Do you have an important report or pitch to present? A big job interview on the horizon? Now that we’re living in a world of virtual meetings, you’ll want to present online in a way that exudes confidence and pizazz. Since you can’t own the room, own the Zoom.
Speaking confidently online requires preparation: Your content should be polished, but your delivery should be relaxed. The key to this paradox? Find a way to be as you are, while at your best.
Zoom tips: 5 ways to make presentations personable
Follow these five guidelines to liven up your online presentations:
1. Unchain from your chair
The first rule of good presentations or pitches on Zoom is to stand up. Standing instantly gives you more confidence because it allows you to breathe easily and to use relaxed gestures. It also brings a massive boost to your energy and your voice power.
Using your hands when you speak has been shown to increase vocal variety. It’s a game-changer. Not convinced? Try it: Get a laptop stand and practice your presentation from a range of places around your home. Take Maya Angelou’s advice: “Stand up, know who you are…tower over your circumstances,” however daunting those circumstances may seem.
[ Want more advice on how to communicate effectively? Read also: Zoom tips: 6 ways to make meetings better. ]
2. Master your message
The second rule: Avoid death by PowerPoint. Most Zoom presentations put audiences to sleep because presenters simply read from their deck in a flat voice. Don’t be that person. The slides are there when you need a visual to bring the content alive; they shouldn’t take the place of a script.
It’s important to create a plan. Condense your presentation to five elements: an introduction, three points, and a wrap-up. Map it out on paper, then speak it aloud. Feel how it flows. Record it on voice notes on your phone, then listen to pinpoint where you can smooth out any stumbles or up your energy.
Reduce your message down to key words, with one memorable signpost for each section. Then write those key words down and see if you can deliver your presentation using just your signposts as prompts. Add slides only to give visual flair to your information. You take center screen – not your deck. When you command your performance, you send your audience a powerful message: You are an expert.
3. Practice makes perfect
Once you’ve got your message nailed down, think about how to get your voice and body working in perfect harmony. Think of yourself as a cohesive unit with no rough edges or gritty hindrances to ruin the effect.
Few of us take the time to practice our presentations. Admittedly, it might feel awkward to practice on Zoom, but it can make all the difference in the impact of your presentation. After all, no performer goes on stage without having rehearsed, and no athlete walks onto a field without training.
Zoom is a perfect tool to help you practice because you can book a “meeting” with yourself, record it, and play it back. Once you’ve watched yourself, you’ll know exactly what you need to do.
4. Open up before you go onscreen
When you’re under stress, you see a very narrow field of vision. Screens make this even worse. To release tension before a teleconference, it’s a good practice to open yourself physically – think of throwing the windows open on a fresh new day. Here’s how to do it:
Stand tall and stretch your arms out wide. Take up space. Open your peripheral vision and observe all around you. Open up your voice by imagining that you’re sending it to the back wall, or even outside to the street. Think of a song you love and sing it, letting your voice fill the room. Feel your voice and energy open up.
5. Find your extra energy
Extra energy is exactly what gives you charisma on Zoom meetings. For an infusion of energy for your presentation, use what actors call “emotion memory:” Draw on a memory of something you love. It might be a place where you feel relaxed, an event that made you smile, or even a compliment or words of encouragement that boosted your confidence.
If you feel your face freezing into a fixed expression, imagine smiling at a friend. This helps release tension and encourages your audience to relax, too.
These five tips can add a much-needed boost to your next presentation.
[ Is your team tired of Zoom? Mix it up. Read also: 10 ways to fight Zoom fatigue. ]