9 Tips for Successfully Presenting in the New, Hybrid Workplace
Dust off your briefcase and find a belt. Ready or not, we are headed back to the office –well, sort of anyway.
Of course, things will look different. We will be distanced and masked and there will be a lot of hybrid meetings — but meetings, nonetheless. You’ll have to continue making presentations but don’t be surprised the settings have changed.
Like it or not, Zoom is becoming increasingly the way to do things virtually. So if you are not that familiar with using it, now’s the time to get started, and if you’ve already started, it’s a good time to upgrade your presentations and maybe even invest in some new tools.
To help you navigate your way around your Zoom presentations, I’d like to share some insights from Matteo Cassese, a communication, productivity, and digital marketing coach. Cassese, who spent seven years at Warner Brothers and taught at the University of Palermo, is passionate about planning, designing, and delivering impactful and engaging presentations that are high not only in content but also production value.
Cassese has some practical advice that you can implement right away to improve your Zoom presentation. He says that the biggest takeaway for people is usually that the first few elements that you can fix are super easy.
Here they are:
1. Start by putting your laptop in the right spot.
Your laptop is correctly placed in front of your eyes and at the ideal height for your hands but on camera it will probably be tilted too far backward, exposing you and a lot more ceiling above you. A slight adjustment in positioning is all that’s needed. “So what you want to do is bring the laptop higher just for the Zoom calls so that your screen will be at 90 degrees and so your eyes are exactly at the level of the webcam,” Cassese recommends. That way your audience will have a better view of you and your screen.
2. Lighting is more important than ever.
For most of us, our room is well lighted, but usually, we are doing our calls from our workspace on one side of the room near a window or corner, and that space could be insufficiently lit. So make sure you have a source of light that comes from just behind the laptop and that it should be softer than the usual lights that you have at home, Cassese advises.
To further improve the lighting over your call space, Cassese suggests that you invest in a ring light. It doesn’t require a big budget anymore because the prices of professional LED lights have come down. However, if professional lighting is a problem, you can use curtains to control the outside light that is coming into the room.
3. Reconsider the slides you are using in your presentations.
The question is how to present your video or PowerPoint slides on your computer screen within a larger Zoom frame. If you simply share your screen, your video will look very small. But most people, being human, also want to see the presenter and your facial expressions in that Zoom window. So how do you manage to incorporate all that?
There are some tools and virtual cameras that allow you to play with your image and, for instance, place yourself next to your slides so that you can have an “integrated visual” based on your slides and you, Cassese advises. This allows your face as well as the images you’re presenting to have optimum lighting and be in the correct position. This ensures you have a more professional and engaging presentation.
4. The more geographically distanced the Zoom participants are, the more important it is to draw them in.
The most important thing about having a lot of people from around the world connected in a call is to give them the attention and acknowledgment they deserve, even if it means adjusting your planned presentation. So give them a role. Pause to ask questions, and make sure that everybody is included in the conversation.
According to Cassese, the standard Zoom subscription allows you to run a poll so you can ask your audience questions and they can reply in the chat as well as in a multiple-choice interface. “This polling option is hidden but it’s included in most Zoom plans so you can just go into the settings and activate the polls,” Cassese explains.
5. Encourage your audience to get involved by using the reactions that are built into Zoom.
Cassese suggests encouraging your audience to use all the possible reactions provided by Zoom. They can use the “celebrate” icon whenever they want, or if they want you to go deeper into a topic, they should use the “raise hands.”
6. Level up your responsiveness by using interactive slide decks that can go in different directions depending on the desires of your audience.
Before your presentation, you can check with your audience the direction of the presentation the majority would like you to go in. “When they tell you, you can click on the hot area of the slides and start that part of the presentation exactly as they requested,” he suggests.
7. Embrace the video and leverage it for hybrid meetings.
One of the things that won’t change is the demand for high-quality video presentations and we should take full advantage of the technology. For instance, we have the ability to record video calls and then share them as we do with our social media content. We can also use internal presentations of company products or developments that we can share among my colleagues, associates, or clients — the better the quality of information that you produce, the better the impression on our audience.
“Once you set up your visual storytelling etc, then you make content that is not just worthy of that call, it’s worthy of being shared afterward,” advises Cassese.
8. At the very least, invest in an external microphone.
Cassese has a word of warning about the audio: avoid the internal microphone at all costs. “For two reasons: your computer has fans so these were will start in the most inappropriate moments and, you might want to type on your computer and if you type on your computer, it will sound like the footsteps of a Dinosaur in entering the Zoom room.” Instead, he recommends purchasing a USB microphone that is digitally connected to your computer. It’s inexpensive but really ensures you have the best audio quality.
9. Put your phone to good use.
Lighting alone will improve your image significantly; however, cameras in laptops are usually of very low quality. Cassese explains how you can get around this by using your phone. “You can connect them either directly, for instance, on Zoom you can actually share the camera view of your phone, or you can connect them through virtual cameras and switching software that will allow you to mix different inputs and then you can use the camera from your phone.” The selling point of your phone is that it comes equipped with this “state of the art camera” on it. You don’t have to buy an expensive DSLR camera, so just connect this to your laptop.
What lies ahead?
I’m sure we all agree that the key thing is connection. Whether it’s formal conferences, meetups, presentations, as well as wining and dining, chats in the corridor, visiting a booth, getting a demo, exchanging business cards, whether we’re doing this physically or virtually, the point is we’re connecting.
Sounds perfect; sign me up!
Listen to the entire interview featuring Matteo Cassese on the Communications Czar Podcast episode debuting on March 30th. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or www.communicationsczar.com.