Online presentations

10 public speaking tips for online presentations

The old rules are more important than ever

Presentations and public speaking were difficult enough back then. You might have had a physical audience, but it was never guaranteed to be captive. Smartphones and their endless streams of content always had a good chance of being more interesting than you.

It still is, only worse. In the past, social conventions minimized surreptitious scrolling. But there’s nothing very social about an audience of lonely viewers who have other screens to look at, or make no effort to hide downcast looks at smartphones, or turn their cameras off entirely. As a presenter, you can be doubly alone, physically and virtually.

Smartphones had a good chance of being more interesting than you.

So you have to be more interesting than everything else, clear and well organized. To find out how, we turned back to Bob Ackroyd, a business communication instructor at JR Shaw School of Business, who once provided us with a list of dos and don’ts when addressing rooms full of real people.

The play may be gone, but the rules remain and they are more important than ever. “These are the ’10 tips’ that I will give to my class,” says Ackroyd. No doubt he will have his students, each elsewhere, glued to their screens.

  1. Look directly into the camera and don’t forget to modulate your voice: volume, pitch and speed.
  2. Greet your audience with a smile (smile a lot throughout), introduce yourself by name and maybe give your qualification to speak.
  3. Do not apologize for being a bad speaker or for saying that you were forced to give this speech against your will.
  4. Don’t tell an ‘ice breaker’ joke if it does not relate to the subject of the speech.
  5. Tell your audience “where you are going” with this speech. That’s the point.
  6. Keep this point in mind throughout the speech as you “go”.
  7. End with a brief summary of “where you’ve been,” or how you got to the point.
  8. End with a well-worded and memorable statement summing up the point you want the audience to remember.
  9. If there is a question period, repeat that well-worded statement at the end so that it stays up like the last thought.
  10. After a break, thank your audience for their attention.

    Banner image credit: istock.com/filadendron


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