Are you engaging, inspiring or connecting with your virtual listeners? If not, three speaking mistakes may be choking off the energy and lines of communication between you and your audience.
Raise your hand if you’ve seen or made one of these mistakes when presenting on Zoom, Skype, WebEx or GoToMeetings. Whatever virtual meeting platform you use, the speaking pitfalls listed below will prevent your message from getting through to the people who want to hear what you have to say.
If you make one or all of these mistakes, I’ve listed suggestions that can help you create a new speaking mindset and delivery style. Try some of my coaching tips and let me know if they work for you:
Mistake #1: Sounding boring and looking too serious
Open your presentation with a casual conversation. Start by looking at the camera (not at the faces on the screen) and asking a question or sharing a story that demonstrates your understanding of your audience and their issues. You want to be animated, relaxed and authentic.
Even in a virtual presentation, body language still matters. Add energy to your voice, face and gestures. Don’t forget to smile, make facial expressions and change your voice (vary your speed, use pauses, mix up the volume) to avoid sounding monotone.
When you stand, instead of sitting in a chair, you can use more gestures, create more energy in your voice and you’ll look more passionate and dynamic. You don’t want to look stiff, serious and boring.
Mistake #2: Treating virtual listeners just like a live audience
Virtual audiences have more distractions and shorter attention spans than a live audience. So, limit your stories to 45 to 60 seconds, only put one or two key points on a slide, use more visuals and make a virtual presentation shorter than an in-person talk. Focus on asking questions, engaging your audience and discussing the most interesting or relevant talking points.
Use the 7-Second Rule when creating your slides. Never display more information on a slide than your audience can read in seven seconds.
Cut your content to appeal to virtual listeners. Instead of covering seven key points, cover three or four thoroughly. If it’s an hour-long webinar or training, trim the class back to 30-45 minutes. Respect the time and attention of virtual listeners. Only cover the issues that meet their needs and concerns.
Mistake #3: Putting content before connection
If you’re an expert, you are intimately connected to your content. But your audience deserves your attention, also. Instead of dumping lots of facts and statistics on a virtual audience, focus on making a few points interesting and engaging to your audience.
Ask lots of questions to pull your audience into a two-way discussion. Make your presentation highly interactive. Use polls, chatting, reaction tools and activities to generate engagement.
Encourage participants to ask questions throughout your presentation. Avoid lecturing for long periods. Ask specific questions that get your listeners thinking, talking and sharing their ideas.
Your goal is NOT to squeeze a lot of content into a 60-minute seminar. You want to inspire your audience to want more than you are giving them. Use stories, examples and activities to connect with them. Show that you value your audience, you want their feedback and understand their problems.
Do you have more “mistakes” you’ve seen or made? Share them in the comments below.