Over the past five months, we’ve heard many of the same questions about virtual communication. Whether you’re speaking up more in meetings or giving presentations, everyone is facing similar challenges in a virtual medium.
Here are the top 3 frequently asked questions people are asking us in our virtual workshops and coaching sessions:
1. How do I read people’s reactions when I give a virtual presentation?
This is a significant challenge when presenting virtually. In person, you can easily look around the room and see people’s reactions to your pitch or presentation, such as leaning in, nodding their head, or smiling. On camera, you are speaking primarily to the camera lens which means you don’t have that immediate reaction or energy from the audience. Here’s what I do: if everyone is on video and I have everyone on “grid view”, then I can periodically look down at their reactions. I can also stop to ask open-ended questions that get others to engage. This isn’t easy: there is a delayed feedback loop and I’m constantly shifting my eye contact from the lens to the screen, which is fatiguing. However, this is a rhythm that will start to feel natural.
2. How do I transmit my energy and presence through a camera lens?
There are two ways to do this: before and during the presentation. If you’ve attended one of our workshops in the past, remember the “Why You?” question we recommend you ask before every meeting or presentation. That means, “Why do you care: about your work, about your audience, about your organization?” In these uncertain and stressful days of COVID, reconnecting with your sense of purpose helps you focus your energy and presence before you log on for a call. The second way is to speak with intention – this is a technique we teach in our workshops and coaching sessions. Ensuring you speak with intention helps your confidence and warmth come across virtually.
3. Where do I put my notes?
Many of you may be using multiple screens when you present; my challenge with this is that it distracts my attention so I’m constantly looking from one screen to the other. As a result, I keep everything on one screen – my notes, my camera lens, and my participant view – so I can look in the same direction for the entire presentation. I have my notes in large font, bullet points, on one side of the screen where I can easily reference them without breaking eye contact. On the other side is the video platform where I can see participants. In the middle is the camera lens. Practice your pitch or presentation in this way before the big day and you will feel more comfortable and more in control.