5 tips for nailing that all-important virtual presentation or interview
While our Zoom skills might be adequate for keeping our loved ones up to date on our latest baking/gardening exploits, when it comes to presenting, interviewing and conducting meetings on camera, it’s a whole different ball game.
With the use of the video call software jumping 30-fold since the pandemic’s start, and with 46.6% of the UK population having worked remotely at some point over the last year, it’s well worth fine-tuning your video call technique.
Whether you’re delivering a deal-clinching virtual presentation or conducting an interview to find that star candidate, there are some very basic things that people are still getting wrong. But luckily, there are some very quick (and easy) fixes.
Getting off to a smooth start
Did you know that over the last year the average remote worker has lost the equivalent of 3 days and 2 hours waiting for virtual meetings to start? While the Zoom waiting room (AKA the limbo zone) is essential for privacy, it poses a real challenge for any presenter hoping to get their virtual presentation off to a smooth start, with audience members likely to trickle through the waiting room over the course of a 5 or 10 minute period.
So how can you ensure you still get off to a smooth start? The key is knowing who your audience are (and this requires some nifty in-advance LinkedIn research). While you’re waiting for everyone to join, you’re afforded an excellent opportunity to network. Get to know who you’re speaking to and use this knowledge to inform your presentation. And, when it comes to style, think about easing your audience in with some anecdotes. The key is to adopt a tone that seamlessly travels from small talk to industry expertise.
Avoid becoming the second tab
Ever found yourself ticking off some admin mid-way through a less-than-exciting presentation? Unfortunately, as a virtual presenter, you’re up against one of the most distracting technologies known to man: the computer and it’s endless web-browsing capabilities. The last thing you want is to fall victim to second tab syndrome.
When keeping an audience engaged virtually, you don’t quite have the same tools at your disposal: moving dynamically around a room and eye contact (unless you have the inhuman ability to stare directly into the webcam without getting distracted by your screen) are off the cards. So what can you do instead?
The average attention span for virtual presentations are all a little bit shorter, with most attendees losing interest around the 10 minute mark. So it’s clear that the best approach is to keep presentations short and snappy, and it’s always a good idea to throw in the odd joke while you’re at it. And the ultimate antidote to word waffle? A thorough presentation run-through beforehand.
Flattering camera angles aren’t just for selfies
It may sound obvious, but webcam positioning is everything. In fact, according to a Frontiers in Psychology study which looks at how webcam placement influences perception and social coordination, raising your webcam to eye level or slightly higher is the best angle for engaging your audience.
As well as avoiding any unflattering nostril shots, a heightened position forces you to adopt better posture, which in turn encourages deeper breathing, leading to a more relaxed presentational style.
Lights, camera, action
Leave the dramatic silhouettes to 1930s film noir. For a presentation or an interview where up to 93% of your communication is nonverbal, clean lighting that clearly shows your face, without an overexposed background, is the way forward. While natural lighting is great, it’s often unreliable – after all, we live in the UK where the sun’s appearance is erratic at best.
So, while you might have previously considered ring lights to be an unnecessary bit of kit used only by YouTube makeup gurus, with virtual meetings and interviews now looking to be a permanent fixture, it’s definitely a worthy investment. And, as a plus (thanks to a Covid-induced rise in popularity), ring lights are now a budget friendly piece of gear costing as little as £10.
“We can’t hear you!”
The last thing anyone wants to hear is a muffled microphone or, worse still, a laptop microphone that picks up every keyboard click of your diligent meeting minutes. Investing in an external microphone is a sure way to iron out any audio mishaps and, much like the budget-friendly ring light, a desktop microphone usually comes in around the £15 mark. They’re easy to use: simply plug it directly into your laptop/desktop and you’re ready to go.
And, once you think you’ve got your set up down to a T, it’s well worth running a quick tech check. Zoom and other presentation and meeting software all have a built-in audio test function, so you can “1-2-1-2-testing” to your heart’s content.
While we might not all be destined for the big-screen, more and more of our lives are being spent on camera. And though at first this may have seemed like a lockdown fad, virtual presentations and interviews are here to stay – they’re convenient and they’re time efficient – quite frankly, we’ve seen the light. So, with video calls now a critical part of how we communicate, it’s well worth nailing your web-cam etiquette.
At Yours Sincerely we offer media training workshops – download the details here.