You’re bound to have seen them by now – the viral videos of the Zoom calls that have not exactly gone to plan. Catching your colleague with their trousers down has taken on a whole new (and sometimes too visual) meaning since so many of us have started home working via video link. Those who would rather have done anything than see themselves on video have had to accept that it is the way things are going to be for the unforeseeable future.
So now is a useful time to remind ourselves of some key presentation skills that help unlock a successful online meeting. Here’s my top five – of many!
Remain focused throughout on the purpose of the call - if you are not clear, then how will others be? Understanding the “why” of your presence will help you determine what you want to say; how you want to say it and who you need to connect with.
Plan for the call as if you were attending in person. Wear what you would wear if you were meeting in ‘real life’ – it helps your inner confidence and subliminal presentation. Make sure you match your bottom half with the top – you don’t want to be the person spotted wearing their PJ trousers when you have to stand up during the call! Take the time to make sure your workspace isn’t distracting to you or those watching you and that the light is behind the camera, not you. Ensure that cats, canaries and kids are as under control as possible. If you do suspect an interruption during the call, tell people at the start – it will make it easier to deal with if and when it happens and will keep your inner fears at bay.
Look after your posture – the secret to any successful delivery is breathing. By sitting (or even standing) tall, shoulders relaxed and body comfortable, it will not only help you look more assured, it will help you to feel and sound better. The breathing will also give the brain what it needs the most – oxygen. Focus your posture on ensuring you can look into your camera at eye level and let everything be led by that – even if it means building a book tower to perch your laptop on.
Pauses pack a powerful punch when presenting in person – don’t forget to use them when connecting online. They allow gaps for clarification, space for ideas to settle and time to make sure the technology is keeping up with you along with your audience.
Ultimately of course, practice makes perfect. We are social creatures who have been meeting in person for millennia – its only to be expected that we haven’t mastered the media meetings yet. But remember we are all the same, we all want to connect and we are willing each other to succeed. And think – for all of you out there who said you dreaded the idea of presenting in public, how much will we cherish being able to do so when the time comes. The skills you hone now will only help you in the future that is waiting for us.