One of the least expensive, most effective marketing tools available, is an engaging, persuasive presentation. Delivering kickass virtual presentations can win new clients, impress investors, galvanize a team and catapult your career.
But how do you keep your virtual presentations from boring listeners to tears or revealing all your fears? Public speaking consistently ranks as one of people’s top fears.
5 Ways to Shift Your Visual Presentations from Good to Great to Exceptional
Here are five things you can do to make sure your next virtual presentation is worthy of a standing ovation.
1. Understand Your Audience
No two people do not process information in the same way. We all have different communication styles and different learning styles. So how do you make sure your virtual presentations get through to your audience?
Before designing your speech, consider who you’ll be speaking to and ask yourself these questions:
- Age? Education? Level of seniority? Culture? Mindset?
- What do they already know? What more do they need to know? Are there certain expectations they may have? What are some biases? What will people with biases likely say? How can I address their biases within my speech?
You won’t know all the answers, but you can make an educated guess. Or you can ask a colleague their opinion; send a survey to the organizer, or use show of hands polling questions at the start of your presentation. “How many of you…?”
When you know people in your audience have recently been through a reorganization or have a bias against lawyers, you can get certain elephants out of the room early in your speech. This way they will be more likely to trust and listen to you.
2. Start with WHY
How many of you start preparing your virtual presentations by focusing on your content?
What you want to talk about is important BUT 80% of your presentation success starts with knowing your WHY. Why are you speaking? Why should they care?
Think about what you want your audience to know, think, feel, understand or do as a result of your speech? What’s the one point you want them to remember? In an hour, people will forget 40% of what you’ve said, so knowing your bottom line and repeating it often is key.
Starting with why will help you figure out what content is important to include and what you can leave out. AND starting with “why” can tame your fear. When you focus on what you have to give your audience, you spend less time worrying about how they might be judging you. Thus reducing your nerves.
3. Engage Emotion
95% of decision making takes place in the part of our brain ruled by emotion. We then use our logical brain to rationalize the choice our subconscious has made.
Whether they’re considering what kind of car to buy or which colleague’s idea to listen to, people make decisions based on how it makes them FEEL. Yet, so much content put into virtual presentations is data, statistics and facts – logical brain stuff. To create engaging presentations, weave in emotional hooks.
In an hour, people will forget 40% of what you’ve said, so knowing your bottom line and repeating it often is key.
One effective emotional hook is storytelling. Listening to a story uses almost every part of our brain, therefore making a deeper impact. Look for ways to create a story around your data. Use visuals to support your facts and statistics. Case studies, examples, hypothetical scenarios, your origin story, company mission, are all ways to engage your listener’s emotions.
Using metaphor or analogy is another way to engage emotion. Don’t feed sirloin steak to your audience without making sure it’s been tenderized. If you feed people tough, overcooked steak, no matter how much you paid for it, it’s going to be hard to digest. Find ways to “tenderize” your content so that it goes down easy and people are left satisfied and craving more.
4. Meet Them Where They Are
You are steeped in the lingo, uniqueness and importance of your business or project. Your listeners are not. It’s easy to forget that. We tend to assume our listeners have been on the same journey we have. We assume everyone is privy to all the information and brilliant hard work we’ve put in.
Though the value of your product, service or project makes perfect sense to you, it may not to your audience. When they just hear “These are my widgets and here’s how they’re made,” it’s hard for them to say, “Sure, sign me up.”
Your audience needs to know what’s in it for them.
It might be interesting to know the mechanics of how a wheel functions on a car and what it’s made of. But at the end of the day, I just want to know how dependable the car is and if I’m going to look like a boss lady driving it.
The biggest mistake presenters make is giving TMI – too much information. Distill your knowledge into bite-size, high-level, relatable concepts. If they need more, they will ask for it.
5. Mind Your Non-Verbals
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loud, I cannot hear what you say.”
Nonverbal communication accounts for 60-80% of communication’s effectiveness. That part of our mind that makes decisions based on emotion, gets most of its clues from body language and vocal tone.
Record yourself before any important presentation. Work with a coach or colleague to assess whether your voice has enough variety, emphasis and energy; whether your posture is powerful, your gestures effective and your facial expressions convey trust and confidence.
In the virtual world, busy or distracting backgrounds, bad lighting, voice distortion, flat monotonous vocal tone have even more of a negative impact on viewers than they do in-person.
If you’re presenting virtually, check your sound, lighting and background before you join. Increase your energy level and vocal variety. And make sure you’re centered in the video frame with enough of your torso in view so you’re not just a talking head.
Anybody can present, but to become someone who generates buzz and catapults your business to success, you need to stop presenting and start engaging.
Robyn Hatcher is a communication expert, Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner and “recovering” actor. She has worked for over a decade with leaders and teams in major Fortune 500 companies to find and fix their hidden communication glitches to improve productivity, relationships and the bottom line.
Robyn has been seen on Good Morning America, Better TV, numerous TV commercials and episodic TV shows and has been a guest on close to 50 podcasts. In 2019, she was named by Ewomen’s news as one of the 21 women of the 21st Century and she can fairly confidently say that she is the only woman in the world who’s been parodied by Halle Berry
Get the latest small business news, upcoming events, and more every week on Smart Hustle.