A Guide to Mastering Virtual Presentations

a guide on mastering virtual presentations

Virtual presentations are becoming a standard. With over 30+ billion presentations being created every day, traditional in-person presentations, which used to be the commonality, are more and more being adapted to a more frequent online presentation scenario. 

Through the recent pandemic, the video conferencing platform, Zoom, had a participant increase of 2900% with a daily meeting participant figure of 350 million people in December 2020 alone. Yet, either triggered by the lack of human interaction or technological barriers, the truth is that online presentations can still and easily feel daunting.

That doesn’t need to be the case, however! With online presentation templates for a solid base and specific tactics to keep remote audiences engaged, presenters can easily connect with people in a virtual setting for great presentation success. 

This guide to virtual presentations provides a definition of virtual presentations, common examples, and instructions on how to best present online. 

What’s a virtual presentation?

A virtual presentation is an event whereby a presenter or a group of people face an audience online to go over virtual material of common interest. In the best of scenarios, a great rendition of an online presentation is clear, meeting a specific purpose that is of its audience’s interest. 

Examples of virtual presentations

At SlideModel, each of our PowerPoint templates sets a valuable example of the kind of virtual presentation that works best for very particular settings. These go over topics in business, strategy, marketing, and SWOT Analysis templates, to name a few. There are also different themes to these on diverse virtual presentation templates; the latest to suit numerous needs. 

browser showing a presentation template by SlideModel.com
PowerPoint presentation template by SlideModel.com

As further examples of great online presentations, here’s a Notion at Work webinar titled Manage Your Contacts and Sales Funnel. It’s highly recommended by webinar software company LiveWebinar. This presentation’s style and setup might be of special interest to business presenters as it follows regular industry standards. 

How virtual presentations happen

Virtual presentations most commonly take place via web and/or video conferencing platforms. Though numerous tools exist to allow a presenter to meet an audience exclusively online, the most famous for this purpose are currently Zoom, as we described above, as much as Google Meet, and Skype. 

An user taking part of a virtual conference
Users interacting in a virtual conference

In general, these platforms include a screen-sharing ability to let presenters display online presentation decks. And they’ve become a great go-to resource with an augmented work-from-home (WFH) model worldwide. 

Presentation types

Internal virtual presentations (between colleagues)

We give these kinds of presentations to people within our organization. Whether it’s for the same department or team as ours or another stakeholder within our company, college, or any sort of official body with which we interact, internal presentations serve people whose interests and needs we can access first-hand via a common ground. 

Events (conferences, discussion panels, TED talks)

More public than the first item, virtual presentations can also be part of large events, whether these are public or private. Take all sorts of online conferences or talks into account. We can go online to meet worldwide communities of diverse sorts and be invited to speak at a discussion panel or conference, for example, making our presence visible to multiple computer users or over a single live broadcast on a large screen in an auditorium, for instance. 

Sales presentations with prospects

At times, pitches need to happen on-screen with potential prospects who give us a certain allotted timeframe in their schedules for us to touch base on our product or offer. Virtual sales pitch is another method to use.

Training/educational presentations

Other virtual presentations can be delivered for training purposes. Those can happen for internal and even external teams or as part of an educational program at different institutions. When we’re seeking to build talent up with new skills, our presentations require a lot of clarity with specific instructions, workflows, examples, charts, videos, and as many interactive or information-specific tools as possible. 

But how do we present online events like the above? 

How to Prepare for Virtual Presentations

Here are a few tips on how to best prepare for virtual presentations. We’ve made sure to include these steps as being well-prepared for an online meeting can significantly improve your road to success.

Research

As usual, do your research before putting a single slide together. Reading up on what you will talk about to an audience can set an enormous difference between the knowledge you bring to a presentation and that of anyone else in the same room with you. Chances are that people listening to you as a presenter are very invested in your topic. As such, they can come from diverse backgrounds, and truly have a natural interest in what you have to say. Be valuable to your audience with high-quality content. For that, seek what interests them, how they respond to similar material, and the best ways in which you can engage them. 

Putting material together

Then, work at designing great PowerPoint slides. Keep a balance between design and content, tailoring what you present with your branding or voice in competitive, slick design that also clearly exposes your expertise. 

computer showing a slide with a pie chart
The creation process of a pie chart

Consider your audience’s attention spans here. For that, spread content throughout several slides, if possible. Instead of packing each slide full of text or images, fill them with catchy titles, relevant sub-titles, meaningful text, and attention-grabbing visuals. Doing so will add dynamism and generate a more frequent visual change viewers are bound to appreciate. 

