Speakers Learn How To Deal With The Challenge Of Remote Presentations

Keeping your remote audience engaged can be a real challenge
Keeping your remote audience engaged can be a real challenge
Image Credit: Gaetan Maerten

The world that we live in continues to change all around us. As speakers, what this means is that more and more often when we are asked to deliver a speech there is a good chance that our audience may not be sitting in front of us. Instead, they may be remotely located. When we find ourselves in this kind of situation, because of the importance of public speaking, we need to adjust how we deliver our speech in order to make sure that we are able to keep our audience engaged. How to make this happen is the secret that every presenter needs to discover.

Where You Look Matters

When we deliver a speech remotely, we don’t have an audience sitting in front of us. Instead, what we have more often than not is a camera facing us and our audience is located at one or multiple locations either watching us on a big screen or on individual computer monitors. What this means for you is that your interaction is not going to be directly with your audience, it’s going to be with your camera. When you are talking you are going to need to look directly into the camera as much as you can. You don’t want to be looking down at your notes or at a monitor that shows how you look. You need to stare into the camera so that you are looking directly at your audience and you use this as an opportunity to connect with them.

Notes Location Matters

Since you are speaking remotely, where you are looking becomes a critical part of your speech. Your audience will be watching you and if they don’t see you looking at them, then they will quickly start to lost interest in what you are talking about. What this means for you is that you want to keep looking into the camera as much as you can. What can take away from your camera time is any time that you spend looking at your notes. What you are going to want to do is to position your notes as close to your camera as possible so that when you are looking at them, it looks like you are looking into the camera.

It’s All About Your Face

If you are going to be giving a remote presentation, I sure hope that you like looking at yourself! What we need to understand about these remote presentations is that we can’t really have the camera take in our entire body. The reason for this is that we will appear to be too small if we set our camera up this way. Instead, your presentation has to be all about your face. You are going to want to adjust your camera so that your face fills most of the screen. You really don’t want to include any of your surroundings in the picture that you are sending to your audience. You’ll also want to be very careful about your lighting – make sure that you don’t have any bright sunlight behind you or else you’ll come across as being too dark.

Test, Test, Test

As speakers we are always being told that we need to practice our next speech. We know that this is a good idea because it allows us to discover any problems with our speech early on and gives us a chance to work them out before we are called on to deliver a speech. It turns out that when we are giving a remote presentation there is one more step involved in our practice: we need to test our technology. You want to make sure that your audio and video equipment is going to work correctly for you long before your presentation starts. One of the most important things that you need to master is exactly how to go about muting and unmuting yourself during your presentation.

You Are Always “On”

I would almost hope that I didn’t have to bring this point up, but all too often I hear stories about speakers who for some reason forgot this final rule of remote presenting. When you show up for your remote presentation (even if you are at home), you need to assume that the information that will be transmitting your image and your voice is always on. You need to act as though you are always “live” and make sure that what you are saying is something that you would want your audience to hear.

What All Of This Means For You

In these high-tech times that we are living in, when we are asked to deliver a presentation there is often a good chance these days that we’ll be giving it remotely. Since our audience will not be in front of us, this changes how we will be delivering our content in order to provide them with the benefits of public speaking. We need to understand that this kind of speech is different and so we need to make adjustments to our presentation technique in order to make sure that we will be able to hold the attention of our remote audience.

When we are giving a remote presentation, make sure that you look directly into the camera. Since your audience is not with you, this will be your best chance to connect with them. If you are going to be using notes to give your speech, make sure that you place your notes as close to the camera as possible. This will allow you to keep your eyes on the camera even as you are reading your notes. Make sure that you adjust your camera so that your face fills the screen since that is what your audience will be seeing. Before your presentation starts, make sure to test your technology and make sure that you know how to mute yourself. Always remember that when you are near your presentation equipment, you are “live”.

Making remote presentations is quickly becoming the new normal. As speakers we need to realize this and adjust our speaking style. We need to understand that the challenge of keeping our audience’s attention, which has always been hard, has just become that much harder. We need to think about how we will appear to our remote audience and then we need to make sure that our presentation techniques will allow us to connect with them remotely and cause them to pay attention to what we are telling them.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How do you think that you could measure if your remote audience is paying attention to your speech?

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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

As speakers, we know that if we want to give a good speech we need to take the time to prepare for it. This means that we need to create a theme for our speech, we need to create a great opening, work in some physical gestures, and include the proper amount of vocal variety. However, even after doing all of that, we might not be successful. It turns out that your audience will be forming an impression of you within the first 12 seconds of seeing you. Even worse, they probably won’t change their impression of you even after they know you for a bit. How can a speaker make a good first impression?