After many weeks of both leading and participating on Zoom calls, I have realized a few things about the experience:
A: Zoom is very popular. There may be questions around security on the platform but it is very user-friendly.
B: We may be engaging in this way with clients/learners/colleagues for a while, and adaptation is certainly easier than resistance.
With that in mind, here is what I have learned, coupled with nearly 25 years of presenting in front of a live audience and how this can be adapted for virtual presentations:
1; If you have not led/hosted a Zoom call before, take the time to log on a few hours/days before and try out all the features. As host, you can record and share the session, mute participants and share content from your screen with them. Trying out these features on a family member or friend who dials into the trial call will give you the confidence to navigate the platform more smoothly on the day itself
2: Lighting in the space where you present is crucial. Even a small desk lamp can make the difference in creating the right first impression. Ideally, you should be testing the lighting at the same time on the day before so that you can arrange what lighting you need and set it up so that all that is needed on the day is to flick several switches.
3: If you are nervous about presenting, which is very understandable, take the opportunity to have a short conversation if you can with your audience before you commence the presentation. Ask them a question, check that you can be clearly heard and seen, and hearing their feedback will give you a chance to get settled into the presentation itself. It starts the rapport-building process before you begin the formal process of presenting.
4: When drafting the presentation, look for images to use in the slides which provoke the emotional response you want from your audience. Humour, outrage, compassion and reflection are all operating in abundance at the moment because of evocative images and quotes being shared. These images can break up text, and give a sense of variety to the content you have curated.
5: Finally, as uncomfortable as it may seems, watch yourself present. We all have screen"tells", which convey how we feel at any given time, and these operate whether we are consciously aware of them or not. Take the time to observe your on-screen behaviors and see which of any are disruptive to the overall effect you want to create.
I honestly resisted the process of transitioning to remote working when it first became a reality 13 weeks ago. Now in addition to the essential safety it provide for the staff who can avail of it, I can see how it can be useful, and like many others, I am starting to see the opportunity it offers. Having worked with several clients over the past few weeks with idea generation and presentation skills workshops, sometimes it only takes a few tweaks to take a presentation bound for a live audience successfully into the virtual world.