Welcome to the 21st Century! In the past, we always stood in front of real, live people when we gave a presentation and we all knew how to do that. Now everything seems to have changed and with the arrival of both powerful laptops and high-speed Internet connections, we are now being asked to conduct virtual presentations where there is no audience. What’s a speaker to do?
Understand Your Technology
The very first thing that you need to understand about giving presentations in the new virtual world is that the technology that you choose to use is going to be very important. There are a number of leading firms in this area such as WebEx and GoToMeeting as well as many others.
What you need to realize is that the software and the Internet connection that you’ll be using need to be configured in order to work properly. This is something that you are going to need to take the time to properly understand before your presentation starts.
The last thing in the world that you are going to want to have happen is for you to be ready to start and to have the technology that you’ll be using not be ready. Instead, I recommend that on the day of your presentation you always do a “test run” with a friend or colleague. Have them sign in to your presentation and run through the first few minutes of what you are going to say in order to confirm that they can both see and hear you correctly.
Provide Your Audience With Value
One of the biggest challenges that you are going to run into when you are giving a presentation is that your audience can be easily distracted. Despite the importance of public speaking, they don’t have to pay attention to you!
While you are speaking, they will be sitting in front of their computer. This means that they are just one click away from Facebook, Twitter, Angry Birds, and catching up on their emails. You are going to have to find a way to overcome these distractions.
The best way to hold on to your audience’s attention is to create and deliver a speech that is filled with great content. If you really understand your audience and you know what they want to both learn and understand, then you’ll be able to create a speech that they are going to want to listen to from start to finish.
Structure Your Speech For Success
In a traditional speech, your audience would show up, sit down, and then spend the time during your speech staring at you. However, during a virtual online presentation they are simply going to be sitting in front of their computer or cell phone. This means that you are going to have to restructure your speech to deal with this new reality.
Make sure that you open your speech with something that will capture your audience’s attention. Skip the long winded introduction of yourself or why you are so very important. Make sure that you provide your audience with an agenda for your speech – let them know what you’ll be talking about and why it’s important.
You are going to have to minimize what is in your speech. The experts recommend having no more than between 3-5 main points in your speech – anymore and it will be too much for your audience to remember. When your speech is over, take the time to wrap things up. Provide your audience with a conclusion and a clear message that they won’t soon forget.
What All Of This Means For You
The future has arrived and we are living in it right now. What this means for speakers is that more and more often we are going to be asked to deliver virtual presentations in which there is no live audience sitting in front of us. We need to understand how we have to adjust our speaking style to deal with this new reality so that our audience will still get the benefits of public speaking from us.
The technology that we use to deliver our virtual presentations is complex. We need to take the time to understand it fully before the presentation starts. The speech that we deliver must contain a great deal of value for our audience so that we hold their attention. Finally, the way that we structure our speech will allow us to grab our audience’s attention from the start and hold it throughout our speech.
The good news is that the arrival of virtual presentation technology will allow us to reach far more people with our message than we ever could before. However, we need to take the time to restructure our speeches so that we can use virtual presentations to change the lives of our audiences.
Question For You: What do you think is the best way to keep an audience’s attention during a virtual presentation?
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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
I’m sure that we’d all like to be a strong, confident speaker. The big question that we all face is just exactly how can we go about getting from where we are today to becoming the strong speaker that we’d all like to become? Nope, there’s no magic pill that will make this happen; however, there are a few skills that if we take the time to practice will serve to make us much stronger speakers.