Your feedback from last week’s blog strongly suggested there’s an appetite for a second helping of how to become a better video presenter. What follows is an organized hodgepodge (I think that’s an oxymoron?) of recommendations for better video presentations. I’ve divided them into a before, during and after format to make them easier to digest. Let’s dig in while it’s still hot!
Testing, testing, testing.
Up until a month or so ago, the words “testing, testing, testing” were synonymous with insuring that sound was properly amplified through a microphone. Today, these words are more commonly known as the first step to combating the coronavirus but for our purposes, they are the most impactful action you can take prior to your video presentation. Specifically, be careful to ensure that your camera and video are functioning properly. Also, make sure that you’re familiar with all the technological features you’ve incorporated into your presentation. Anticipate any hiccups that your participants could likely encounter and have a remedy in your back pocket.
Dance with the one who brought you.
For some inexplicable reason, in the middle of their presentations, many novice video presenters ask themselves the question, “Hey, I wonder what this button does?” This should go without saying but, unless you’re a scientist, it’s never a good idea to experiment when you’re conducting a presentation with a client or prospect. If, in the midst of your presentation, you happen to find yourself intrigued by some shiny feature, discipline yourself to revisit it later. To borrow a phrase from my college football coach, there’s plenty that can go wrong without your help.
Slides that serve as a guide.
Just like in-person presentations, be sure that your slides are within the margins, spelled correctly and are simple and uniform in color. In addition to reinforcing your content, think of your slides as a guide, similar to a signpost that helps to direct your audience through the learning experience. Include a slide near the beginning of your presentation that lays out the learning path and, as you cover specific sections of your content, add a summary slide to recap and reinforce what your audience just learned. Lastly, don’t forget to print a paper copy of your slides. This will come in handy if you run into a technical glitch or if you need to discretely look ahead to remind yourself what’s next.
Greet them there; don’t meet them there.
Plain and simple, show up early. Why wouldn’t you be the first person to arrive to your presentation? Assuming you have a ritual to help you focus before speaking in-person, you should practice it in the exact same manner when you present on video. Take the time just before the participants arrive to get into your “zone.” When appropriate, I double-check my audio and video connections with the first few people who log on. This is also a good time to hit “Record.”
Be a tour guide.
Returning to the notion of your need to establish a learning path and guide your audience through the experience, remember that you must pull double duty as tour guide during video presentations. In addition to helping your audience navigate your content, you also have to help them maneuver through a video platform with which they may not be familiar. One of the best things you can do to assist in this effort is to develop the habit of using directional voice prompts to clearly signal what you want your audience to do. For example, you may say something like, “if you look at the lower left corner of your screen, you should see an icon that looks like a microphone. What I want you to do is…”
Stick to the script.
Maintaining flow is critical to grabbing and holding audience attention during video presentations. Veering off-course from your predetermined agenda opens you up to loss of flow and, consequently, losing your audience’s attention. I’m not suggesting that you don’t allow for discussion and spontaneity— just plan for it. During in-person presentations, we have the luxury of using gestures and body language (like a death stare) to subtly signal to our audience that we need to get back on track. Those physical gestures don’t translate as well over video so you need to be intentional about the amount of control you cede to your audience.
After action review
After every presentation, you should critically evaluate your performance for three types of feedback. First is your gut feeling about how well things went, compared to your expectations. Second is participant feedback; create a poll or survey to find out how those who experienced it rate you in the areas of content, delivery and real-world applicability. Finally, solicit the help of a trained professional to audit your presentation. Some of the most positive, transformative ideas in my presentations came compliments of my professional colleagues. The key here is getting feedback from someone who is qualified. Last but not least, follow your presentation with an offer to keep your audience engaged beyond the presentation.
In the end, whether you’re presenting in-person or on video, confidence and clarity rule the day and, just like anything else, the more you do it, the better you’ll get.
Dez Thornton is a communications coach who helps you say the right words in the right way when they matter most! For more information, see www.dezthornton.com.