Five tips for making online speeches and presentations

As someone who has given or produced hundreds of training webinars over the past ten years, I feel I have a few tips to share with Toastmasters. While presenting online is nothing like standing in front of an audience, the preparation and presentation of slides is key to a successful talk – whichever medium you choose. Here are five tips for Toastmasters – and others – who want to use slides to illustrate their speeches.

  1. Know your Zoom environment. People like to see who is addressing them. So, start your talk with you sitting or standing comfortable in your screen area while you look at the camera rather than your audience. That is hard, but train yourself. Good eye contact is key.
  2. Share your screen after you have made your brief introduction and people have had a good look at your face. Have your slides open and minimised ready for use. To this end, it’s a good idea to close all your other applications so that when you come to share you don’t waste time hunting for your slides. Practice this if you can. If you haven’t already, take out a free Zoom account and use it to practice sharing the screen and quickly transitioning to the slides and the slide show. There’s nothing more painful than watching someone struggling with the tech. Remember that once you are sharing your screen you will still appear on screen, but much smaller, to the side.
  3. Use pictures and illustrations to show on your slides rather than long wordy sentences. The most text that should appear is some key words to highlight what you are saying.
  4. Speak to the slides. If you have used a lot of text because it cannot be avoided, try not to read it out verbatim. Instead, speak naturally around the information on the screen. You could offer to make the slides available afterwards if there is too much to take in. Speak naturally rather than from a script, although by all means have a script beside you to serve as a reminder. I recommend that you run several rehearsals by yourself. You can use your free Zoom account to do this and record the result. Use these rehearsals to check that your microphone is working well. It’s often a good idea to have a headset and not rely on your computer’s built-in mic.
  5. Enjoy yourself. Lastly, keep the message – and your slides – simple, interesting, and lively. If you have prepared well, you can now relax and enjoy your presentation!

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