I was having a Zoom lunch (non-messy disappears quickly!) with my wonderful mentor and friend, Andrew. I was telling him that business was going surprisingly well… Then he did what every good mentor should do (particularly when you're getting a little cocky), challenged me. “You doing all these virtual sessions, you must have learnt quite a few new things..?”
Me, “Um, um um… Oh um…”
Andrew, “Come on, what have you learnt? What’s the new stuff? What have been those lightbulb moments?”
Me, “Um well um….”
And of course I have learnt a huge amount. I just couldn’t articulate it there and then. And this new stuff is pretty important because the world of business communication has changed forever. How forever? One large media agency client has gone from running 10% of it's training online in 2019 to running a projected 90% of training online in 2021 - regardless of how many people return to the office.
People talk how about how Covid has shot us forward five years. I disagree. Its more that online communication has moved from battling uphill to accelerating forward on a smooth flat virtual plane. Even in the last two weeks both Microsoft Teams and Zoom have made big improvements to their platforms.
So here are the 10 new things I’ve learnt about virtual presenting since lockdown.
1) Humour is still right up there as a one of the best (and cheapest) tools for winning over an audience. Lots of people get put off by the fact they can’t see their audience. Don’t. It's a bit like producing a comedy for Netflix – just because you don’t have a studio audience doesn’t mean you should stop trying, and it won’t stop something being funny. Give it a go. Even if it raises no more than a smile your presentation will still be 100 times better than the plod, plod, plod of a competitor’s death by virtual PowerPoint!
2) This is just the beginning. Look at gamers, with multi cameras, commentating, playing and then producing the whole experience live for their fans. It’s another level. In virtual presenting and events there is so much to learn and discover. Check out Mmhmm https://www.mmhmm.app.
3) Don’t get trapped by technology. Remember it's the human being at the end of the camera who will ultimately sell your presentation not the hi def camera! Best bit of kit I've bought since lockdown? An old flipchart. People love it.
4) Saying that, if you present regularly, invest in decent camera (best value is the C922 Logi), decent microphone (best value is the Yeti), good broadband and lighting! If you spend 3 hours a day talking to people via Teams why would you have a rubbishy microphone where people can only understand every other word!?
5) I’ve used so many different platforms. Zoom is the best. Next in line is BlueJeans. However, there are brash bright newcomers hurtling up through the field (see Mmhmm) - while many of the big boys like Webex have massively upped their game - see the new Teams Dynamic. www.microsoft.com
6) Remember your presentation is a short interlude in an 8 hour day of someone looking at a screen. Grab your audience, pull them away from their emails and make them a promise that the next 30 minutes or so with you is time well spent. There are a hundred different ways of doing it – from green screen to warm up games to interactive tools to just being obviously transparent and homemade. The key is get them involved as soon as possible!
7) You are chatting to someone in their home. It changes everything. Recognise and respect this while also using it to your advantage. Informal, fun and natural versus corporate and straight.
8) Use interactive tools like Slido, Kahoot or Vevox alongside your presentation platform.
9) Fewer slides. The thinking before lockdown was more slides are required for virtual presentations than face to face. Wrong. Same as face to face. Less is more.
10) This really is the beginning. We’re not going back. If you didn’t think HS2 was a giant white elephant you do now. Previously I’ve commuted in and out of London for a single 30 minute face to face meeting. I don’t think that’s going to be happening any more. As the technology and our confidence in it improves, so the experience for presenter and audience will leap forward – and the long commute from Manchester to London for a one hour meeting will feel like something from the age of dinosaurs.
I'll share a few of these at my next free taster on September 16th. There's still some places available so why not book yourself or one of your team a place? http://standupanddeliver.co.uk/taster-sessions