Online presentations follow their own set of rules and you’d better get the hang of them

Online presentations are quickly gaining a bad reputation. Take a look at the following email, for example, that recently made its way into our mailbox:

“The students are not comfortable taking the workshop in an online format. They have been taking plenty of classes online over the past few months and expect this format to be less ‘effective’ compared to a face-to-face workshop.”

And admittedly, we have seen many bad online workshops, presentations and classes lately. Which seems only logical. Suddenly we have all had to adapt to this new form of presenting, that most of us had absolutely no past experience with.

Sigrid De Roover proves that things can be different

After attending our workshop ‘How to present online?’, she sent us this message:

“I was asked to chair a focus group today and applied your tips… I received nothing but compliments! My audience was hanging on my every word and was immediately on board. Amazing!”

Sigrid De Roover, Huis van het kind in Aalter

So, the problem is not with online presentations, but with bad presentations. Let’s quickly do something about that!

The computer is a magnifying glass for your presentation problems

Precisely because we have no experience with online presentations, we do what we have always done: we give our usual presentations, only via a computer.

But when you approach an online presentation just like a regular presentation, at best you will get a watered-down version of the classic face-to-face presentation. At worst, well… people will be doing the dishes while you’re speaking in front of your webcam.

The problem is not with online presentations as such. The computer only increases the deficiencies. Attention spans of the audience are even shorter. Interaction is even more difficult. The audience is even closer to you via the camera, and enthusiasm and body language are even harder to convey via a screen.

You should realize that an online presentation is a completely different game from a regular presentation and that you will need to approach and prepare an online presentation differently altogether.

How do you go about it?

Let us give you these 3 tips to do better online:

  1. Make your presentation shorter. Halve the time you would normally need. Does your talk usually last an hour? Bring that down to a half hour.
  2. Focus on interaction, before, during and after your presentation. For example, provide your participants with information or theory that they can review beforehand. You can then discuss this during the presentation. This is a lot more interactive than presenting the theory ex cathedra. Also, use everything you have available to interact. Work with questions, polls, show of hands or break-out rooms during your presentation.
  3. Put less text on your slides, but not too little either. Ideally, something should change on your slides online approximately every 20 seconds. You can do this, for example, by having key words appear one by one. Those key words will offer participants a form of support If they were not paying attention for a moment. Resist the temptation to cram your slides full of text, because then your audience will simply read it off and stop listening.

Are you wondering about the other ways to receive nothing but compliments? Then our workshop on online presenting could be just the thing for you. We also collected the most important tips in our newest book ‘How to present online?’ (available in Dutch only).