Are we all television presenters now?

It is hard to believe that within the last 12 months most of us have moved from never having heard of Zoom, Webex, Skype and the like to using it with our elderly parents to wish them happy birthday, to playing family games over Christmas and to having countless work meetings, webinars, and training courses on it.

Whilst it still holds the occasional terror as our internet goes down, our camera freezes or our colleagues are yelling at us that we are still on mute, most of us now accept online meetings and calls as part of ‘the new normal’.

Initially participants in webinars and online meetings were excited to use the technology. We all marvelled that it worked at all. Now, as our comfort with the technology grows, so do the expectations of participants.

If team members are required to sit through a multi-hour training online training session, or several back-to-back meetings it can be very hard to maintain their interest and engagement.

Each presenter is required to do more than just talk to the camera. We now have to learn to perform to camera in the same way TV presenters have been doing for decades.

Here are 5 things to keep in mind for all virtual presentations:

  1. Can they see you? Get your lighting right. The light should be in front of you, not behind. Sit facing a window or invest in a small laptop light.
  2. Can they hear you? Your laptop or pc microphone will pick up background noise such as air conditioning, dogs barking or other people speaking. It can also have an echo or become distorted. Headphone sets with microphones can ensure you sound more professional.
  3. Maintain eye contact. The eyes are the windows of the soul. Look at your laptop camera when you present.
  4. Maintain your energy. If you look or sound bored the participants will feel the same. Speak as though you were addressing an audience in the same room as you. Variations in facial expressions and in your speaking tone keep you looking and sounding interesting
  5. Keep it interactive. Ask questions and allow them to respond. Set exercises and tasks and get feedback. At the very least you can conduct polls or invite comments on the chat function.

‘My most useful tip on acting came from John Wayne who said, ‘Talk low, talk slow and don’t say too much’.
Michael Caine

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Published on Jan 26, 2021 by Geoff Marsh