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12 virtual presentation tips you probably haven’t heard of

It’s been almost a year and a half since we unknowingly packed our desk up for a spot of homeworking. Since then, we have wrestled with the tech, discovered some huge business advantages, but began to miss the ‘water cooler moments.’ One thing is for sure, ‘Microsoft Teams / Zoom fatigue’ is real.

Research by Harvard Business school found that although our meetings are shorter, employees now have more meetings. Otter Ai notes that middle managers spend 35 percent of their time in meetings, and 92 percent of employees they asked said they multitask during meetings. On average, UK and USA professionals lose around four days per month, thanks to ineffective meetings.

Microsoft Teams has introduced settings that recommend meeting breaks, and astute managers are reducing the number of meetings in favour of ‘quiet days.’ However, how about when we need to present? How do we delight viewers and keep them from checking their emails?

We have put together some top tips to help you and your audience enjoy a virtual presentation.

Don’t worry. We won’t be asking you to ‘check the tech’ and blur your background; that’s yesterday’s news. Instead, we will take you through some new techniques and encourage you to ask yourself what you could do differently?

Nobody wants their approach to feel dated, employers are looking for authentic, creative, changemakers and you can stand out by adopting a few of these tips

Get to know your video conferencing tool

Whether you’re using Microsoft Teams, Zoom or another platform, try to remain up to date with the latest features. For example, Microsoft Teams has just launched Presenter mode, which superimposes your video onto your presentation. Showcasing new techniques like this will help you win the hearts and minds of audiences.

Surprise people with new PowerPoint features

PowerPoint is fast becoming one of the most intuitive Microsoft programmes. But have you tried their screen recording feature, the zoom-in facility, the section breaks and or the break timer? Check out this video from one of the education team at Microsoft.

Cut your content in half                                                                                    Gone are the days of a fifty slide PowerPoint, or at least they should be. Ten slides in around twenty minutes is the sweet spot. You should not explore more than one idea per slide, and your font size should not go below 24 points.

Ditch the bullets

We’ve all been told never to read from a slide; now, presentation coaches are telling us to steer clear of bullets. Instead, replace most of your sentences with images and keywords. Again, you are leading the presentation; you want people to be listening, not reading.

Name-drop and storytell

Storytelling is key to an authentic delivery. Think about how much comedians’ reference real-life situations and how this resonates with us. Good storytellers will set the scene and introduce you to the characters.

Avoid death by data                                                                                                  You might have a mind-blowing graph; however, ask yourself, is it too much to digest? Simple diagrams are the most effective such as pie charts. Make sure you source stats and avoid referencing old data.

Rehearse                                                                                                                You can now rehearse your slide show with PowerPoint’s Coach feature. It notices when you’re reading from the slide, checks the speed at which you talk, picks up on non-inclusive language and much more.

Open in style                                                                                                              Don’t begin with tokens slides about you and the history of your company. Instead, conduct a powerful opening about the problems you’re here to solve and include teasers about what’s coming up.

Build rapport                                                                                                              Win the audience over from the very beginning by engaging in conversation and telling a story. Research your listeners beforehand, so you know any key players and what might be a good topic of discussion. You can use humour or even what’s happening in the news right now to focus their attention.

Push for participation                                                                                    Presentations are much more conversational these days; try to engage the audience at least twice during a 20-minute presentation. Think polls, QR codes or emojis.

End it on a high                                                                                                Summarise your key takeaways; what big idea are you leaving them with? Why not include some alliteration so it will stick in their minds.

Give them even more

Include all the extra info you didn’t have enough word count for in a helpful PDF.

‘Next slide please’ will be unimaginable as more of us adopt motion controllers. Immersive tech such as holograms could also have us on the edge of our seats, but for now, you can dial up the excitement during your next virtual presentation by implementing several of our recommendations, good luck.

If you're a female IT leader looking for tips on aspects such as presenting and negotiation, join us at our next webinar.

Crimson is an IT consultancy, an IT solutions provider, an IT recruitment agency, and a Microsoft Gold Partner operating across the UK.