Delivering Virtual Presentations: Strategies for Success | Beth Mueller | Skillshare

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Delivering Virtual Presentations: Strategies for Success

teacher avatar Beth Mueller, Discovery + Story

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Class + Project Overview


    • 3.

      Build Your Strategy


    • 4.

      Connect With Your Audience


    • 5.

      Build Memorable Messages


    • 6.

      Optimize Your Sound + Video


    • 7.

      Sharing Your Slides


    • 8.

      Practice + Plan for Challenges


    • 9.

      Class Project


    • 10.

      Parting Thoughts


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About This Class

Do you need to present pitches, project updates, and other topics virtually but aren’t sure the best way to do it? Are you wondering if your audience is paying attention to you or multi-tasking while you’re talking? Are you asking yourself how some people seem to own the screen when they’re presenting on WebEx, Zoom, GoTo Meeting, Skype, or other digital platforms and how you can be more like them? If you present online in the same way that you do in person, you’re missing out on opportunities to get your message across, connect with your audience, and meet your business goals.

In this class, I will show you that the distance between you and your audience is up to you to decide! We’ll also review  several tools you can use to improve the way you come across verbally, vocally, and visually when you present online to make a stronger connection with your customers, teams, and other audiences to get the business results you want. In the class, we’ll also walk through  how to build a message that connects with your audience, improve your audio and video to best deliver that message, and plan for technical challenges as you practice for success. This class challenges you to think beyond your slide deck to become a more effective presenter, and I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned in my 15 years working with companies and individuals so that you will leave this class feeling more comfortable and confident presenting your ideas virtually and achieve your business goals.

Meet Your Teacher

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Beth Mueller

Discovery + Story


Stories are powerful – I knew I wanted to be a writer when I got goosebumps after my second grade teacher read us Where the Sidewalk Ends.  Since then, I earned a degree in teaching creative writing and published my own work. I also have a marketing degree and have combined business strategy and creative writing to help companies communicate for more than a decade. My newest adventure is Discovery + Story, where I give free resources and tips to help small business owners take their communications to the next level. Check it out at

