I think that we can all agree that we are now living in the 21st Century. The old school way of giving a speech required us to show up at a location, take the stage, and deliver a speech so that we could demonstrate the importance of public speaking. In our modern time, we no longer have to travel to a location in order to deliver a speech – we can do it virtually. However, with this new found flexibility comes the responsibility of knowing what it takes to successfully deliver a virtual speech.
Say Hello To The Virtual Speech!
As speakers, I think that we can all agree that the medium of virtual speaking is a new medium that none of us have a lot of experience with. A lot of us probably can’t imagine not speaking before a live audience. This can be coupled with trying to find the answer to basic questions such as how can I get started?, How can I engage my audience?
We need to be aware that there is tremendous value in presenting online, but it means next to nothing if you cannot engage your audience effectively. This is a speaker’s greatest challenge. We all know that the attention span of the typical adult ranges from five to eight seconds. If you are unable to get your audience’s attention right from the start, then you are likely to lose them forever. How many times have you had to sit in on a webinar or virtual presentation and mentally wandered off to do something else? There are endless distractions these days including Twitter, Facebook, email and Internet surfing.
Here are some best practices that will help you fully engage your audience online so you can leave them with a message they will not soon forget.
Speakers Have To Know Their Virtual Platform
The first challenge most people encounter is determining which platform to use to deliver their presentation. Currently there are more than 250 options to choose from, and it is virtually impossible to master all of them. Most platforms offer free trials, so you may want to explore them and find out which one best meets your needs. Once you decide on a platform, you will need to master it. It is your responsibility to get to know your Web conferencing tool inside and out.
Make Sure That You Deliver Genuine Value
The most important strategy for engaging any audience, whether in person or online, is for you to present genuine value based on the audience’s most important needs. The best online speakers connect with their audience in advance to find out what their greatest challenges are and what they most would like to learn. Only then can a speaker custom design a highly effective virtual presentation based on the audience’s needs. The best way to engage your audience is to focus specifically on their needs. That is what matters most to them.
Create A Structure For Your Speech
Most speakers begin their presentations with an agenda, or a speech about themselves. Let’s all agree that this is boring. Instead, you should open with something that will get the audience’s attention right from the start: You can use a quote, a fact, a statistic, a provocative statement, or perhaps the biggest challenge your audience is facing right now. You should also have a clear agenda. One way to do this is to include a brief elevator pitch and state your objective. You should have no more than three to five points in the body of your presentation. When you close, be sure to summarize and leave your audience with a message they won’t soon forget.
Be Careful With Your Use Of PowerPoint Slides
Most speaker’s presentations contain too much information. Here is what the problem is: people are naturally drawn to read what is in front of them, so when they’re reading your busy slide, they’re not listening to you. Each of your PowerPoint slides should contain no more than six bullet points and six words per bullet point. However, that is if you even use bullet points! The best way to present information on a slide is to use a “build,” where you bring in one point, speak to it, bring in the next, speak to it, and so on. Doing so will prevent your audience from reading ahead while you present.
What All Of This Means For You
The world in which we are living has changed. As speakers we need to realize this and we have to adjust how we present our speeches to our audience in order to share the benefits of public speaking. One of the biggest changes that we are all dealing with is the simple fact that we no longer have to travel to meet with our audience. Our presentations can now go virtual and we can deliver them online. However, when we do this we need to change the way that we present our information. Are you ready to go virtual?
Speakers need to remain aware of their audience’s limited attention span. In order to deliver a virtual presentation, we need to choose a platform to use. When we do this, we need to take the time to fully understand how it works. Every speech that we give needs to contain value that we have determined that our audience wants. Your speech has to have an agenda and a structure that will allow you to give your audience what they came to hear. We all use PowerPoint slides in our speeches, but when we go virtual we need to be very careful about how we use this powerful tool.
Presenting in the virtual environment can be a very effective way of communicating your message to your audience. Now your audience does not have to come to see you – you will come to see them. Make sure that you focus on value and entertain your audience. By doing so, you’ll engage your listeners and have fun too.
Question For You: What should you do if your platform starts acting up 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
More and more speakers are being asked to deliver their speeches remotely. On one hand this is a good thing – we are being asked to give more speeches and we can share the importance of public speaking. On the other hand, it can be challenging to transform our in-person speech into a speech that works when presented on a computer screen. The good news is that this can be done. You have the ability to give a speech that will connect with your audience and you just may change their lives even though you are not there with them. However, in order to make that happen, you are going to have to change how you give your speeches.