Just over 2 years ago, in Lockdown 1 when we thought posting pictures of banana bread was cute and COVID would be over by summer, I wrote this:
I shared my (many) Zoom screw ups and hoped these lessons could make the move to a virtual world less painful for people.
They went down rather well.
2 years on I’m still asking this: what exactly makes someone or something interesting online? And what makes us bomb?
How can you hold listeners’ attention virtually, even when their phone’s blinking away seductively like Jessica Rabbit?
So, I wanted to gather some more of my tips for you I’ve shared recently with my latest cohorts of Email Engagement trainers.
5 unexpected tips to wow people on Zoom
Whether it’s a regular meeting, training or presentation to the UN (I know you’re a high-flyer…), these unusual tips with a bit of science will help you win over your audience in double-quick time.
1. Lighting really matters (but it’s not why you think)
You might be saying to yourself ‘I’m just not as vain as you, Kim’ (and you’re probably right), but hear me out. Good lighting isn’t about vanity, it’s about clarity.
Making your face clearly visible helps your audience engage with what you’re saying. We’re used to reading hundreds of microexpressions on people’s faces to understand their intentions and their meaning.
If your face is shrouded in darkness like Wednesday Adams, you’re just making it harder for people to engage with you. So never sit in front of a window (unless you want goth vibes) and invest in some great lights (I have these LEDs).
2. Face it, go big
When you share slides online, your face on your video feed ends up in tiny box. Just like with bad lighting, people then have to work harder to see your expressions and engage with you.
So at the beginning of your presentation (and at various points throughout) unshare your slides. That way your audience can see more of your gorgeous face and can relate to you more.
It also has the added bonus of providing a ‘pattern interrupt’ to change pace and keep them hooked.
3. Tee them up
‘Any questions? No? Anyone? Anyone? No?………….Ok well I guess we can wrap up early.’
It’s always painful to see presenters get Q&A tumbleweed (it makes me want to crawl under my desk with embarrassment).
But it’s often not because the presenter has been a flop. It’s because they haven’t teed up their audience early enough with something like:
‘I’ll be answering questions at the end so put them in the chat box.’
It’s hard for listeners to think of questions immediately when they’re put on the spot. So repeat this a few times at different intervals throughout any meeting or presentation to avoid cringey silences.
4. Think conversation not speech
It’s easy to forget your audience when presenting online. If you’re lucky, you might have some people with their videos on, but often it can feel like presenting to a black hole.
The best presentations feel more like a cosy conversation than a one way speech. So, as well as getting your audience to do something every 6 minutes, keep them engaged by relating your content to things they’ve said or done:
‘You’ll like this tip, Sarah, because it speaks to your point about tone.’
‘This is useful for when you have a challenge with employee engagement, like Tony and Imran brought up in their breakout room.’
5. Don’t give up too soon
I used to be so relieved to get to the end of my presentations without screwing up, I’d end with something uninspiring like:
‘Well that’s all for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and thanks for coming.’
Talk about mood killer.
But it’s dangerous too for our audience’s perception of us. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman showed how experiences end hugely dictates how we remember them.
This is known as the peak-end rule. So save your best for last if you want to make a great impression – plan in detail what you’re going to say and do to end on a high.
Ideally give people something to do or experience – I get my Email Engagement audiences to fetch something that reminds them of a great email. Or write their key takeaway in the chat box.
What could you do?
I hope these tips help you give your presentations and meetings a fresh double shot of energy.