3 Technology Tips for Presenting to Live & Virtual Audiences

Last Updated on April 25, 2017

As we discussed in our previous post, there are 5 crucial factors that separate good from bad sessions, and the first is Technology.

“Really Nikos? Out of all factors to consider, technology is that important that you have decided to devote the first blog post to it?”

The answer is yes and let me explain why.

The importance of watching & listening well

Every audience in the world -whether they are enjoying a live concert, a theatrical play, a TED event or a virtual live session- need to check 2 “features” at a satisfactory level: image & sound.

Of course, the quality of the performance is important. Of course, the speaker’s ability to engage their audience is crucial, but everything comes second if the quality of the sound & image is poor.

If an audience cannot see or listen to the speaker properly, it’s really easy to become disengaged, bored or even worse, annoyed.

To prove this, all I have to do is ask you to think about the last time you had a virtual call where the other side was freezing and you were receiving the sound with just 2 seconds lag time. Or the last time you were present in a meeting-room presentation and the speaker was hiding the screen with their bodies. Did you feel that you had to try hard to participate & respond to the presentation, or worse yet, did you lose interest in the presentation as a whole?

Exactly, this is what happens when technology hasn’t been tested prior to the session.

Let’s start from the beginning.

Make it comfortable for your audience

There are few things that you should/can do prior to your presentation:

  1. Arrive earlier & check the stage.
    It’s really important to familiarize yourself with the place before the time of your speech. Make sure you get there earlier, if possible, the previous day*, get on stage, check the available space for walking, the spots with enough light to stand and the ones you should avoid.

    *disclaimer: those tips are general presentation ones, not solely addressing web presentations. Feel free to make the analogy for the web environment, if the piece of advice addresses a presentation at the physical location.
  2. Check the microphone, speakers, laptop, projector & pointer.
    You have to make sure your microphone is transmitting your voice and the speakers are loud enough for every member of the audience to hear you. Connect your laptop to the projector, connect your pointer (if you use one) and make sure all of them are working properly together.
  3. Run through your presentation.
    You got to do it, it’s as simple as that. Make sure the graphics play well, the videos start on time and your presentation can reach the end without any issues. At the same time, take advantage of the occasion and practice your presentation by doing exactly what you’re about to do the next time you’ll go on stage.
  4. Engage a member of your audience.
    One of the first things you should do when you start a presentation is to make sure that you’re fine – technologically-wise. What you can do is ask someone from the audience (a friend, a colleague or anyone really who seems trustable) to give you a signal that everything’s fine. Of course, you can always ask the audience directly if they can watch & listen you well.

Extra tip: Step into your audience’s shoes.

What I usually do, is ask someone to speak on stage while I try to sit at different seats of the audience. This way, I check myself the quality of the sound & image that the audience receives and try to perceive the stage from their perspective. The same applies for meeting rooms, only this time I sit in every chair to make sure I won’t be hiding the presentation with my body.

Virtual Sessions – Same mindset, different tips

Similar factors apply to virtual sessions, but now you can only set-up your end, and must cooperate with the other side to fix any potential problems.

  1. Connect via ethernet cable (UTP).
    Yes, your Wi-Fi is super fast and yes, you have a strong signal, but really… How many times did you have to restart/reset it cause it had become super-slow? Hmm…
  2. Make sure you have a proper internet connection.
    Tools like Speedtest can help you measure your internet speed. Every connection with at least 2Mbps download and 1Mbps upload bandwidth works fine for a video call.
  3. Check that your webcam, microphone & speakers are working.
    Not much to say here. Here you can check them all in 10-sec. Seems obvious, but it’s an important step to follow, especially if the device you’re about to use is not yours.
  4. Find a spot with enough light.
  5. Check your presentation.
    If you want to use a presentation, you will need to screen-share. This means there may be a chance people won’t have your video-view all the time. This is also one of the reasons why we have integrated the video feature in our platform. Now students can see both the mentor and their presentation at the same time, and get the most out of every video session.
  6. Have a test call.
    If you don’t try it, you can’t know. Make sure that you test, at least one time, the platform you plan to be using for your video presentation. It is important that you familiarize yourself with all its features – same as the stage.

Having a test call, together with a Connectivity Checklist, is part of our training process. It’s one of the many checkpoints (next blog-post) we use to keep our quality standards high.  

To close this post, I’d like to share with you a final insight:

Virtual sessions have a big disadvantage compared to the physical ones: it’s more difficult to feel the vibe in the room. But, if you’re a beginner in public speaking, the same disadvantage can play well: it’s more difficult for the audience to feel your nervousness or anxiety. Plus, you can enjoy the convenience of your desk or home and be more relaxed.

Put these tips to use in classrooms & mentor sessions

Whether you’re teaching a class, giving a TEDtalk, or hosting a mentor session on a platform, put these tips to use to ensure you’re getting your message across. 100mentors is the platform and network empowering students to connect with mentors on-demand to guide them in their most important academic and career decisions. With 100mentors, schools enable students to open up their circles of influence to include mentors from 300+ universities and 500+ companies across the world. Ready to mentor and empower students? Get started below.

This is one part of a 6-part series, highlighting the must-knows of presenting and public speaking.

To catch up on the rest of the series, check out: Part 1 of 6: 5 Ways to Conquer Your Public Speaking FearsPart 3 of 6: 5 Tips to Avoid Death by PowerPointPart 4 of 6: 4 Ways to Use Body Language to Be Perceived as a Friendly & Influential Speaker & Part 5 of 6: 3 Ways to Actively Engage Your Audience When Presenting.

Nikos gets out of bed every morning to bridge the gap between formal education and 'paideia' (values, attitudes & role-models). He delivers experiential workshops to people who want to develop their public-speaking skills. At 100mentors, he helps Student Recruitment Officers connect with top-students worldwide.

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