where these theories work

The Theory X management style is better suited for jobs that are often repetitive, highly defined, and highly interdependent on others (like workers who are part of an assembly line). You’ll want to offer enticing incentives to help keep employees motivated in their roles.

Theory Y is optimal for collaborative workplaces, especially in remote settings, because it is built up of three traits:

  • Quality circles because employees are empowered to take responsibility for the quality of their work.
  • Lean production because employees are responsible for their own productivity and how to improve it.
  • Agile because teams are collaborative in nature and empowered to learn and do everything.

Telework is changing how we work and communicate, so this is your chance to get ahead! Lead your next virtual meeting with ease by bringing these tips and teachings into your next online presentation.

Want to face your fear of public speaking? We've got you covered in this Prezent guide.