Add the above visual flow especially if your audience will need to spend a long time on-screen to follow you. Quicker online presentations can, on the contrary, afford concise and to-the-point material over the shortest amount of slides you can muster.  

Preparing your script

You may have all the know-how in the world on a given topic, company, subject of study, a product, or whatever is getting you to a virtual presentation need. Yet, an outline of ideas, a sequence of thoughts, and the most important areas of your presentation are all valuable tools to ensure success as you present. 

Write your thoughts out. Think of the sentences you’re verbalizing, how you’re phrasing your communications, and the order in which these will be presented. Slides don’t make up for your verbal communication. That vocal area needs preparation, too. 

Write an outline, jot down pointers, and even prepare an essay, if you must. However you feel most comfortable, a script in any form is necessary for a clear rendition of your ideas in front of an audience, whether that happens virtually or in person. 

While you’re at it, include attention-grabbers as you prepare what you’ll say. These can be as easy as saying: “Look over to our graph at the bottom right”, for example, inviting people to actually connect to what you’re presenting. These tricks are especially needed during a virtual presentation given the potential audiences have to be distracted via so many other means that are available on their computer, tablet, or cellphone. 

Practicing in front of an audience

Quite succinctly, peer feedback can do wonders for your virtual presentations. Gather whoever will connect with you to get their valuable insight on what’s coming through from your efforts. 

Sit back without judgment to listen to what business partners, friends, and even family have to say about your work.

Recording a demo

Tied to above, record that session. You can use it as your demo. 

Pushing you to be fully ready for a practice run will ensure you have thought about everything that matters for your final presentation. It will also add a level of security that can give you a more successful edge in the end. 

This practice might sound tedious, but it can also help your team, for example, if you bring people on board to your demo before you launch a product, face a client, present before a different department, face your teacher, and so much more!

Checking your online tools

Because online presentations essentially depend on technological tools, much more so than in any other kind of presentation setting, take the time to check everything works before you get started. 

Check your invitation links, log in to your meeting platform, open up relevant files, click on the presentation sharing icon, and make sure you’ve got all the privileges you need to perform any action you intend on making. Test your audio, try your mic and speakers, and hit the record button as a trial…do it all!

A demo, practice, and even setting 30 minutes ahead of your presentation can be golden for you to troubleshoot any unexpected technological failures. Go through your required steps one by one to make sure everything works!

Presenters are muted quite commonly and cannot get their volume to function, their cameras have stopped working, or they simply can’t share their screen. While no one will generally count that against anyone if the delays aren’t meaningful, this kind of setback can easily signal a lack of preparation. Because many issues can get in the way of a successful and timely virtual meeting, prepare for those challenges ahead of time. 

Concentration

Once your checklist up to here is done, remember to take some time for yourself. Seek your focus. However you concentrate best, find that mental spot where you can truly be attuned to your thoughts and the way you speak. Release any heavy emotions, such as anger, fear, anxiety, or stress. And seek to be balanced within your own self. Even three deep breaths can do the trick if time is pressing, but never forget to start presenting until you’re at your best concentration level. 

Putting yourself out there

Then go for it! Hit that record or live button, let people in your waiting room into your meeting area, say hi to anyone present, or let people know if you’re expecting anyone or waiting for someone for a few minutes. Become the host and take over as a leader, which is ultimately what presentations are about; for a specific period, all attention will be on you. Take your space, put yourself out there, and do your best. 

Establishing conversation

Virtual presentations don’t end when you’re done presenting your slides. Whenever possible, open up the space for the audience to give you feedback, ask questions, and engage in conversation with you. You can include a question and answer (Q&A) session or display frequently asked questions as a means of addressing commonly unclear areas. Also, leave room to address whatever comments come up via chat. 

By the way, just as a pointer to get your next presentation rolling, set the stage at the beginning of your online presentation in terms of when and how you’d like your audience to ask questions. Will everyone be able to stop you as you’re presenting to clear any items that come up? Or would you rather leave all questions for last? 

Commonly, addressing questions via chat or at the end of the session keeps your attendees’ focus under better control. Remember you’re directing people’s attention every time you present. This works just like a maestro would command an orchestra. Make the best of your expertise and knowledge to wow your audience with a unique presentation that gets people talking. 

Conclusions

Virtual meetings aren’t going anywhere. If anything, the use of online tools to group on a given topic is more and more common. As work-from-home leniency becomes widespread after COVID-19, especially, we can heavily rely on virtual presentations being here to stay. 

Consider using templates to help your slide quality. Templates are a great base for design as much as content. With industry or topic-specific material, templates are a great guide that can also accelerate how you create and share content in a high-paced environment. 

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