Written by: Tess Gibson
Edited by: Sharon Lee
Viewers join one by one, and presentation time is about to begin. But how do you grab the audience’s attention when they’re miles away? Here are some tips to make your Zoom presentation stick out from the crowd.
Use eye contact
The nature of online presentations allows you to make every audience member feel you are speaking directly to them. However, this only works if you’re looking directly into the camera. Though it may not come naturally, you should look into the little green light as much as possible so your audience can sense that you are present despite your distance.
Emphasize your verbs
No one wants to listen to a monotone lecture, and there’s even less incentive over Zoom, when you can turn off your video and snooze away. When you give a presentation online, a monotone lecture may even make it appear that you’re reading off of a script. A sure way to add interest is putting action into your verbs. Try writing out your hook and highlighting your verbs. For example, one should ask “how do we stop cancer?” instead of mumbling “how do we stop cancer?”. Use this to practice bringing life into your presentation and then transition to practice without your script. Adding a little extra excitement and inflection to your verbs grabs the attention of the audience and keeps them engaged with wherever you’re taking them next.
Most people know to try to limit the amount of words on a slide, but what do you replace them with? Animations! Using animations is a great way to “show” your audience rather than “tell.” You want the audience focused on your visuals, not reading a complete sentence off of your slide. Start with the basics by animating circles or arrows to appear on command as a way to highlight portions of your images. Then, take it up a notch by animating images to appear one after another using timing controls to achieve a sequentially animated talk that seems almost more like a movie than a presentation. If building multiple animations into one slide is daunting, you can also use multiple slides to add or remove images with the same effect.
Keep it aesthetically pleasing
Nothing is more off-putting than a glaring typo or an unintentional shift in font halfway through a presentation. On Zoom, these tiny errors have an even greater impact because a majority of the screen is your slide. Proof-reading your presentation is a simple but key step in the preparation process. Some common issues to look for are…
- Font size, type, or color shift
- Lack of continuity (e.g. using complete sentences in some cases and not others)
- Poor quality images
- Mislabeled graphs and tables
If you include it, talk about it
It’s great to have figures, but if you don’t explain them, no one in the audience will know what they mean. Be sure to explain your axes, what the figure tells you, and how it relates to your main point. If the results are not conclusive, discuss that too. Try using the laser pointer feature in place of your mouse to explain specific parts of your figures as you talk about them.
Squeeze your butt
Lastly, squeeze your butt! That’s right, go ahead and try it! This is a silly but useful trick to start off your presentation right. Plant your feet, straighten your back, and tighten your behind. Don’t worry, you don’t have to maintain this posture for your entire presentation. Feel free to relax and move your arms. This is just to start you off with a feeling of confidence and strength.
With these tips in mind, your audience will need a magnifying glass because they’ll want to zoom in on your presentation!