There have been a number of instances where a serious interview was being conducted on a national network and the interview was disrupted by a child running into the room seeking attention, or a cat walking across the keyboard in search of a scratch, or the speaker had business attire only from the waist up. These incidents have been shown over and over on mainstream or social media. With so many more people working and meeting remotely, these unexpected interruptions will only multiply. Since you can’t count on an interruption, here are some tips to keep your virtual audience engaged.
Tip 1: Embrace the unexpected.
How people react to these scenarios can enhance the human connection and increase the chance of your audience having a favorable impression of you. It will certainly make your presentation/meeting memorable!
Tip 2: Plan audience interactions.
Many studies have shown that the average attention span is 18-20 minutes. Attention starts to wane the closer it gets to the 20-minute mark without changing things up. So, plan your points of interactions with strategically placed polls, Q&A’s, chats, and small group breakout sessions. Make sure to have them report back to the whole group about what they accomplished in their breakouts.
Tip 3: Turn on your camera.
Turn your camera on so they can see your expressions and gestures. People tend to pay more attention when they can see and hear clearly. In addition, having your camera on adds another connection to your audience.
Tip 4: Keep your visuals simple and clean.
It will encourage your audience to listen to you rather than reading data heavy or self-explanatory visuals.
Tip 5: Make eye contact with the camera.
Pretend there’s someone you know on the other side of the lens. The audience will feel like you’re speaking directly to them. Since so many people are quarantined, it’s interesting to watch celebrities, sports figures, and governors being interviewed. The contrast between those who look at their camera and those whose eyes are darting around is startling!
Tip 6: Be aware of your physical background.
What details can the audience see about the room you’re in? Your space tells a story and you can bet your audience is checking out pictures, artwork, décor, paint colors and/or wallpaper. Also have a light facing you rather than behind you. If there’s only a light behind you, it will darken you and make it harder to see your expressions and gestures.
These are just a few tips you can do to encourage audience engagement
Bonus Tip: Practice your content out loud and record yourself.
Saying your content out loud a few times will make you less apt to stumble over your content. And by all means, tell them what the key message is you want them to know, do, feel, or believe.
These are just a few of the tips, skills and insights you’ll experience in Communispond’s Virtual Presentation Skills™ (VPS) course. If you’re interested in increasing the attention, retention, and engagement of your remote audiences, visit our Solutions tab for information on VPS as a corporate and public seminar offering.
About the Author
Jim Moushon is a Senior Master Trainer at Communispond. Jim’s areas of expertise are in executive coaching, presentation skills, media interviews, persuasive dialogue, interpersonal communication, business writing and sales effectiveness. In addition, he does train-the-trainer for Communispond as well as for many of Communispond’s clients.