Top five startup hacks for successful online presentations

It can be a fast and efficient alternative to in-person pitching in many instances. Having your marketing and sales people pitching online allows you to get your message in front of many more potential customers.

But, giving a presentation online comes with its own unique challenges. When we give a presentation in person we are used to using facial expressions, movement and hand gestures to engage multiple people in a room. All of this disappears when you need to sit down and present from behind a computer. You are literally put in a box.

1.       Keep it to 20 minutes or under

People’s attention spans are much shorter online than in person. Anything over 20 minutes (including Q&A time) and your audience is going to be far less likely to attend.

However, be very clear on your objective for this time. Maybe it’s to warm up a lead, in order to get an in-person meeting once a relationship is built. Maybe it’s about convincing someone to have you introduced to the real decision maker. Whatever the objective, make sure you have a punchy, short and memorable presentation to achieve it.

2.      The secret to engagement

Half of the human brain, 80 billion nerve cells, is involved with processing what we see. It can do this unbelievably fast.

Boring slides should be relegated to the 90’s. Spend some time and effort on creating and showing something visually stimulating to accompany your presentation. It will not only improve how much your audience remembers, but also increases engagement with your message.

For example, you could be selling a traffic management solution to a mobile operator. Show them something that represents mobile traffic management but in an interesting or intriguing way, such as with traffic lights for mobile phones. Be visually creative and your presentation will benefit in a big way.

3.      Change how you use your voice

Your voice is much more important in an online presentation than if you are presenting in person. You need to make sure you have enough energy in your voice, and be able to change your tone and speed to suit parts of the presentation.

If your voice is without variation in tone it will quickly bore an audience. Instead, increase the tone to emphasize key points. You can also try varying your volume – sometimes louder, sometimes softer – to do the same thing.

Emphasis is also powerful. Repeat key points, but don’t overdo it. Same goes for pauses - use pauses to dramatic effect to make sure you hit home a point. Pauses can actually make the difference between a good presentation and a mediocre one. It gives your audience time to absorb something you have just said and you want them to remember. You’re also giving them a chance to note what you’re saying down.

4.      Get your equipment sorted

Just as when you are preparing for an in-person presentation, make sure that 30 minutes beforehand you check all your equipment. Make sure audio and video are working, and that your presentation is ready and in place.

A lot of times when you are presenting remotely, you’ll probably have a colleague in another location also joining the pitch. Again, check that they also have a good internet connection and all their equipment is ready to go. Have a quick conversation online to make sure all is working.

Pro tip: Invest in some great audio headsets with noise cancellation. This will dramatically improve the experience for the audience. Jawbone do excellent ones. Don’t rely on your laptops speakers and mic!

5.      Think like a film director

Switch on your webcam and take a look at your surroundings. There are a number of things to think about here. First, if you have a bland grey office wall behind you make sure you wear something that contrasts with that. Ensure that you are the hero of the shot and stand out well.

Also, think about your lighting. Avoid sitting in front of a window since the light will wash you out. Instead, consider taping some paper over two desk lights and put them either side of you. This will remove shadows and bathe you in a great light.

Lastly, think about props for conversation starters. Maybe an unusual poster on the wall behind you, books in the shot or a signed football? You’ll be amazed at what people will notice and comment on.

With presenting online quickly becoming a mainstay for small businesses, now is the time to lock in strong techniques and practices to master them. Break out of the internet box with these hacks for great online presentations.


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