Tips for Presenting in a Virtual Space
Abbeydale has been providing bespoke training for over 20 years; however some things can’t be predicted. When the pandemic began in 2020, it drastically changed the way training was delivered. This blog post goes over some of the many things we learned while adjusting to this unprecedented situation.
Sarah Brooks, a director and trainer at Abbeydale Training, went through the process of adapting her training style to an online space. “I was terrified! I am a technophobe and hated the idea of seeing myself on screen.” she explained. Sarah has always delivered in person training, often travelling a long way both in and out of the country for global clients. Years of experience speaking in front of large groups means she has had no issues gaining the confidence or presentation skills to provide high quality training. However, when she had to translate these skills into Zoom presentations, she found it difficult to start with. “I was frightened of things going wrong with the technology and being unable to resolve issues.”
She found a solution in teaching herself how to work with the technology by watching YouTube tutorials, as well as teaming up with other trainers going through the same transition. “We arranged practise sessions with each other, building and changing the material.” Sarah has spent a lot of time thinking of ways to develop the online sessions so that they would be engaging and include a large range of activities and approaches that would hold the interest of clients and make them want more.
Now that we work in a more hybrid way, there has been a larger demand from clients for ‘Online Presentation Skills’ training. Since lockdown, the need for people to gain confidence, build techniques and practise delivering presentations on virtual platforms has grown. There are many benefits to online training, Sarah mentioning that “I like being able to connect with delegates across the globe, no longer being limited by travel. I am overcoming my fears and embracing a technology that I have been avoiding.” It has also helped us get in touch with more freelance trainers, as our social media presence has increased.
We no longer have to travel several hours for a meeting, but the new technology presents its own problems. Sarah spoke honestly on how she felt about virtual sessions. “I really miss seeing people face to face, reading body language and picking up smaller clues that you sometimes miss in the virtual space.” However, she does acknowledge that she has improved at this virtually with time. “I miss the downtime in breaks where you really get to know your delegates.”
Presenting management training using applications such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom & Google Meet has opened many doors. It has enabled us to continue business as usual when travelling and face to face is not possible. However, many of our clients experience the same fear factors as they do when standing up in front of an audience. It is multi-tasking at a high level, including things like managing the technology itself as well as attempting to share a screen while being engaging to the audience. It can be nerve wracking for many people.
Sarah’s advice is that as with most things, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Here are her tips for presenting professional presentations online:
- Choose your place – think about your background. Left out laundry is not a good look, but bookshelves can be a distraction, your audience being more interested in checking out your reading material than listening to you. As a training provider, you want client engagement to always be at its highest.
- Positioning: Make sure the webcam is at the right level – raise it up so you are making eye contact and not looking down. Sit upright with your head up with your head and shoulders in the screen.
- Minimise distractions. This could include things like unplugging your landline, or putting a note on the door asking not to be disturbed. When delivering development training, it is important to lead by example by setting the standard of a professional and quiet space.
- Practise, practise, practise. Get used to the technology and how to use the tools seamlessly. Information is readily available on how to use specific applications, and this can be found in text or video form.
- Engage your audience using the chat function to ask them questions and get them interacting with you. Interactive training is the top priority of Abbeydale Training, as getting clients involved helps them retain the information they have been given.
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