Jan 14, 2022

Brian Krogh

How To Get People To Turn on Their Cameras, and 4 Other Tips to Give A Great Virtual Presentation

If you want to nail your next presentation on Zoom but you've read enough articles about lighting and how the chat feature works, this post is for you.

Here are 5 little-known virtual presentation tips that will take your next presentation from good to great.

Stop Sharing Your Screen

We think sharing slides increases engagement, but this is not the case.

A Harvard study concluded that virtual presentations with PowerPoint were no more effective than presentations without visual aids.

Release the pressure to share your screen the entire time you present. When you share your slides, they dominate the view and relegate attendees' videos to small boxes on the edge of the screen.  This hinders connection.

Share your screen sparingly and toggle between sharing and not sharing your slides.  

The simple act of moving from sharing to not sharing a slide will cause your audience to lean in and take notice of what you are saying.

Hide Your Self View

In his book "Virtual Selling" Jeb Blount points to a survey by Steelcase which found 72% of people get distracted by their own appearance on a video call.

The last thing you want is your own image distracting you from your focus on your audience.

There is an easy fix for this.

On Zoom right-click your video and select "hide self-view."

The result will keep you focused on your audience.

Use Individual Breakout Rooms

This is one of my favorite ways to increase engagement.

If you ask your audience to speak up in a virtual presentation you are likely only going to hear from the extroverts in the room.

Instead, set up individual breakout rooms and say this, "I'd like to hear your thoughts, but I'm going to give you a moment to think about your answer. In a minute, you will be magically whisked away to your own luxurious personal breakout room for 90 seconds. While you are there, I'd like you to answer this question . . ."

When everyone returns to the room, they do so ready to share.

Let Them See Your Hands

In her TEDx London talk, Vanessa Van Edwards shares research that shows our natural instinct when we meet someone is to look at their hands. Open hands signal that we can trust another person. Unfortunately, this key body language is often lost in a virtual environment.

Frame yourself on camera so your face is centered, and your upper torso is visible. Think of a news anchor seated at a desk. As you present, gesture in such a way that your hands are visible to your audience.

Those gestures will increase trust and help you appear passionate about your subject.

Ask People to Turn on Their Cameras

It can be tough to get people to turn on their cameras, but it's nearly impossible to connect with blank squares.

Most presenters understandably shy away from asking people to turn on their cameras because they worry about upsetting the audience. But if you want cameras to turn on, you need to ask.

To be effective, your ask must do two things. First, it must humbly acknowledge the reality that some people are not in a place they can turn on their camera (think working parent with toddlers eating in the background). Second, it must confront the truth that a majority of participants with their cameras off are disengaged. They hope to work on other things while they listen to you in the background.

Smile and say something like this, "absolutely no judgment at all if you're in a place where it is not possible to turn on your camera, but if it is possible, I'd like to ask you to turn on your camera. It gets a little lonely out here in this black hole all by myself and I'd love to see you."

As virtual participants turn on their cameras welcome them by name and tell them you're glad to see them.  

I promise this works.

Virtual presentations are here to stay, and as a presenter, you need to continue to improve.

Use these tips to increase your connection with your audience and to make your next Zoom presentation your best one yet.

I’ll help you improve in 15 minutes, for free.

I would love to meet you and provide you with some value whether or not we work together long term. Let’s put something on the calendar.