As you’re counting down the days to your next virtual presentation, you start to wonder if there’s a way for you to do things differently this time around.
You want your audience to have fun, be more present, and engage with your subject.
Most of all, you want it to be memorable.
The best feeling in the world as a presenter is when audience members can’t stop talking about your presentation.
Stick around for five simple yet effective steps to help keep your audience’s attention and interest during (and even after!) your virtual presentation.
Make your online presentations unforgettable and fun (5 science-backed tips)
Before you take steps to create your virtual presentation, it makes sense to understand the elements of an excellent presentation first.
Carmine Gallo, world-leading expert on transformative communication and author of several best-selling business books, describes that every TED talk that goes viral has three elements – it’s emotional, novel, and memorable.
While Gallo is specifically talking about TED talks, you’ll notice the same patterns in virtual presentations that stick.
Whether you want to persuade prospects with your webinar or you’re pitching to a group of investors, never give a boring online presentation again with the following simple yet effective tips and tricks:
1. Begin with a memorable introduction
One of the common mistakes presenters make is taking the boring route of introducing themselves. Repeating your resume as an intro is the worst!
Your audience has likely done their quick research about you. Perhaps they’ve read about your credentials before signing up for your virtual talk.
The next time you want to make a memorable and persuasive presentation, be mindful of your introduction.
Your audience will be able to make their first impression of you in just a matter of seconds. They can gauge right away whether or not your presentation is worth their time.
“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” shares James Uleman, a researcher on impression management and psychology professor at New York University. “In spite of the congeniality of many professional gatherings, judgments are being made and impressions formed all the time.”
Vanessa Van Edwards, the national bestselling author of Captivate and founder of Science of People, recommends the IISSAAQQ method when starting your presentation:
IISSAAQQ stands for:
- Short story
- Statistic or surprising fact
- Analogy or metaphor
Finally, what you say isn’t the only way to create a good impression. Pay equal attention to your body language, lighting, microphone, camera, and the state of the room you’re presenting in.
2. Make yourself visible often
If you’re part of the audience, you have the luxury to hide from the rest of the presentation participants.
However, if you’re the presenter, take advantage of the fact that humans are innately wired to respond and engage with faces. Make yourself visible often during your presentation.
Putting a face to your presentation also helps you build trust and personal connection with the rest of the audience. In fact, our brains have a specific part, the fusiform face area, dedicated to facial recognition. A happy face can also have a motivational effect on your audience.
Your body language is also a deal-breaker if you want an engaged audience in your virtual presentations. Relax and sit closer to the edge of your seat when presenting. Some presenters find themselves energized and in “presentation mode” when standing up.
Finally, use simple gestures throughout the presentation to make things natural between you and the audience.
3. Add an element of interaction
Like in-person presentations, make your virtual presentation memorable by interacting with audience members.
For a start, use the participant list to interact with your participants by name.
Here are noteworthy ideas to help you interact with audience members the next time you’re about to deliver a talk online or host a webinar:
- Ask questions
- Encourage participants to “raise their hands” (some platforms have this feature)
- Turn a one-sided presentation into a more active discussion by having a co-presenter
- Incorporate chats and polls in your presentation (have someone else take care of this if you don’t want to multitask) for live feedback
- Have a dedicated hashtag that people can use if they want to share your talk on social media
Pro tip: For longer presentations, re-engage every 10 minutes.
“There is research out there showing that we tend to get bored after about ten minutes – which means no matter how engaging a speaker is, there seems to be a natural pattern in our brains where we tune out, literally, tune out, after about ten minutes,” recommends Gallo. “So I’m always recommending to people… always find ways to re-engage, every ten minutes. That can be a video, showing a video. That might mean going to a different speaker.”
4. Harness the power of visuals
According to learning theorists, there are generally three types of learners: verbal learners, experiential learners, and visual learners.
It turns out that around 65 percent of the general population are visual learners. These people need to see what they are learning and may have difficulty following oral lectures alone.
With this in mind, use images to reinforce key points the next time you’re presenting online. Visual aids, when done correctly, don’t only engage your presentation attendees but also boost the memorability of your presentation.
If possible, include people in your visuals because images and pictures of real people help build authenticity.
If you have to use various types of graphs and charts, use them sparingly. While these data visualization tools can help enhance your presentation, they can potentially confuse your audience.
Lastly, use short video snippets. Tools like Piktostory help transform one long video into multiple clips of engaging content.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science even gives the same advice to their community of scientists and researchers – don’t use video clips that are longer than three to four minutes in your presentation unless you really need to.
5. End your presentation with impact (and digital goodies)
A poorly executed ending can ruin an excellent presentation.
Like your introduction, your conclusion will also leave a lasting impression on your audience.
Here are some ideas to conclude your presentation with impact and get people to say, “Hey, that presentation really resonated with me” (or something along those lines):
- Acknowledge your audience. Communication is a two-way street and your presentation is no exception. You can thank them for the time they spent listening to you and recognize their efforts.
- Highlight your contact details at the end of the presentation. Many presenters end their presentation with a “Thank you” slide. While this is good practice, make it more impactful with a “Contact me” slide in case your attendees have more questions about your presentation.
- Make your audience laugh. Short funny anecdotes are a great way to drive your key message home and make your presentation noteworthy.
- Give out digital goodies. “Everybody loves getting things, and it shouldn’t stop just because you are online. Digital goodies might include a downloadable PDF or document that includes more statistics/research or a list of relevant sources related to your presentation,” shares Van Edwards.
- Present a clear call to action on what your audience should do after attending your presentation. It could be committing to your 3-day online course or joining your Discord group.
Ready to make your virtual presentations more fun and memorable?
With isolation as part of the new normal following the pandemic, our need for connection and engagement despite the absence of physicality has never been greater.
Apart from the benefits that it brings your business or organization, you are also doing your audience a favor by making them more involved with your presentation. The best part is they’re walking away from your presentation with new insights and actionable advice.