5 new rules of public speaking for today’s virtual presenters

If you feel like you spend your days presenting virtually, be it to your team or to your management stakeholders, this handy list (which includes online tools), compiled by Saana Azzam, Founder of MENA Speakers, will help you reinvent your presentation style.

As most live speaking events have gone virtual, professional speakers as well as HR & business leaders have had to reinvent their presentation style to engage audiences and avoid Zoom fatigue. The new presentation environment has given rise to a new set of rules for effective public speaking.

Here are the five key learnings that we picked up along the way

1. Involve the audience

Capitalise on technology that allows you to quickly, wirelessly, survey your audience. Ascertain where their heads are collectively and tailor the depth or tone of your presentation accordingly. They’ll appreciate the interaction and you’ll appreciate the chance to know what type of audience you’re addressing. It’s also a great way to build a catalog of informal stats.

2. Make greater use of video 

Short, punchy video clips that drive home the point you’re making, leaving an impression on the audience far more impactful than a slide graphic can.

Just be sure the video content is appropriate and short. Use it to illustrate your point, but don’t rely on it as a crutch to simply fill out your presentation. Audiences will see right through that, so chose your clips carefully and use judiciously.

3. Let your backdrop reinforce your overall message

Rather than using a bookcase with a strategically placed vase and natural lighting to serve as your background, consider employing an image or video clip that help reinforce your messaging. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy – one popular YouTuber uses footage of the sea passing by his balcony for his popular cruise news vlog – just something that subtly connects your audience with the theme of your presentation.

4. Work on hybrid presentation skills

Increasingly, presenters are giving a talk to both a live conference audience while simultaneously broadcasting over Zoom to virtual attendees. Be conscious of the needs of both audiences and practice ways to balance your presentation to effectively reach both.

Jokes that serve as icebreakers with live audiences often come off as real groaners to virtual ones.

Review your presentation and see what elements play to which audiences and ensure there is a balance.

5. Capitalise on new tools for presenters

Keep abreast of new tools that will help bolster the effectiveness of your presentation. Take a look at Loom.com, the video recording app that captures your presentation for instant sharing to internet audiences via a special link. Other apps to explore are Krisp.ai is an app that lets you cancel background noise as well as Fireflies.ai which lets you record, transcribe, and search across your Zoom calls. Prezi.com is also a versatile tool great for the audience when you are sharing some slides.

Photo / Provided (author: Saana Azzam, Founder of MENA Speakers)