8 myths and truths about virtual presentations

It’s difficult enough.

Trying to captivate an audience via webinar, that is.

Your listeners are surrounded by distractions like their computers, cell phones, and maybe even their cat peeing on the carpet near their desk.

How are you supposed to keep your audience glued to your presentation? Involved? Retaining your content? Preparing to apply it?

Especially when you’re unknowingly believing any of the myths you might have been told below.

This blog will give you 8 myths and truths about effective virtual presentations. That way, you’ll approach your next webinar with best practices that give you the confidence you need as a speaker… and your audience the motivation they need to pay attention to your insights.

1. You should memorize your talk.

Myth! Memorizing your talk tends to make any presenter sound rehearsed, formulaic and insincere.

Plus, it puts unnecessary pressure on you to say the whole thing “perfectly.” And if you draw a blank in one section, it can cause you to get lost, and the entire presentation to falls apart.

Instead, memorize your outline and key concepts, and be conversant on those ideas.

The one exception to this rule would be that there is sometimes value in memorizing your opening and closing, especially if there is a story you want to tell for maximum impact.

2. You shouldn’t be nervous.

Myth! Nerves are a sign that you care about your content, your audience, and you want to present with excellence. That would make anyone nervous!

But the key to overcoming those nerves is to understand that you’re not there to impress your audience. You’re there to serve them with your ideas that will equip them for success.

3. If you encourage notetaking, your audience won’t pay attention to your message.

Myth! The brain doing the talking, writing, and doing is the brain doing the learning.

If you have a handout with blanks, checklists and other visuals, that creates curiosity in your audience, and they desire resolution as to what goes in the blanks.

And even if they never look back at their notes, the mere act of writing them makes your content more likely to be remembered.

4. Voice inflection is a learned skill.

Truth! It’s great to have charisma and passion for your content. But master presenters know how to vary their vocal inflection to match the content.

For example, if you’re telling a serious or sad story that illustrates a pain point that your audience might be experiencing, slowing down is generally the right answer for how to get closer to the most appropriate vocal tone.

5. Look directly at your webcam.

Truth! This will help your audience to feel like you’re speaking directly to them, and listening to them if they’re unmuting their mic to ask a question or respond to your ideas.

But this is easier said than done. Especially when you’re trying to keep track of your outline, slides, timing flow, music, annotate bar, chat box, etc.

One helpful trick is to place a family photo right behind your webcam to remind you that you’re speaking to real people and not into the black abyss of a webcam.

6. Cover all your content.

Truth! Well, I guess it depends.

If your content is all need-to-know information for your audience members, aka content that they need to apply at least six times in the next 30 days after your talk… then yes, cover it all.

But if you have any content that learners won’t be applying quite so urgently, it might be time to trim it from your talk. Instead, send them links to other resources that cover that nice-to-know content, rather than using up your presentation time on it.

7. Invite participation.

Truth! Presenters who simply lecture are quickly forgotten, because learners tune out.

But if you invite learners to stamp, type and draw on the screen, text chat with you, unmute their mics, discuss your ideas in breakout rooms, etc., they’ll pay closer attention and remember your content.

8. Don’t let them move while you are presenting.

Myth! Your learners are smarter when standing.

If you incorporate opportunities for them to stand during your presentation, their blood flow will increase to their brains, allowing them to pay closer attention to what you’re teaching.

It only takes three second to reintroduce blood to the brain, so get them on their feet every 20 minutes or so. And every 90 minutes, give them an extended break of 11 to 16 minutes.

So which of those eight tips was most eye-opening to you? What’s one thing you’ll do differently moving forward? 

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