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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: the ability to clearly delivering our message both in person and virtually is critical to driving business results today. Hi, I'm Beth Miller. For the last 15 years, I have helped individuals at all levels from Fortune 500 companies, senior executives to individual contributors to both clearly develop and craft a compelling message and also deliver that in the most effective way, I've coached people through a variety of situations, from presenting to investors to being interviewed by reporters, rolling out a new project or strategy within their teams, or even participating in a panel discussion. I have degrees in teaching, creative writing and and marketing, and I've been able to combine my passion for business strategy and storytelling to help companies share their own stories for more than a decade through my years. In doing this, I've narrowed it down to a few key things that you can really work on to greatly enhance your ability to deliver your message when we present. We all have three sets of tools that we can pull from to greatly influence our ability to connect with our audiences, to persuade them, inform them and motivate Hm. The problem is, most of us never learned how to use thes sets of tools differently when presenting virtually. And if we just take what we do offline and bring that online, we're really missing out on an opportunity to really connect with our audience. If you're watching this class, then you're someone who recognizes that there is a gap. You are someone who instinctively knows there must be a better way to get your idea across , but you just might not know where to start in this class. I'm gonna teach you several actionable ways that you can take advantage of online platforms to add value. Better connect with your audience is and have a greater chance of success in meeting your business goals. Specifically, we're gonna talk through how to build a message that connects with your audience. Improve your audio and video to best deliver that message and plan for technical challenges is you plan for success. The bottom line is that you are gonna walk away from this presentation, understanding that the distance between you and your audience is up to you to decide. So let's get started 2. Class + Project Overview: I am so glad you joined the class together. We're gonna walk through a series of techniques that you can use Teoh, increase your chances of connecting with your audience and getting your ideas across. In each lesson. We're gonna do some instruction. I'll share some examples and then I'll give you an exercise that you can apply what you've learned into your day to day work. Remember, we're all about action in this class, so I want you leaving with the Siris of tangible steps that you can actually use on your very next presentation. Speaking of your next presentation will talk through in this class. How critical those first couple of minutes are to your success when presenting virtually people are easily distracted when they're at their computers and likely multitasking. So we need to hook them in right from the start and give them a reason to pay attention to us from start to finish. So for your class project, you're going to take the techniques that we talk about in this class and write out your 60 to 92nd introduction. This could be for a really or hypothetical presentation, and it's going to allow you to get some feedback from myself and your fellow students to make sure that you're really hooking our audience in from the start, we're gonna talk through a formula that you can use to write out that 60 to 92nd introduction during the class to help you. We've also created a workbook that you could download and use as you take the class. This has space for you to write out your responses for each of the exercises, so you can keep everything in one place and make it easier for you to do your next presentation and the class project. Once you download that, join me in the next lesson where we'll talk through the three sets of tools that we need to plan for in order to set ourselves up for success with our presentations. 3. Build Your Strategy: knowledge is power. And because we are strategic and deliberate communicators, we plan on our presentations in advance. Now, I'm not just talking about outlining what it is that you're going to say or creating a few slides 2% in this last one. We're gonna talk through all of the things that we need to know. To ensure that we set ourselves up for success with our presentation, you might have heard that research has shown that we have three distinct areas that impact our ability to communicate an idea with an audience. And that's visual, vocal and verbal. Oftentimes, the biggest factor influencing how an audience perceives our presentations falls in that visual bucket. This includes our body language, things like eye contact gestures and the energy that we bring to a conversation. The next important areas vocal. And that includes volume intonation, paste in other areas, about how people hear us. The third area is verbal, and this covers the actual words that we say our credentials establishing common ground in terms of importance. One study actually found that visual accounts for 55% oven audiences impression of us, with vocal accounting for 38% and verbal Onley actually counting for 7% now. This particular study has been disputed because it doesn't account for different scenarios in which he presents. So, for example, when you're presenting online, the vocal component might have a greater weight because their audience needs to be able to clearly understand what it is that we're saying. But the take away I want you to have here is that our presentations are so much more than just the words that we say we have these different areas that we need to factor in to really influence, how our audience perceives us and our ability to get the results that we want. Ultimately, visual, vocal and verbal are the three ways that we can emotionally connect with our audience. And this is really important because our audience needs to trust us, find this credible and approachable and feel our energy. This could be accomplished when we pay attention to these three areas, because these air the ways that our audiences are paying attention to us as they ultimately take in what we're saying and decide what actions they want to take, if any, since these form the overall impression that our audience hands of us. When we speak, we need to factor each of them in mind as we plan on our presentation. So how do we do those? I've developed a framework to help us plan out and structure our presentations for success . The first step is getting very clear and specific about our goal for presentation. So here are some common business goals that you might have with your presentation, one you might want to educate, so that could be explaining a new product or service or introducing your company to a new customer. Or you might want to persuade. And that's about changing minds or explaining why a customer should pick you versus the competitors. Er, maybe you want to motivate, and that's inspiring your team rolling out a new strategy. Delivering a keynote. Maybe you want to take action so that might be approving a budget request or signing up for a webinar or