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How to develop an engaging virtual presentation

Presenting virtually is new to many of us, and, to do it well it requires a unique approach. 

Attention spans are short, so presenters need to focus on engaging the audience and make sure they leave having had a valuable experience. 

Even if you’re a seasoned in-person speaker, giving a pre-recorded talk requires a fresh perspective. To get you started, we’ve pulled together some quick tips to make sure you create an engaging virtual presentation. 

Think Critically and Get to the Point 

Before you do anything, take an objective and critical look at what you are about to present. You need to zero in on precisely what you want to say and how to get there quickly. 

Start by asking yourself the following questions. 

  • Why would someone care about this?
  • What will keep someone interested in this topic?
  • If someone only retained one idea from this presentation, what do I want it to be?
  • After I finish my presentation, what actions do I want my audience to be inspired to do?

Once you know the answers to those questions, break your topic into no more than three key points and a concise summary clearly stating what you want the audience to take away. 


Revaluate Your Slides 

Don’t just streamline your message; take a hard look at your slides. 

Slides are a valuable tool for relaying important details. In a virtual setting, slides give the audience’s brains a quick break and allows them to shift their energy, which facilitates the learning process. 

But — and this is important — the audience can either listen to you or read your slides; they can’t do both. 

So, make your slides count: 

  • Reduce the number of slides in your presentation.
  • Cut back the amount of text significantly. When text is needed, rely on bullet points and sentence fragments. 
  • Swap some of your text for images. Not only do many people retain more information in a visual format, but images break up the potential for monotony and audience distraction.
  • Make sure your slides are accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. Visit the accessibility section of the presenter hub for more information.  

*Only use visuals you own the rights to or have permission to use. 


Start Strong 

You only have an online audience’s full attention for the first few minutes so start strong by setting expectations for the learner experience. 

Kick off your presentation with a summary of what they can expect to take away from their time with you and highlight the learning objectives within this window before you delve into the heart of the presentation. 


Set the Scene to Keep Your Audience Engaged 

Use your on-screen presence to keep the audience’s attention and focus throughout the presentation. 

Three easy ways you can do this are:   

  1. Start with an upbeat but paced tone. Your energy matters and will be contagious.
  2. Similarly to when you present in-person, eye contact and body language are critical. Start the session by looking at the camera instead of the video of yourself or your slides. Doing this mimics eye contact and draws the viewer in. 
  3. Set the mood and demonstrate your confidence by sitting up straight and with your shoulders back and starting with a smile.

Hopefully these three hints will help you create a great virtual presentation that you find rewarding and that your audience finds valuable and engaging. 

Next, we recommend you check out our “Best Practices for Filming a Video.”

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