When making a presentation from the home office, it’s tempting to overlook the small details. But in virtual presentations, virtually everything matters, so mind the three P’s: posture, place, and preparation.
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Working remotely and presenting online has ostensibly become the norm. A much shorter and less complicated commute takes you to the comforts of a home office while attired in a business casual top, pajama bottoms, and fuzzy slippers, and this has all relaxed some of business operating rules. But however comfortable you get in your WFH routine, one routine in which you cannot afford to get comfortable is how you handle your online presentations.
If you’re not vigilant in virtual presentations, audience members will seize on unprofessional sights and behaviors and never let go for the entirety of your talk. To avoid this fate, make sure you’re minding your three presentation P’s: posture, place and preparation
1. Posture: Stand when speaking
Yes, stand! Even for virtual presentations. When you stand to speak, you instantly improve the quality of your voice and its projection because you are able to breathe properly. As a result, you sound strong and clear. Moreover, when you stand to speak, it gives you a sense of authority. To see what I mean, sit down, assess how you feel, then stand up, and assess how you feel. There’s a difference; there’s power in being on your feet. You feel it! You would never walk onto a stage to give a 30-minute presentation to a live audience and ask for a chair in which to sit. Don’t do it for your virtual presentations either. Invest in a standing desk or use one of my hacks from the past: Get a square plastic waste basket, turn it up-side-down, and sit your laptop on it.
2. Place: Be aware of what your will audience see
I’m not talking about a slide deck here; I’m talking about your attire and your background. If you’ve ever worked with a realtor to sell a home, you may have heard the word “staging.” The point behind staging is simple: You want to position your home so the potential buyer is better able to visualize him/herself in your home. To do so, you declutter and put your home’s best foot forward. This may mean tossing some items in storage and bringing in some rented furniture — whatever it takes to make the place pleasing to the eye. The same goes for virtual presentations. Get rid of all the stuff that will be in your audience’s field of vision, and wear an outfit that does not take away from your message. You want your audience to visualize itself taking action based on what you’re saying — not staring at your wrinkled yet amazingly comfortable v-neck that now looks like a u-neck, or considering all the storage bins, piles of paper, and miscellaneous items pushed against the wall behind you. There is no need to do a massive cleaning or a complete overhaul of your space. Get a preview what your audience will see by engaging your camera in the platform a day or so before showtime, then move the clutter out of the camera’s field of view. (And if you stand for your presentation with your camera positioned just right, then they won’t even see that mess on the floor!) The bottom line is it’s okay if everything off-camera looks a wreck; just ensure everything on-camera looks aesthetically pleasing.
Related: 5 Pro Tips for Virtual Presentations
3. Preparation: Save your audience from thinking you slapped this together
If you plan to show a video during the course of your presentation, ensure you know how to share your screen or the application … before the presentation. Refrain from telling the audience you will share a video and if it doesn’t work, then you’ll troubleshoot. This is a sure sign you did not prepare, and when it is evident to your listeners you did not prepare, it sends a message to them that you did not think they were important enough or that your message was not important enough to deserve preparation. Either way, it’s not a good look. Again, access the platform beforehand, have someone join you, and share the video to your one-person audience to confirm it can be heard and seen so when you show up for your actual presentation, you are fully prepared.
Will your presentation completely fail as a result of any one of these missteps? No, it won’t. Does your audience as well as your image deserve everything you can do to consistently deliver a top-notch representation of your brand and your business? Absolutely. Every. Single. Time.