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Coronavirus: How to nail a virtual presentation

Lydia Smith
·Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read
It’s worth doing a trial run of your presentation to check your sound, picture and video all work well. (Getty)

The way we are working has transformed in the space of just a few weeks. To curb the spread of coronavirus, many people are working from home for the first time and trying to navigate the challenges of remote work.

Thanks to technology like Slack (WORK), Zoom (ZM) and good old Gmail (GOOGL), it’s now easier than ever to work outside the office, stay connected with colleagues and be productive. But there are times when remote working becomes more difficult – such as giving a presentation.

Having to give a presentation under normal circumstances isn’t easy. It can be nerve-wracking to stand up in front of your bosses or colleagues, and there is always the added pressure of keeping technical glitches to a minimum. When you are trying to do it from home, it can be even more of a challenge.

So how can you make sure it goes smoothly?

Make sure you prepare

“Preparation is always key. It’s easy to be tricked into thinking you might need to prepare less for a presentation at home, when in fact it is the opposite,” Roddy Adair, director at the recruitment firm Hays.

“Not only do you need to make sure your presentation is watertight, engaging and flows well, you also need to consider the type of tech you will use that fits with the material you’ll be presenting.”

It’s worth doing a trial run of your presentation too, either with a friend, partner or housemate to check your sound, picture and video all work well.

Read more: Coronavirus: Four ways to hold a virtual meeting

Keep people engaged

“Understand what your audience’s distractions are and tailor your presentation accordingly,” Adair says. “Presenting to a virtual audience is difficult given that you can’t see whether they are listening in from their sofa with one eye on the TV, listening whilst trying to look after children or half watching whilst cooking lunch.”

Try to make your presentation as concise as possible and engaging. It can be hard to sit through a long one at the best of times, but it can be even harder when you are just looking at a screen. If it’s lengthy, give people the opportunity to take a break and get away from their computers, even if it’s just a chance to grab a coffee.

“Tools such as Slido are useful to do a quick poll with either before, during or after your presentation,” he adds. “Keep your presentation visual by showing your face alongside any slides you are presenting.”

Ask people to turn their cameras on

It can also help to encourage people to switch on their cameras too, even for a short while to see how they are reacting to what you have to say. “So long as your background is professional and not distracting, it’ll help your audience stay more engaged,” Adair says.

Remember that people don’t have time to spare

Everyone is under pressure right now, whether they are just struggling with the reality of working from home or trying to juggle work and childcare. Therefore, it’s important to stick to your allotted time slot when giving a presentation and give people plenty of time in advance, so they can schedule time to listen to you without distractions.

Read more: How to interview someone virtually when working from home

“Everyone who is working remotely will have lots of tasks to be juggling and you won’t have time to check if your audience has capacity to stay listening to your presentation for longer than it should be running,” Adair says. “Keep your phone away during your presentation but do keep a watch or clock visible so you have a good idea if you need to speed up or slow down.”