Online Presentations - What You Need to Know

The coronavirus thrust us all unexpectedly into situations where we were forced to give PowerPoint presentations remotely. For many people, this has now become the new normal. How different is it to have audiences logging on via Teams or Zoom instead of being in the same room as you?
When we compare offline and online presentations, we soon realize they operate quite differently. We have summarized these differences for you, and provided concrete tips to help you give professional, successful presentations online.

online presentations

Who attends the presentation?

Offline presentation: You generally know who is attending the meeting/presentation and what their level of prior knowledge is.
Online presentation: Online meetings have fewer access barriers, and can have “surprise guests”.
Tip: Briefly explain the initial situation and aim of the presentation at the start to ensure everyone is on the same page.


What state are the participants in?

Offline presentation: You can observe the participants and see who looks stressed.
Online presentation: You don’t know what state the participants are in.
Tip: At the start of your presentation, ask your audience what their current workload is like, and whether they have meetings to go to afterward.

How do you use the pre-presentation time?

Offline presentation: You can establish a relationship with the participants through small talk even before starting your presentation.
Online presentation: There is no “warm-up phase”; the phase leading up to the time when everyone is online usually involves no communication at all, as everyone is trying to get something else done quickly before the presentation starts.
Tip: Use the quiet time before the presentation as a warm-up, and ask personal questions: Where are you right now? How is your family? How is everything going working from home? 

Say Hello

How attentive is your audience?

Offline presentation: There are not a lot of ways your audience can become distracted, and you can tell when their minds start wandering.
Online presentation: There are lots of ways your audience can become distracted without anyone noticing.
Tip: Involve your audience in the presentation. Do a quick poll, get their opinions, talk to them. And warn them beforehand that you will be doing this. 

How do you get feedback?

Offline presentation: Observing your audience is a way of constantly obtaining non-verbal feedback, such as approval, enthusiasm, doubt etc.
Online presentation: It is basically impossible to gauge non-verbal reactions. 
Tip: Actively obtain feedback on important points during the presentation. Flag the feedback loops, e.g. using specific slides.  


How important are breaks?

Offline presentation: You can tell when your audience needs a break, or can factor in breaks from the outset.
Online presentation: It is still uncommon for breaks to be taken during online meetings, as anyone can slip out briefly without being noticed. 
Tips: Factor in breaks, and advise this at the start of your presentation. Even a short break will increase your audience’s alertness. 

How much moderation does the meeting need?

Offline presentation: You and everyone else in the room can see who is currently speaking.
Online presentation: You often don’t know who is currently speaking. In many cases, two people end up speaking at the same time.
Tip: As the presenter, you are also the moderator. Address your participants by name for everyone’s information.

How do spontaneous visuals work?

Offline presentation: People often grab a pen and visualize an idea on a flipchart or whiteboard to explain a concept.
Online presentation: It is not common to quickly visualize something online.
Tip: Practice using a stylus, and prepare a kit of visual elements you can use spontaneously. Test out the visualization process beforehand.



What are the technical requirements?

Offline presentation: You can test the technical requirements yourself to make sure everything is working
Online presentation: The technical requirements are not totally within your control. Unexpected problems can occur.
Tip: Allow enough time for technical challenges. A rule of thumb: Factor in 30% more time than estimated for the presentation.

For more tips on how to give successful presentations, visit our Know-How Portal.




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