For students learning to complete presentations online, interviewing for a job, or even starting projects such as a vlog or webinar series, strategies for engaging your virtual audience is a key skill that many of us have started learning since the start of the pandemic.
When most of our activities are being completed through online means, there are increasing pressures to host professional, engaging virtual experiences for others. For example, the other day I hosted a virtual competition for over 50 students on Zoom and learned a significant amount about engaging the audience, presenting effectively, and ensuring the entire event goes smoothly. Just like in-person presentations, virtual experiences require a lot of effort in the preparation steps. Many people believe that virtual presentations are easier, more convenient, and require less planning ahead. However, this has changed as technologies have become smarter and audience expectations have grown. So, what are some tips for successfully preparing for a virtual presentation (be it an interview, a webinar or an AU class presentation)?
Please note, I am not sponsored by any of the products listed. These are purely recommended from my personal experience and usage.
Use a good-quality microphone: a surprising number of people use poor quality mics that break up your speech or presentation and can create a negative first impression when presenting to important stakeholders. To help your audience hear you clearly and to help you deliver your message effectively, try using a non-desktop microphone which can enhance the quality of your voice. For example, I found this budget headset with a built-in microphone that has transformed my voice quality and helped reduce a lot of ambient sound that comes with using the computer’s built-in microphone. You don’t need to spend a fortune for a professional microphone to have good sound quality.
Good lighting: one of the things I played around with while learning how to deliver a webinar with my volunteer group was lighting. I noticed that many professional live-streamers and Youtube celebrities actually use fabulous lighting that enhances their facial expressions and likely attract larger audiences to their channel. After some time, I decided to try out a ring-light which can be easily purchased online. Some ring-lights have varied light settings that can dim or brighten depending on your needs. My ring light also has the ability to cast blue or yellow-tinted lights that help bring a different online ambience. For example, yellow-tinted lights help to cast a softer, warmer tint to your skin.
Good quality webcam: While many laptops and desktops have built-in webcams, I invested in a 1080 Pixel USB web camera that increased the quality and clarity of my webinars and presentations. The webcam also allowed me more flexibility in adjusting the angle and direction my camera would be pointing. The webcam can be set up to sit on top of your laptop or desktop monitor and adjusted to your liking.