some other action that you want your audience to take after you speak. If you're following along in the workbook, their space in there for you to define your goal, for example, your next virtual presentation might be a regular monthly update that you provide to your department about a project that you manage rather than defined your goal as provided Project Update. I want to challenge you to dig a little further. Depending on the circumstances, your goal might be any one of these. Maybe your goals around motivation. Maybe you want to inspire your team to think through how they can use your project findings in their work. Or maybe it's just taking action. Well, you could have multiple goals. I want you to narrow it down to one. Which one is gonna have the biggest impact on your business? Once you've your call to find, we next need to examine our audience that we can figure out how to get them from point A to point B and accomplish that goal in the next last one. We're gonna talk through exactly how to do this. I'll see you there 4. Connect With Your Audience: So at this point, we have a clearly defined goal for a presentation, and I want to talk through right now, a mistake that I see people commonly make at this point. And that's jumping right into the words that you want to say or thinking about the slides that you want to present, but not us, because we're smart communicators. And we know that as presenters, everything is about connecting with and serving our audience because that's where great presentations really begin. We need to get inside their heads, so I want you to think about creating an audience avatar for your next presentation. If you're following along in the workbook, you can use the audience avatar planning worksheet. That's an end. These are the questions I want you to think through. Will your audience know anything about you coming in? If so, what? Is your audience open to your idea or goal, or do you need to convince them? What objections or concerns are they likely to come in with What questions will they have? What are the input that they need to make a decision? What are their hopes and goals? What's in it for your audience? Most importantly, your audience might have one avatar or you might create multiple ones. If your audience is gonna have different characteristics, the more time that you spent on this step, the better off you're gonna be once we actually create your next presentation. Once you're done with this, join me in the next lesson where we're going to start pulling together the verbal components of our next presentation and crafting a message that's really going to resonate with this audience and served, um, and get us the results that were looking for. 5. Build Memorable Messages: Okay, so now that we have the goal that we want to accomplish and we know who our audience is, we can start to build out messages that are going to help us get there. In this lesson, we're gonna talk step by step through the process to do this. If we think about our presentations like a story where we have a beginning, a middle and an end, the beginning is where I want you to spend the most amount of time preparing when we present virtually we need to realize that our audience is more distracted than if we were in the same room. So we need to hook them from that start and give them a reason to pay attention to us. We do this by establishing common ground. We want to explain what is in it for them right away and what they're going to get out of the presentation. We also want to explain why we are credible and why were the right person to deliver that message to them. One of the best ways I found to do this is to create your take away statement. Now, this is one sentence very short, memorable its decisive It's tight year goal and essentially your bottom line. Sometimes people build out their presentations. Chronological. Where you walk, you're onions through your topic. Homeless is if you're building a case and then you're ending is either what you want your audience to know or dio. So based on my experience, you actually are almost always gonna be more effective. If you flip that and you incorporate your key, take away into the 1st 60 to 90 seconds of your presentation, because that's when the audience is really paying attention to us. That's when they're deciding if they're gonna listen to us talk or if they're gonna flip through emails on their phone by putting your bottom line first and really putting all of your focus on it. You then have an opportunity in the rest of your presentation to either support that or prove it to your audience. So the formula to help you develop a memorable opening Let's walk through each of these components. Number one. I want you to tell the audience what's in it for them and show that you recognize what their concerns and questions are use The audience average her planning worksheet to help with us two. I want you to give your key take away, and that's the one thing that you want your audience to walk away with. Then I want you to explain why your audience that listen to you by sharing your background or credentials. And then, finally, I want you to explain how you're going to structure your speech after we deliver our quick 60 to 92nd opening. We want to get into the content as quickly as possible. We can use stories, data and other pieces of information to support our bottom line based on what we know about our audience. So what do we need to explain to them to overcome their objections or answer their questions so that we guide them to that end goal that we want? The next step is to map out what these supporting messages will look like. And as you're building these out, I want to encourage you to structure these as stories whenever possible, because our brains are wired to remember and tell stories, so it helps your audience connect with your point Better. You can do this by creating a picture or sharing specific details. Really avoid those abstract ideas. Incorporate the five senses. So as an example, rather than saying to a prospective client that you have a dedicated customer service team who's always available for them, we could instead paint a picture. Maybe we say something like Imagine it's 2 a.m. and you're finishing up a big project. He and your three cups of coffee have worn off, and you're looking forward to falling into bed once you wrap up those final details, and that's when you run into a problem, you're under a deadline, and you have to get it fixed. Assume it's possible that our product, you're gonna be able to call our dedicated customer service team, which is a group of experts trained in every aspect of our product, and they're available 24 7 So they're going to stay on the phone with you until the issue is resolved. If you use a story, you have an opportunity to really make that connection with your perspective client and make it about that for the end of your presentation, I want you to simply due to things Number one. I want you to repeat your key, take away from the beginning and number two, I want you to end on a call to action. It should be unmistakably clear for your audience what it is that you want them to think or do after you're done talking. Now, if building messages like this is new for you, it might seem a little challenging at first. Keep practicing, and I promise it gets a lot easier. And remember, if you get stock or have a question ask, you can either pose a question in the discussion for this class. We're feel free to send me an email directly when you feel good about where your messages air at, Join me in the next lesson where we're going to start to think through the most effective way to deliver that message online. 