4 Recommendations for Presenting Virtually

By: Art Shore, Minneapolis Business Mentors.


As someone who has taught effective PowerPoint skills for over 20 years, there are fads that come and go every few years. As we enter into 2022 I see posts showing up about slide design trends for the new year. There are indeed challenges we need to address in the 'new normal' but overall some things don’t change when it comes to designing slide presentations.


Presenting Virtually

The biggest change and challenge we’ve all had to adapt to is presenting virtually. We Zoom, Skype, Teams and Meet. We present using slides into a “Brady Bunch” setting looking at our audience (or a black box with just a name in it), ourselves (this is the only setting where we see ourselves presenting on camera) and try to get our content across. It can be daunting and frustrating especially when there are technical issues.


So what are some of the things we can do to make our presentations more effective in the virtual environment?.


Recommendations

Here are 4 easy to implement recommendations.


1. Simplicity

In my PowerPoint workshops I use 3 quotes to get across the need for slides to be simple:

  • Einstein said, “Make things are simple as possible, but not simpler.”

  • DaVinci, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

  • Jonathon Ive, former Apple Chief of Design said it best, “Simplicity is the elimination of clutter.”

Learning Point: Keep your slide design simple. Don’t overcrowd each slide with words and bulletpoints. Use more slides if necessary. It’s not the number of slides that’s an issue, it’s the mind-numbing of them. Reduce each slide to its core idea. Constantly ask yourself, “Do I really need to add this?' If the answer is “Yes,” challenge yourself again. If your slides can double as your handout - you are doing something wrong.

2. Less Text More Images

Overcomplicated slides went out 20 years ago but you wouldn’t know it if you view just about any business PowerPoint. I saw a stat that said 35% of millennials say they will only engage with content they feel has a great story or theme. My feeling is when you show a slide, the audience should be saying to themselves, “I wonder what the presenter is going to say?” Not only does this engage the listener, but it keeps the focus on you the presenter.


Learning Point: To avoid throwing your audience into the arms of Morpheus, use visuals to control your narrative.

3. Platinum Rule

Remember the Golden Rule? “Do unto others as they would do unto you.” I recommend we use the Platinum Rule when it comes to presentations. “Do unto others as they want to be done unto.” For slides, it’s “don’t design a presentation you’d never sit through.” If you think your slides are boring - you’re right. Do something about it.


Learning Point: Ask yourself how would your react if you were sitting through this presentation? Do you use a structure that takes your audience on a journey that’s interesting, visual, engaging?

4. Size Matters

Something really different is we used to present in a classroom, boardroom, or meeting room on large screens or LCD panels. Today we present to people who are viewing our content on computer screens of all sizes, or tablets, or smartphones.


What does that mean for our presentations? You need to design your slides for viewing on any size screen. If your presentation is going to be seen on a YouTube video at some point, something to consider is 99% of people will access it through a mobile device. This means your font size will probably need to be a lot larger than you’re currently using.


Learning Point: Have you looked at your slides on different size devices? If not, do it before your next presentation. Consider that as viewing screen size goes down, your font size will need to go up.


Summary

These are just 4 ideas to consider when as you prepare to present. I could get into the use color, contrast, line spacing, transitions, animations etc., but I’ll discuss those in future post.


If you need some ideas with your presentations, contact me at: art.shore@mbmentors.org. or visit us at www.mbmentors.org we are an all-volunteer non-profit here to help you with your business needs.


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