Although the recent shift from in-person to online meetings and conferences has been an effective means for social distancing, it has posed a challenge for participation and engagement. Virtual audiences can lose interest, listen half-heartedly, or tune out entirely if they’re not actively engaged. To ensure audience members are benefitting from and contributing to meetings and presentations, healthcare leaders can refine their presentation methods for the virtual realm.
Virtual Presentation Tips
Create interest. Welcome your audience and introduce yourself. Then, as you briefly mention your credentials and background, focus on how your experience and perspective can be useful to your audience. Draw your audience members in by hinting at how your information will improve their work or their lives.
Engage with your audience. If appropriate, use humor to break the ice. While it can be odd not to receive laughter in response, know that your audience will appreciate some light-heartedness considering the situation. To make eye contact when presenting virtually, look directly at the camera rather than at the screen as you speak. Avoid looking down at your camera. Set it slightly above or at eye level. Try to emote and use inflection as you address your audience. Let your audience know whether you’d like them to interject with questions or to save them until after the presentation. Tell them how they can submit questions on the video conferencing platform.
Employ eye-catching visuals. Use large fonts, infographics, bullet points, colorful images, and short videos in your presentation. Avoid putting the entire text of the presentation on slides. If you want your attendees to have information they can later access electronically, create both a presentation slide show and an informational slide show. Use basic information and visuals in your presentation slide show. Save the detailed content for the informational slide show. Alternatively, put detailed information in the notes section of your presentation.
Consider your setting. Make sure your lighting, audio, and video are functioning well and test them in advance. Use a professional setting such as a home office or virtual background. Try not to sit too close or too far from the screen. Ideally, your head and shoulders should be in frame, and if you tend to use your hands as you talk, they should be in view as well.
Eliminate distractions. If you will be sharing your screen, close all unnecessary tabs and turn off pop-up notifications, including email and calendar notices. Silence your cell phone and any other devices that might chime or ring. Ensure pets or people won’t interrupt your presentation. And have a backup plan for technology issues: what will you do if your presentation won’t open, if you have a weak signal, or if your viewers can’t hear you?
Keep it segmented and short. Try to keep your presentation brief and succinct. If you will be speaking for an extended period of time, however, break your presentation into shorter segments. Switch from directly addressing your audience on camera to introducing a prerecorded video to showing images such as charts, graphs, or infographics. If possible, alternate between presenters or use a conversational panel format (but don’t forget to include your audience, inviting them to submit questions or comments).
Thank your audience. Let your viewers know you appreciate their time and engagement. Close by inviting them to send you feedback or connect with you if they have additional questions. Perhaps even send them off with a call to action.
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