6. Optimize Your Sound + Video: So now that we know what we want to say in order to accomplish our goals, we need to make sure that we're being the best messengers that we can be in order to deliver them. Remember earlier, I had mentioned that there are three sets of tools that we have to connect with your audience. The actual words that we say are important. But how we say it is also critical to our success for us to connect with our audience. We also need to pay attention to the way we sound and our body language. Basically our nonverbal and verbal messages need to align is for a sound goes. It's really important that your audience can hear you, particularly when you're presenting virtually so. If you can do a test with your computer in advance and try out a few different ways, maybe you want to try using a headset with your phone or using the microphone on your computer. I want to give you three tips that you can use to sound better when you're presenting online number one. As faras volume goes, I would encourage you to establish your standard volume as your natural volume plus a little bit louder now. Occasionally, you might want to use an even louder volume to emphasize a particular point or show your excitement over something. Number two. The pace that you speak out is also important. Now, for the most part again, you're going to speak at your natural pace, but you might want to speaks lowers well in certain places. So, for example, if you're explaining a new concept or something very technical, or if you want to communicate a message that's particularly serious or sad third, your intonation plays a big role in your ability to successfully deliver your message. Now there are two types of intonation rising and falling. Now, rising intonation is when you send a sentence up and is usually used when you're asking a question. Falling intonation is when you end down and can be useful when you're stating fax or giving a direction. And we want to try to vary these normally as we talk, because if we don't we risk sounding monotone and the audience going to tune us out. From a visual perspective, one of the most important elements that we can do is maintain strong direct eye contact throughout our virtual presentation. Now I wanted to look directly at your camera, and if you can think about it like you're talking to a family member or friend now to help you with this, you might even want to take a picture of a family member or friend behind your camera to help remind you of where you're supposed to look. This also helps avoid the kind of looking around which some of us have a tendency to dio, because looking around and kind breaking that I contact can signal to our audience that we're not sure about what we're saying or were not credible. Now keep in mind that direct eye contact can vary by different cultures, so make sure you adjust accordingly for your particular audience. I also want you to step your camera at eye level, prop it up on books, or adjust your chair height, whatever you need to do so that you're looking directly into the camera. From a physical perspective, we want to maintain good posture and also try to fill our space to the extent we can. So you might need to adjust where your computer is so that you feel more the slaves, and there's less background whenever possible. I want you to stand when you're presenting, even virtually. We just moved differently when we stand, and we have a more commanding presence. Now, if you must set, make sure that you sit forward in your chair. Don't slouch. Put your elbows or your arms on their table in front of you because those might signal to your financed they're not engaged in the topic. Keep in mind that you have lots of tools available to experiment with to deliver an effective message that connects with your audience. So experiment with hand gestures or facial expressions or smiling, or any of these other things that really show your energy. Set a good tone. Establish your credibility and help emphasize different points while you're talking. Make sure you keep it natural, but don't be afraid to practice other ways of doing it and see what you like. If you really want to get better at those, I highly recommend that you video yourself practicing your presentation and see what your natural body movements look like. Now I know it could be hard to watch ourselves on video, but you can almost always gain at least one or two really good insights to help you become a stronger presenter, which is why we're all here. This is your homework for this last one. I want you to set up your space, keeping these tips in mind. And if you have a few minutes, do a quick practice meeting on Zoom or WebEx or whichever platform you normal use to see what looks best. See what you like. This could be fun if you let it be. The visual and vocal elements of public speaking are usually what we are the most critical of in ourselves. But there are also some of the easiest areas to improve. And if you commit to wanting to become a better presenter and set yourself apart, is a really strong virtual presenter. Then pick one thing from these lists and keep practising. Once you feel good with that one, move on to another one. When you're ready. Join me in the next lesson where we're gonna talk through some techniques that you could use to make really great slides 7. Sharing Your Slides: Okay, so let's talk about slides. I know that for a lot of companies, giving a presentation is synonymous with putting together a really detailed flight deck. So I want to talk through Slide specifically in this lesson is these complain really big role in your ability to connect visually with your audience, and specifically, we're going to talk through three potential approaches you could use in your next virtual presentation. First of all, I would challenge you to think about whether you need to have slides during your actual presentation at all. Now I know this probably seems like an easy answer for some of you, especially if your company culture is one that really prioritizes by its for every meeting . And it seems to be all that your boss cares about. I have definitely been there, but is there another way to think about it? Could you instead send it as a pre read or maybe as a follow up after the presentation, as a leave behind with a strong called action in your email? The reason, I ask, is because when we're presenting, remember that we want to think through the best way to use our vocal visual and verbal tools to help us deliver our message and connect with their audience. And if you're presenting virtually and you share your screen, your audience is probably going to see your slides larger on the screen, and you lose some of your ability to use your visual tools like eye contact, smiling or hand gestures. But I do realize that there are many times when slides are necessary. Most importantly, you want to make sure that a slide fits into your story. Our slides are the last thing we want to develop after we've thought through and built out . Our message is based on the most