Challenges of the Remote-Age: Presenting Over VC
This article is written by Stephanie Trattles, Launch Operations Lead at Multiverse.
Let me begin this article with a brief introduction about my day-to-day role, as this has been the inspiration for this soon-to-be series. I am fortunate enough to coach the workforce of the future - I’m talking about the soon-to-be CEOs, Government Advisors, Entrepreneurs, Founders, Business Owners, Managing Directors...you see where I’m going with this. The bread and butter of my job focuses on the professional development of some amazing people in a variety of industries and roles. Through our meaningful coaching conversations, we identify challenges that the individual is facing, and work together to build solutions, strategies and ways to overcome these difficult situations. Having identified some common obstacles that young professionals are currently facing, I saw an opportunity to share these solutions with my wider network - a problem shared is a problem halved!
As a second lockdown looms over Britain like a humid rain-cloud clogging up the air, home-working becomes the not-so-new, tried-and-tested norm. Love it or hate it, it’s something that we’re all increasingly familiar with, but, despite the increasing familiarity, certain aspects of it remain challenging.
One difficult thing about working from home is the challenge of presenting...whilst remote. As private speaking webinars replace public speaking conferences, professionals of all ages are thrust into the new age of delivery and presenting: through a screen.
Don’t get me wrong - it’s trickier to read a zoom, than it is a room; our social-senses are a bit off-balance when it comes to reading emotion through a webcam. However, it has its advantages as well, and it’s time to embrace them.
Escape your comfort zone by creating a presentation that requires audience participation.
The Chat Function. You could start your presentation by having the audience answer a question in the chat function. To add to this, you could ask a couple of people to come off mute to explain their answer.
Breakout Rooms. Lighten your workload and save your vocal chords by having people discuss ideas in breakout rooms. This will increase interaction and networking amongst attendees - a big win during lockdown (think back to April circa 2020)...
Annotate. This can be used for a range of activities: ultimately it requires a near-blank slide where people can add their ideas, thoughts and feelings. *Disclaimer: Not for people who pride themselves on the neat, organised nature of their slides.
Technology is here to stay so you should use it to your advantage where possible. These are just a few simple suggestions that are likely to increase engagement, interaction and experience overall for your audience.
Body Language Is Important!
When presenting remotely, think about how you appear on camera. You should be central, with your head and shoulders visible to the audience. Think about it like this: you wouldn’t want to look up someone else’s nose, and they don’t want to look up yours, either. On the other hand, I know a slightly raised angle is better for a selfie, I really do, but it’s not the professional vibe we’re going for on Zoom.
Another important aspect of body language is eye contact. A common trap people fall into is looking at the videos of other people on the screen. This is useful if you’re trying to read the zoom, however it doesn’t create that eye-to-eye connection that we have in real life. I would recommend, in a section that you’re really confident with, look straight into the camera as you speak. Don’t forget to smile. This is an important part of likeability when presenting remotely. If you need to picture a room full of people behind your laptop, go ahead...for a beginner, presenting to a screen can feel a bit uncomfortable.
It's a Zoom Call, Not a Mirror!
Never in the history of time have humans been forced to look at themselves so much. I, personally, have lost count of the number of occasions I have caught myself watching the way I look when I speak. When in a meeting, delivering a session, or presenting to a group, I would recommend that you ‘Hide Self View’.
Reading the Zoom
This brings me on to my next point: reading the zoom. The first thing to note is that in order to read the zoom, you need to be able to see people! Culture is an important determinant of whether people will have their camera on, but there’s nothing wrong with making a light joke out of the challenge of presenting to a blank screen.
So, what do I mean by reading the zoom? It’s being able to understand the feeling, emotion and thoughts of people in the meeting. There are levels of difficulty to this: with increased audience size, you may need to click through pages of videos whilst sharing your screen. Be careful not to let this detract from the pace and flow of your presentation, but also, when calling for a response, do take a moment to check the engagement of your audience.
Bedroom, living room, maybe even office, for those lucky, outer-London professionals! Wherever you are working from, organise your environment. Firstly, tidy your background so that your bed is made and your belongings are tidy.
Now that behind you is presentable, think about the space in front of you: distraction territory. Minimise the possibility for distractions to increase your focus and concentration on your delivery.
Time to prime your environment. If there’s a slide you simply can’t nail, put some notes on a post-it note and stick it next to your camera. Remember to revert to looking into the camera as much as possible whilst referring to your post-it note - direct eye-contact is an important part of rapport-building.
Saving the Best Til Last...
One of the best things about presenting remotely is the ability to ‘share your screen’ whilst viewing presenter notes. This is a game-changer and should not be viewed as anything less. To do this, simply:
Click ‘Share Screen’ whilst on Zoom
Select ‘Optimize Screen Sharing for Video Clip’. This will automatically tick ‘Share Computer Sound’ - this is okay. This stage is critical - without doing this, the text on your slides will be blurry.
Select ‘Portion of Screen’ - Click share.
Open up your presentation, click ‘Present’ - ‘Presenter View’.
Your slides with notes should appear. Make the slides bigger by dragging this part of the screen across to the right. Ensure that the green box fits the slide exactly - this is what your audience can see.
…Et voila! Present with confidence. Thank me later!
The nature of remote-working has introduced different challenges when it comes to presenting, but let us not forget that presenting was never easy in the first place. There’s no doubt that a revolution is happening, and the sooner we embrace the change, the sooner we can reap the benefits that are hidden below the surface.
Do you have any tips that you've learnt to help with remote presenting? Comment below!