Digital communication is more essential than ever before. Virtual event organizers plan to invest 55% more time and revenue into their 2021 events because digital speakers are such a popular way for people to learn new skills. The progress made many people begin to wonder about how to succeed in online public speaking.
Public speaking occurs more in digital spaces now because it’s more accessible and affordable. Even with the many benefits, it’s a significant pain point for business leaders and innovators because it requires a transition to software programs and skills they may not have used before.
Overcoming fears related to public speaking and digital presentations will help you make the greatest impact with your virtual events. Here are the best secrets to success of public speaking online so everyone benefits from gathering in your digital conference room.
Choose Your Background Wisely
Even the most entertaining speakers won’t have a successful presentation if their background is distracting. Your environment and lighting play a significant role in the viewer’s ability to focus on what you’re saying. If they can’t see you very well or only recognize the pile of laundry on the chair behind you, they won’t tune into your message or take you seriously.
There are a few ways to make your background support your next public speaking event. Clean the room or the area directly in front of your camera. Remove any clutter that takes up space. You should also practice speaking into the camera to review the lighting, so everyone can see your face clearly without any overt brightness or dark shadows taking over the screen.
Use this checklist to prep your background before your next event:
- Clean and remove any clutter.
- Check how the lighting affects your appearance on video.
- Note any visual distractions behind you.
As the world shut down in the spring of 2020, former President Barack Obama gave a commencement address with a simple and professional background. A white bookshelf held straightened books and a few colorful pieces of decor that gave a pop of color without covering the shelves or distracting viewers. It’s an example of how you can use your existing furniture to create an effective presentation background without requiring a blank wall.
Dress the Part
You might feel relaxed while giving a speech from your home office or living room, but you should still dress appropriately for the presentation. You’d never show up to an in-person event in a professional button-down over sweatpants and slippers.
Review your wardrobe and stock up on business casual essentials so you’re always ready for virtual public speaking events. It’s one of the simplest tips for public speaking online that people often forget. Consider how each piece of clothing helps your appearance by asking questions like:
- Is this color too bright on screen?
- Does this pattern create a strange optical effect?
- Are there any wrinkles that stand out in the room’s lighting?
If you give a presentation at a formal event, it’s always easy to transform business casual into something more professional. Add a blazer or classic piece of statement jewelry to amp up your look for any virtual speech.
Consider Posture, Gestures, and Eye Contact
Sometimes body language communicates more directly than words because it’s how you make your first impression. People will notice how you pick at your fingernails or cross your arms and assume you don’t want to be there with them. If you don’t maintain eye contact with your camera instead of your screen, you’ll appear dodgy and uncomfortable.
Even slouching while giving a presentation commands less respect than if you were upright and energized. Practicing your speech is one of the best virtual public speaking tips. Whether you record yourself and review your video or ask a friend to watch you rehearse, remember helpful body language tips such as:
- Use animated hand gestures.
- Smile to convey your energy.
- Minimize pacing to remain engaging and not nervous.
You might need time to rehearse effective body language and eye contact so it becomes second nature while you’re in front of an audience. Daily practice makes it easier to communicate without words and transform your public speaking events into more effective meetings.
Speak Slowly, Concisely, and With Appropriate Pauses
No one enjoys listening to someone who sounds like they’re reading from a script. It’s a lifeless presentation that doesn’t use the natural voice inflections that keep people engaged. The best way to avoid this problem is to speak slowly but remember your goals.
Your presentation might aim to convey three main points. Keep them in mind to drive your thought process and reduce the mistakes that come from feeling scattered or directionless.
You’ll quickly recover if you misspeak or forget to say something because you’ll know the purpose behind each point. If this happens, go back to your previous point or transition to the next topic and follow up on your forgotten topic during your final summary.
Pausing is also critical for anyone who wants to know how to succeed in online public speaking. Your audience will need a moment to process and reflect on your points. Insert pauses where they are most effective, like:
- Before repeating yourself
- Before switching subjects
- Before delivering a punch line or conclusion
Use pauses sparingly to avoid boring your audience or confusing them. A few moments to think are more than enough to convey your message and deepen audience engagement.
Practice Ahead of Time
Practicing is one of the best things to do to get more comfortable on camera. If you’re nervous about talking in front of people or presenting live, recording your video presentation will help you practice and learn. If you record your presentation, use the video editor to clean it up for re-use and use sections to create short mini-lessons
Record your speech and play it back to look for areas of improvement. This is where you’ll catch issues related to body language, pausing, or even lighting. You can also share recorded videos with trusted people who can provide you helpful feedback. Edit your videos with tools that improve your presentation. Add a transition for a seamless change between topics or add helpful text to emphasize sections of your video.
Recording your presentation gives you a unique opportunity to learn about yourself. You’ll never wonder how you appear on camera, what you sound like, or if your background distracts people when you can become an audience member while viewing your recordings.
Be Unique and Engaging
Anyone can stand in front of a camera and talk, but audience members want their speakers to be engaging. Part of that begins with learning about your audience so you feel like you know them. Ask yourself essential questions like:
- Is your presentation content brand new to your listeners?
- How will they use your presentation to improve their lives?
- Why did they sign up for your speech?
When you start with the appropriate background consideration of your intended audience, go one step further by framing the presentation from their perspective. Make sure you’re engaging with the audience by speaking a common language — using the vocabulary of their work culture or industry — and explaining how your tips or presented information can uniquely benefit them. Frame your interactions for a more impactful presentation by working engagement into PowerPoint presentations through FAQ or feedback slides. Merge visual cues with verbal communication to create a well-rounded approach to audience interaction.
Use Active Listening Skills
Excellent public speakers also know how to listen. Active listening is even more critical in a virtual setting because people won’t voice questions as easily as they could in a traditional conference room.
Virtual listening skills require more thought and patience. While asking for questions during your presentation, remember to turn your microphone off so audience members don’t have to fight your background noise to address their concerns.
You can also encourage people to use chat messages to ask questions. Although you won’t hear your audience, it gives them a direct way to interact with you and make the presentation more engaging. Without these skills, presenters may move forward with concepts or ideas while unintentionally leaving their listeners in a cloud of confusion.
Utilize Virtual Public Speaking Tips
These are some of the best tips for public speaking online, so use them as your secrets to success. Practice on camera to refine your presentation, remember to ask for feedback and plan the most minor details that may affect your on-screen appearance. With a bit of thought and planning, you’ll overcome any fears related to virtual presentations and enjoy interacting with people who want to hear what you have to say.