3 Questions to ask yourself before presenting virtually

As I write this it’s April 2020, and I’ve spent the last few weeks both presenting virtually myself and training other speakers to do the same.

I’ve seen plenty of helpful posts out there about audio and visual set up (mics, background and lighting).

This really does matter if we want to make it as easy as possible for our audience to focus. (Poor audio or lighting can absolutely be barriers to this.)

But focusing on our set up won’t fix weak content, or a talk that is not designed for the medium of presenting online.

Here are 3 questions I’ve been asking all my speakers to consider:

1) Does it make sense to present this content live and in this format?

If I’m going to present live online, I want to make sure that it’s worth my audience showing up, to engage in this way. (If it would be better presented as a short, recorded video, or a written resource, then I would rather offer that instead – and have done so multiple times over the past few weeks.)

2) Are you making the absolute most of the audience’s time?

Personally, I don’t want to hear one more online event lead with how ‘it’s free’ and been ‘put together in days’ as a disclaimer for quality. It’s not ‘free’ for the audience. Their time and attention is massively valuable, and as speakers we need to respect this. I am checking every minute of my presentations for value, and in the knowledge that people may well be watching in an environment with lots of competing factors.

3) Are you designing for engagement?

Whether that’s visually, in your use of questions and active language, how you’re going to engage with the chat, or planned breakout points. As you do so, are you considering the smart but potentially Zoom-fatigued person? What are you really asking them to do with their super precious brain and why?

I love the potential of public speaking as a way of connecting and sharing ideas, knowledge and experiences. We still need that as humans, now more than ever. We just don’t need more low-grade noise. We need awesome, creative speakers like you, thoughtfully considering the audience and creating the best experience for them that we can.