At first glance, you’d think the platform you’re going to be speaking on would be the biggest factor in considering your options for keeping your audience engaged. Three years ago, that might have been the case. Now? Not so much, because we’ve learned how to adapt what we used to use in person into variations that will work both in person, and virtually. So while the landscape might look a little different, the goal is still the same… engagement.
If your talk is an online webinar, more often than not, you’ll be expected to have a strong set of slides (PowerPoint, Google, Canva, etc.) to go with it. Digitally, that means your visuals getting the full screen treatment while you’re in a small box in one of the corners delivering your words.
If your talk is in person or via Zoom, you have more options (depending on whether or not the event doesn’t have internal limitations), and the freedom to choose one or more, or any combination of the following:
A set of interesting/compelling slides
Using a poll to encourage audience participation. This works both in person and on Zoom.
Talk directly to your audience. Yes. Even virtually, you can literally ask your audience questions and solicit answers by asking them to raise their hand. Remember, whether you’re live or virtual… your audience is filled with real people, not just faces.Lastly, let’s not forget how much the quality of your presentation’s visuals matter. PowerPoint can be an extremely effective tool to help you get your points across. Using it to its best advantage will help you avoid the dreaded “death by PowerPoint” fate of speakers who don’t thoughtfully supplement their words with other ways to engage their listeners. But whether you’re using PowerPoint or some other type of visuals, here are 3 things to keep in mind:
Choose quality photos and/or graphics.
Don’t clutter slides with text. Keep the text brief, and use a font large enough for people to read. Don’t overwhelm your audience with too many slides! Your slides should compliment your words as a secondary way for your audience to take in and engage with your content.
Now let’s talk about what can literally separate professionals from the rest. Pros don’t just practice their talk out loud. They put aside time to deliberately practice delivering their talk in tandem with their physical presentation, in real time. This is how they build up their confidence and comfort with delivering their presentation. Fortunately, any one of us can do this on Zoom. Just start a meeting with yourself, hit record, and practice talking while sharing your visuals, creating break out rooms, using polls, or whatever. If the option is available to you, do a last dry run with a few people willing to sit in your “mock” audience.
No matter which options you choose to supplement your words, do your level best to choose ways that are interesting and engaging. Trust me, your audiences really do want to hear your problem-solving solutions. How great is it that you have so many options for sharing it!