3 Keys to a Successful Virtual Presentation


Rob Biesenbach 

Virtual presentations have always been hard. Audiences are restless, distracted and can easily tune out since no one’s watching them. 

But doing a virtual presentation from home is even harder — both presenters and audiences are dealing with isolation, disruptions and limited technology. 

So if you want to make a real impact and achieve your goals (get your idea approved, rally your team around a goal, convince a customer to buy), now is the time to step up your virtual game. 

You can do that by focusing on three things: master your technology, make your content as clear and compelling as possible and deliver it in a way that’s truly engaging. Here are my top tips in each of these areas. 

Master Your Technology 

At home, you probably don’t enjoy the level of technology you’re accustomed to in the workplace. Here’s how to upgrade your audio and visual quality. 

  • Your home Wi-Fi probably won’t cut it; get an extra-long Ethernet cable and plug directly into your router.
  • Use your webcam so that you’re more than an impersonal, disembodied voice.
  • Get light on your face. Use every lamp in the house if you have to.
  • Elevate your screen; nobody wants to look up your nose.
  • Like taking a selfie, you want to look at the lens, not the screen, when speaking.
  • Don’t neglect the audio. “Phone” a friend and test out your options (computer microphone, cell phone, headset, earbuds, etc.).

Streamline Your Content 

Don’t overload them with too many messages and too much information. Keep it simple. 

  • Shorter is safer. Cut the fat and put it in handouts or follow-ups.
  • Focus on a single goal and ensure every bit of content is aimed at achieving that goal. What do you want them to think or do differently?
  • Data dumps are deadly. Prioritize narrative and the big picture over granular detail.
  • Logic alone won’t win the day. Find the emotional core of your message. Are you appealing to pride, ego, loyalty, security, fear?
  • Ditch the Death by PowerPoint. You want them watching and listening to you, not reading words on the screen.
  • Attention spans wane quickly, so change things up every 10 minutes with a new topic, a video, a story or example.

Deliver With Impact 

It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. 

  • Prepare and practice — know your content backward and forward so you can deliver it fluidly. Fluidity conveys authority.
  • This is no time for professional detachment. Deliver your ideas with passion and conviction; if you’re not excited, why should they be?
  • Bring the energy: speak up, lean forward, be expansive in gesture and expression.
  • Avoid “dead air” and beware of tangents. Keep a steady, deliberate pace and eliminate excessive stops and starts and side trips.
  • Get them involved early and often. Take a poll, answer questions, ask them questions, do an exercise or role play, and call on people to contribute.
  • Do your best to express warmth, sincerity and a bit of personality.

Everything on 11 

If you remember nothing else, bear in mind the essential lesson from the film “This is Spinal Tap:” put everything on “11.” That means more energy, focus, preparation, engagement, and visual excitement. 

Believe me, your audience will thank you. 

3 Keys to a Successful Virtual PresentationAbout the Author: Rob Biesenbach works with leaders who want to be more persuasive and authoritative in everything they do. That means breaking free from Death by PowerPoint, telling their story, and communicating like humans should. He’s an in-demand professional speaker and workshop leader, award-winning communication consultant and bestselling author. His clients have included AARP, Allstate, Coca-Cola and Deloitte, among other great organizations.

Leave a Comment