Why do some virtual presentations succeed while others miss the mark?

Why do some virtual presentations succeed while others miss the mark?

Too many speakers who flourished as in-person presenters struggle with the shift to virtual presentations. Why? Because they’re trying to repurpose content meant for live events (think live theatre) to audiences in a completely different realm (consider television). They fail because they don’t put enough thought into making human connections through a screen. In worst cases, many seasoned speakers refuse to admit it’s even possible. Yet, they’re wrong. It’s entirely possible.

Speakers who thrive with virtual presentations are open to reimagining their performance to suit the new medium (video). They realize their audience’s attention spans are shorter than in traditional convention centers or ballrooms. Successful virtual speakers know they must prepare differently for an online audience. This means plotting, in advance, how they’re going to maintain engagement. The number one way to do this is to make sure the presentation is concise, valuable, and makes a human connection. 

Other ways to achieve this include:

  • Starting with a countdown timer and music while attendees wait for the official start
  • Adding elements of surprise, such as motion graphics, or even an unexpected guest (live or pre-recorded)
  • Having a variety to what’s on-screen and
  • Including the audience as much as possible. 

An effective virtual speaker isn’t a talking head with a PowerPoint deck. They are not delivering a TED talk. The most dynamic virtual presenters create addresses that add value to their listeners’ lives and include polished production pieces without being long-winded.

It’s crucial to remember that every attendee at a virtual event has a VIP seat. They’re up close. They’re in whatever space they choose, and it may be overrun with distractions. Presenters who want to overcome the challenges in this realm need to rework their talks. They need to cut them down to manageable lengths and think cinematically when it comes to delivery. They need to be creative and think of ways to tell their story in a way that’s not just memorable but visually unforgettable.

If you want to be one of the best virtual presenters in your niche, come up with ways you can harness the advantages of being virtual vs. live. Have fun! There is no need to recreate what’s familiar, and as Steve Jobs once famously said, “think different.” The truth is that whether your talk succeeds or not depends on how much you’ve prepared and invested in your virtual presentation skills. These moments demand more than an energetic presenter. They require you to create a unique digital experience.

If this blog stirred your imagination and you’d like to get more tips on presenting better in the virtual arena, consider following me on LinkedIn.

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