effective way to server audience. Accomplished our business goal for the slides themselves. Stick to one key, take away or point per slide. Highlight it, draw a circle around it. Whatever you need to do to make it super clear what you want your audience to know from that one slide, make the words large and limit the number of words that you have on a side and make sure that any graphs or tables or pictures are large enough to see if you can highlight a specific row in a table or a part of a chart that they should pay attention to do that, too. Also, keep in mind that some people might be watching you from their phone. And so you also wanna look at your slides on your phone and test out what they look like. They're a swell. You want to make sure that your slides are enhancing and adding to your visual rather than being a distraction from you to contend with. 1/3 approach to handle slides a little bit more advanced, if possible, would be great to switch between sharing your slides on your screen and then turning them off and going back to having your audience watch you present on the video. Now this can be a little tricky to Dio, so you'll really need to practice at first to feel really confident in whichever online platform you're using to know how to share your screen and stop sharing your screen. The important thing is to make sure that you can maneuver this smoothly so that it takes no more than a couple of seconds to switch. If not, do not switch back and forth and just stick to sharing your screen next we're gonna talk through how you can walk into your next presentation, feeling really prepared and able to handle any technical challenges that might come up. 8. Practice + Plan for Challenges: So we already touched on the important role that practice complaint in helping you become a stronger virtual presenter. In this lesson, we're gonna drink a little deeper and talk through some specific tips that you can use. One tip is to start using video whenever possible to get you more comfortable, whether that's face time Skype, Facebook, live or whatever platform you like, get comfortable making eye contact and speaking at a good volume and all the other things we talked through in the class. This also helps us move past that cringe factor when we watch ourselves on screen. When it becomes more normal, we become more natural. When it comes to preparing for your presentation, you need to practice it out loud, not just in your head, even if you don't video yourself, because it sounds different when you deliver it out loud and you want to get comfortable with how it sounds and see if there any changes that you want to make to it. I am not a fan of memorizing your presentation for many reasons, but mostly because it has a tendency to come across as a little too rehearsed and audiences tend to have a negative reaction to that. Having said that, I would practice your 60 to 92nd opener over and over until you feel completely confident in it. I still wouldn't memorize it, word for word, but I would practice it so often that it's like as Moses in your Britain. Jim Quick, who's a really great speaker and presenter, has a really interesting technique that he teaches to help you memorize the flow of your presentation rather than the actual words that you say. And it's a similar technique as what he teaches actors to help them memorize really long lines of dialogue. Now I think it's a really good option if you want to check it out. When we're talking about virtual presentations, we also and be prepared for technical challenges and have backup plans in place. So some of the questions that I want you to scenario plan for our what happens if your video bomb play or if you're a main camera, goes out? What if your Internet goes out halfway through your presentation? What you gonna do to have your audience submit questions, Teoh. And if that way doesn't work, do you have a backup plan in the workbook, you have space to map out your different backup plans. Now, Hopefully, you won't need them. But just knowing that they exist, you're probably gonna feel more confident logging into your next presentation. Okay, so now we're done with all the lessons in this class. Up next, we're gonna talk through your class project and how you can apply a couple of the techniques we talked about to really create your killer opening. That's gonna hook your audience in and keep them interested. 9. Class Project: all right, class Project time. I want you to write out your 60 to 92nd introduction for an upcoming virtual presentation. If you don't feel comfortable doing it for an actual presentation that you have coming up, maybe you just don't feel comfortable or you confidential information in it. Then I've given you a series of hypothetical situations that you can pick from. Then upload a screen grab of your script to the Projects gallery so that both myself and your fellow students come give you some feedback. If you get stock, reach out. My goal is to make you feel as successful and confident as you possibly can for your next virtual presentation. So you can either pose a question in the discussion for this class so that both myself and your fellow students taking the class can reply or you can feel free to reach out to me directly through email. You can also check out the class Project worksheet, which has some additional tips. I cannot wait to see what she put together 10. Parting Thoughts: congratulations on making it to the final video. Let's quickly run through all the different things we talked through in this class. First we set our business goal. Second, we created our audience Avatar. Third, we figured how what messages we need to use to connect with our audience in order to meet our business goal and the best way to structure them. Four. We created a quick and clear introduction that's gonna hook our audience in and keep them from multitasking. Five. We set up our space so that we're looking directly at the camera, filling that space and incorporating some natural movement. Six. We practiced using a good volume paste, an intonation so that people can hear us and use our voice to help emphasize key points. Looking at this list, it can be pretty overwhelming to think through all the different pieces to prepare for your next virtual presentation. But we're strategic communicators, and we realized that we don't have to be perfect. It's about the overall impression that we give our audience every time that we log in to do a new virtual presentation. It's an opportunity to practice one more thing, get just a little bit better, and I promise you, you can do this. If there's one thing that I want you to take away from this class, it's this. The distance between us and our audience, whether you're in person or virtual, is up to us to decide. And you now have a plan in a toolbox of tips and tools that you can use to take your next virtual presentation to that next level, better articulate your message and deliver business results. Keep in mind that there is no finish line when it comes to presenting were all continually improving through practice, repetition and feedback. With that in mind, if you haven't already, please upload your project to the gallery so we can all check it out. Thank you for taking this class. I can't wait to hear how your next presentation goes, and please reach out to me. If I can help with anything, Thank you