Your heart beats faster. Your palms are clammy. Your breath catches and the clock ticks over. The thumbs up – the red light blinks – you’re live. The audience is watching you closely – but there is just your own face staring back from the screen in front. Now you’re wondering if the audience has noticed the collection of dirty mugs that have somehow managed to inch themselves into frame.
No longer is there the easy chat as people enter the room, or the ability to gauge reactions to your presentation - the subtle nods of agreement, the chuckles in response to your cleverly crafted joke. With the below tricks we can help you recast the way you present yourself virtually and have full confidence that your presentation will be memorable for all the right reasons.
We have all seen those unflattering angles as we stare up the nose of the virtual presenter. With the simple use of a stack of books or a box to raise your laptop/webcam to just above eye level, you can avoid this basic stumbling block. Avoid the temptation to glance around the room so you remain looking focused. A little trick is to use a sticky note with an arrow on your device pointing where to look especially if you have multiple screens. These days they say the lens is the window to the soul!
When you sound better you look better. There is a noticeable difference between using the mic built into your device (shallow and echoey) and a separate mic (warmer, more commanding). If the only option is the former, keep it as close to you as possible to cut down on background noise. Remember to let others know you do not wish to be disturbed – we all loved the interview with Robert E. Kelly and his photobombing children but it may put you off your presentation stride.
To avoid your screen casting you in a ghostly shade of blue take a few minutes to set up the lighting – it will be worth it, especially if you’re wearing glasses. Try a lamp behind the laptop and test out the overhead lighting, avoiding windows behind you - these can often leave your face in shadow.
Dogs, cats, children, sensitive information, or unusual artwork – check there is nothing visible behind you that you don’t wish to be seen by the audience. If possible, try and create some space behind you to give a good sense of depth so that the focus remains on you – but make sure it still looks clean and tidy.
Dress the part to make the best impression! Bold, plain colours are ideal, and if wearing jewellery, keep it subtle and check it doesn’t catch the light.
Slow your pace of vocal delivery and time yourself in a mini rehearsal – if you’re speaking more than 170 words per minute, slow it down to about 140. Use pauses for impact. Silence in the right place can also command attention.
If you have carefully considered the above points and made all your preparations, when the red dot clicks on, and you get the thumbs up to go live, you know all you need to worry about is making sure you’re not on mute!